Red Cross Committed to Working Towards Nuclear Disarmament

Today Red Cross Red Crescent made a commitment to work globally towards establishing an international agreement to ensure nuclear weapons are never used again, and are ultimately eliminated.

The commitment, spearheaded by Australian Red Cross in partnership with the Norwegian and Japanese Red Cross societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross, was signed off in Sydney today.

Australian Red Cross' CEO, Robert Tickner, said much more needed to be done to raise awareness about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, and to ensure they are never used again.

"Sometimes we become involved in humanitarian issues which make us very humble when we realise the power of our Movement to effect change through mobilising global public opinion. The nuclear weapons issue is one such campaign."

Ensuring governments around the world achieve a legally binding international agreement has never been more urgent. An estimated 17,000 warheads remain in existence. The use of even one of these nuclear weapons would have devastating consequences for generations.

Modelling shows that even a limited nuclear war could affect the environment for decades, rendering agriculture impossible in vast areas and leading to the disruption of global food distribution and mass starvation.

Speaking to the Movement, Mr Tickner said, "Now is the time to decisively deal with these weapons. This is a truly an idea whose time has come and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is dedicated to working globally to make this happen."

A number of National Societies took the opportunity to make statements of support. Filipe Nainoca, Director General of Fiji Red Cross Society, represented Pacific Island Red Cross Societies. The issue of nuclear weapons is pressing for Pacific Islands nations who have experienced first-hand the devastating effects of nuclear testing.

Next year the Pacific will mark the 60th anniversary of the largest nuclear weapon ever detonated, close to Bikini Atoll, In the Marshall Islands. Mr. Nainoca told the Movement, "though the bombs may have been detonated many years ago, their effects live on in our hearts, our minds and our homes forever."