CPPC in Brussels for the end of nuclear weapons

Friday, March 9, 2018

The President of the National Leadership of the Portuguese Council for Peace and Cooperation (CPPC), Ilda Figueiredo, represented CPPC in a conference held in Brussels on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, promoted by the Confederal Group of the European United Left - Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL).

The end of nuclear weapons and massive destruction, and general, simultaneous and controlled disarmament were reaffirmed as fundamental conditions towards ensuring peace and safety in the world.

Intervention by Ilda Figueiredo

On behalf of CPPC, I thank GUE/NGL for their invitation and salute all members and guests present here.

We consider this debate to be very important, as nuclear weapons are the most serious threat to humanity. Peace activists have been fighting against nuclear weapons for decades.

Therefore, we consider the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, assumed July 7th of last year, within the framework of the UN, by 122 countries, to be of great importance. It is undoubtedly one of the most significant victories achieved recently by the forces of peace, as previously the Stockholm Appeal, in the beginning of the 1950s. It was a very important step, giving expression to the aspirations of the peoples for a world free of nuclear weapons.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is open to signature and ratification by the different United Nations member States since September 20th 2017, having already been signed by several countries. Therefore, in Portugal, the Portuguese Council for Peace and Cooperation began a campaign for Portugal to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons — For peace, for safety, for the future of Humanity — that includes a public petition which already has thousands of signatures and that will be handed over soon to the National Parliament so that it may discuss this issue.

The dimension and power of the currently existing nuclear arsenals and the growing tension that marks the international situation raise, with increased urgency, the demand for nuclear disarmament — essential issue to safeguard peace, security and the survival of Humanity.

We know the conflict can be triggered by accident or error in the early warning systems, in addition to political-military decisions by one party that can promoter another party's conviction of an imminent preemptive nuclear attack and lead them to react. For all these reasons, the actions of the defenders of peace is essential to reduce military tension and invert the militarization of international relations, which characterizes the present.

In the CPPC's petition, we state:

"Defending that Portugal, according to the spirit and letter of the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic —for «general, simultaneous and controlled disarmament» — should be on the side of peace and initiatives that promote peace, such as the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, initiative within the framework of the United Nations;

Deeply concerned with the catastrophic consequences that would result in any use of nuclear weapons and recognizing the subsequent need to completely eliminate them, as the only to guarantee that nuclear weapons will never be used again, under any circumstance,

For peace, for security, for the future of Humanity, this petition's subscribers:

- express the demand for the elimination of nuclear weapons and their non-proliferation;

- demonstrate their satisfaction with the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in the framework of the United Nations;

- demand the Portuguese authorities sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, in respect for article 7 of the Portuguese Constitution, prescribing a «general, simultaneous and controlled disarmament»."

We are distributing and fostering this petition in several forms, including public sessions, and the elaboration and distribution of several materials, because we know there is a real risk of a generalized nuclear conflict, with serious implications for humanity, given the high number of currently existent nuclear warheads (with much higher power than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs) and because a nuclear conflict would put Humanity's survival at risk.

The position of the Portuguese government to not sign the Treaty because of its commitments with NATO has been severely criticized in the debates we've held, namely in Oporto, in Lisbon and in Almada, reminding the higher commitment with the Portuguese Constitution, which in its article 7 indicates the «dissolution of political-military blocks» and «general, simultaneous and controlled disarmament». That is, given this contradiction, the Government should have assumed the opposite position, and sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

We are also concerned with the deepening of the ongoing militarization process of the European Union (EU), and which Portugal supported, namely the so-called Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) in the military sphere —an integration included in the Lisbon Treaty that foresees the possibility of a major integration among EU member countries in the central aspect of State sovereignty.

The umbilical connection between the EU and NATO, and the pressure upon its member states to not sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons are a major impediment for the desire of peoples of general and controlled disarmament and peace.

Since its creation, in 1949, but with greater expression in the during of the century, NATO is an aggressive organization at the service of the foreign policy of the United States of America and one of the main threats to peace in the world. NATO and its members —particularly the US and the EU's major powers— are responsible, among other examples, for wars of aggression against countries (such as Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq or Libya), with a great death toll, suffering, destruction and millions of displaced and refugees.

Therefore, the major challenge to all peace activists is to develop the necessary actions to clarify and unite broad sectors of the population for peace and disarmament in our countries, which implies denouncing this militarist policies and mobilize populations in defense of the signature and ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Therefore, we are also promoting the realization of cultural and educational initiatives, including Concerts for Peace, a more daring and creative presentation of didactic materials on peace, and broadening action in partnership with schools, associations, municipalities and trade-unions.

As we always state, for peace, we are never too many, so we will pursue the struggle for general, simultaneous and controlled disarmament, the fundamental condition to ensure peace and security in the world.