Youth representatives speak out for Nuclear Disarmament at the NY City Hall


An article from Peace Boat

On January 28, 2020, Peace Boat US attended the NY City Council hearing at the City Hall to support two legislations about nuclear disarmament. Held by the Committee on Governmental Operations, the hearing focused on two legislations that were sponsored by City Council member Daniel Dromm. RES0976-2019 will encourage council members to divest the New York City pension funds from industries that support nuclear weapons technologies and development and INT 1621-2019 which will make New York City a nuclear-weapon-free zone. Passing these legislations would not only be a city-wide decision but will also serve as a role model for a nuclear-free world.

Peace Boat US interns holding the Nobel Peace Prize 2017 won by ICAN, along with SDGs and signs for a nuclear free world on the steps of New York City Hall.

Many organizations and activists gathered on the stairs in front of the New York City Hall for a press conference to raise awareness for nuclear disarmament. ICAN representative Ray Acheson displayed the Nobel Peace Prize, a sign of hope and motivation for the activists, while calling for the city to step against nuclear weapons. She voiced support for a City Council resolution urging Comptroller Scott Stringer to divest pension funds from companies involved in nukes. Acheson is a member of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017.

Acheson and other community leaders decried investments detailed in a 2019 report from the International Disarmament Institute at Pace University, which found the city’s retirement funds have put $475 million in 19 “nuclear weapon producers.” The sum includes more than $180 million invested in Boeing and about $67 million in Honeywell International.

(Continued in right column)

Question related to this article:

Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

How can culture of peace be developed at the municipal level?

(Continued from left column)

More than 60 people testified at the public hearing, including Peace Boat US Director Emilie McGlone and our youth delegation from Hollins University, sharing the testimonies of the survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, encouraging Council Member Fernando Cabrera to announce his support for divestment from nuclear weapons producing companies. 

Participants at the hearing expressed their love of the city and strong unwillingness to see New York, or any other place on the Earth, to be exposed to the threat of irreversible destruction that nuclear weapons poses. Nuclear weapons not only eliminate the capacity of human self-defense and mutual aid, but they also create a genocidal level of injury. But so far, an outrageous amount of money is being invested in nuclear weapons instead of more immediate and pressing issues like poverty, health care, and climate change. Nuclear disarmament is a local, national and international issue and thus, in order to rid the world of nuclear weapons, we need actions from all levels, not just words. “It is the will of conscience of humanity,” to educate of truth and create real security that nuclear weapons are incapable of. 

Director Emilie McGlone spoke on behalf of Peace Boat US and shared information about the nuclear disarmament initiatives that Peace Boat has been organizing onboard and in the ports of call. Since 2008, Peace Boat has invited Hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors) of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to participate in the “Global Voyage for a Nuclear-Free World: Peace Boat Hibakusha Project.” This project is held annually onboard Peace Boat’s global voyages. As the average age of the Hibakusha is now more than 76 years old, the time remaining for them to directly share their experience and insights is very limited. 

The interns read testimonies on behalf of Hibakusha Shigeko Sasamori, Satsuko Thurlow, and Yasuaki Yamashita as well as activist Linda Chapman. The atomic bomb survivors’ testimonies described their personal experience and trauma suffered from Hiroshima and Nagasaki and urged the New York city council and committee members to support the total abolition of nuclear weapons and its development. The interns felt honored to deliver this important message to the hearing at the City Hall. It was an insightful experience for them to be part of this powerful and pivotal process. 

This post was created and published by Chin Wai Wong, Irina Conc, Leena Gurung, and Sajila Kanwal.