Statement of the Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons
August 14, 1996
The destructiveness of nuclear weapons is immense. Any use would be catastrophic.
Nuclear weapons pose an intolerable threat to all humanity and its habitat, yet tens of thousands remain in arsenals built up at an extraordinary time of deep antagonism. That time has passed, yet assertions of their utility continue.
These facts are obvious but their implications have been blurred. There is no doubt that, if the peoples of the world were more fully aware of the inherent danger of nuclear weapons and the consequences of their use, they would reject them, and not permit their continued possession or acquisition on their behalf by their governments, even for an alleged need for self-defence. Nuclear weapons are held by a handful of states which insist that these weapons provide unique
security benefits, and yet reserve uniquely to themselves the right to own them. This situation is highly discriminatory and thus unstable; it cannot be sustained. The possession of nuclear weapons by any state is a constant stimulus to other states to acquire them.
The world faces threats of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism. These threats are growing. They must be removed.
For these reasons, a central reality is that nuclear weapons diminish the security of all states. Indeed, states which possess them become themselves targets of nuclear weapons.
The opportunity now exists, perhaps without precedent or recurrence, to make a new and clear choice to enable the world to conduct its affairs without nuclear weapons and in accordance with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
The members of the Canberra Commission call upon the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France and China to give the lead by committing themselves, unequivocally, to the elimination of all nuclear weapons. Such a commitment would propel the process in the most direct and imaginative way. All other governments must join this commitment and contribute to its fulfillment.
The Commission has identified a series of steps which can be taken immediately and which would thereupon make the world safer.
The Commission has also described the practical measures which can be taken to bring about the verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons and the full safeguarding of militarily usable nuclear material.
A nuclear weapon free world can be secured and maintained through political commitment, and anchored in an enduring and binding legal framework.
Celso Amorim, Brazil's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, New York
General Lee Butler (ret.), Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Strategic Command (1992-1994)
Richard Butler (Convenor), Australia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, New York
Field Marshal Lord Michael Carver, British Chief of Defence Staff (1973-1976)
Jacques-Yves Cousteau, writer, film producer and former naval officer
Jayantha Dhanapala, Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the United States
Rolf Ekeus, Executive Chairman, United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM)
Nabil Elaraby, Permanent Representative of Egypt to the United Nations, New York
Ryukichi Imai, Counsellor to the Atomic Energy Commission of Japan
Ronald McCoy, President of the Malaysian Medical Association
Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson
Robert O'Neill, Chichele Professor of the History of War, All Souls College, Oxford University
Qian Jiadong, Vice-Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference
Michel Rocard, Prime Minister of France (1988-1991)
Joseph Rotblat, winner of the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize, President of the Pugwash Conferences
Roald Sagdeev, Distinguished Professor, Department of Physics, University of Maryland
Maj. Britt Theorin, President of the International Peace Bureau