By Anne Creter - OPTU NGO Rep. & Global Alliance UN Liaison (May 17, 2010)

Diplomats from the world's nations gathered at the United Nations throughout the month of May for the 5-year Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review, widely considered to be a critical point for the nuclear disarmament movement. The 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review International Planning Committee (comprised of NGO's from the US, Europe, Asia and the Riverside Church of NY) organized a two-day long international conference (April 30-May1) about Nuclear Abolition, Peace and Disarmament on the eve of the NPT Review Conference. NGOs from six continents sent representatives and activists to NY to influence its outcome. It was held at the famous Riverside Church, fittingly where Doctor Martin Luther King made his historic "Beyond Vietnam" speech. This gathering provided a forum to share analyses and coordinate activities with the NPT Conference. It consisted of three plenaries and numerous workshops from assorted tracks (abolition, wider peace, economic justice/human needs and environment/health). Many distinguished speakers were featured, most notable was an impassioned UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon affirming his commitment to disarmament!

The Global Alliance for Ministries and Departments of Peace (GA) was thrilled to be among the "wider peace" workshops. It was coordinated by GA member Rob Acheson, of the Canadian Ministry of Peace Initiative, to show up as follows: Disarmament Through Governmental Infrastructures for a Culture of Peace -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon recently encouraged parliamentarians to increase practical measures for peace and disarmament, including through the establishment of "institutional infrastructures". The Global Alliance for Ministries and Departments of Peace) is a rapidly growing international movement dedicated to this 'practical' means of cultivating a culture of peace.

The room was adorned with disarmament ribbons provided by The Ribbons International NGO. The assembled panel met the "gender age" criteria nicely, with its balanced mix of young & mature men and women. Besides the above mentioned 'mature' ones (Anne & Rob), panelists included two youth - New Yorkers for a Department of Peace board member, Marianne H. Perez and Michael Spies, political affairs officer for Weapons of Mass Destruction Branch, UN Office for Disarmament Affairs. Mr. Acheson began by showing his adaptation of the GA power-point developed for the 2009 Costa Rica Summit. Ms. Perez then gave a rousing flip-chart presentation about structural violence and infrastructures for peace. Mr. Spies proceeded with an informative synopsis of his disarmament work at the UN and Ms. Creter ended with another power-point, integrating it all within the larger context of the UN Declaration and Programme of Action for a Culture of Peace (A/Res/53/243). She mentioned their work with the NGO Committee on Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns - New York (CSVGC-NY) "Culture of Peace Working Group" drafting a proposed UN Resolution calling for the creation of "peace infrastructures" within member states. Then there was a lively Q & A with an engaged audience (amused by the irony that it was the "mature ones" who chose the power-point technology). Elder Canadian GA member Eryl Court delighted the audience with her wise presence.

Two colleagues from CSVGC-NY were instrumental in contributing to the workshop's success -- Margo LeZaro and Georgina Galanis - with their gracious support. Ms. LeZaro was one of the Conference's main organizers. Another interesting point is that Mr. Acheson's daughter, Rachael (a leading disarmament expert at the UN) also presented a workshop entitled "Dismantling Discourses: Nuclear Weapons and Human Security" (economic justice / human needs track). She is director of Reaching Critical Will, a project of the Women's International League of Peace and Freedom and is editor of Beyond Arms Control: Challenges and Choices for Nuclear Disarmament (2010). Unfortunately both workshops occurred at the same time so father and daughter missed each other’s performances.

The Conference concluded dramatically the following day, starting early in the morning with a poignant inter-faith nuclear disarmament convocation at the Church Center, across the street from the UN. It then moved onto a massive rally at Time Square marching to the UN, ending at the Dag Hammerskjld Plaza with a Peace Festival. Georgina Galanis manned a table at the Festival for the GA which attracted many visitors, including U.S. Peace Alliance friends from several states. Tens of thousands of global citizens took to the streets from all over the world that day with a powerful show of forces -- particularly from Japan -- chanting “No More Hiroshima’s, No More Nagasaki’s.” Unfortunately, it all got upstaged by the Time Square Bomber who ironically struck at the same time. Not only did he manage to steal the headlines but this big newsworthy disarmament event received little (if ANY) media coverage at all!

A response from Biannca Pace to the author Anne Creter

Dear Anne

Fantastic thank you so much, how appropriate to receive this from you, on saturday at the UNAA (NSW) meeting the president gave us a Book titled ELIMINATING NUCLEAR THREATS - a practical agenda for global policymakers.... authored by Gareth Evans and Yoriko Kawaguchi the co -chairs of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation.

This commission was initially proposed by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd following his visit in July 2008 to Hiroshima peace memorial, (which we all visited when we were in Japan attending the Third Global Summit for MFP and DOP's) and it was launched in NYC in Sept 008 by him and the Japanese PM Mr. Yasua Fukuda as a joint initiative of the Australian and Japanese Governments.

I am reading from the synopsis... and it says... although initiated by the two governments, and primarily funded b the government of Australia, the COmmission is a completely independent body, with its members appointed in their personal capacity rather than as representatives of their respective countries. etc etc"

I am sure that I can obtain a copy of the book and media pack etc for you... if you would like it let me know and I will ask the UNAA president to give me another for you. Then send me your mailing address so that I can mail it to you.

Well done and sending love B