Final remarks at Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons

First of all, warm thanks to all of you, not only for agreeing to come to Oslo, but also for your active participation. Together we have made this conference a great success.

I believe that we have succeeded in reframing the issue of nuclear weapons by introducing the humanitarian impacts and humanitarian concerns at the very centre of the discourse. Taking that approach, it becomes clear that this is everybody’s concern and that it is equally legitimate for nuclear and non-nuclear states alike to care about this issue. We believe that we are taking the debate on nuclear weapons out of the somewhat traditional and institutionalised arenas that already exist. We are not intending to replace them; this is a supplement, but we do believe that there is a new sense of urgency that will govern our work in this area. We have also been reminded in very sharp terms that these weapons exist. We cannot approach them through a strategy of denial. They exist, hence they can be used. We have to think about the unthinkable and raise awareness of this issue.

I am happy to see that so many different actors have set the stage here. Not only states, but also key international organisations, the ICRC, the Red Cross and the Red Crescent Federation, key scholars and experts, and of course civil society. In our experience, when concerned states and civil society organisations work together, we are more than twice as powerful as when we each work on our own.

This should lead to a new understanding, a new awareness and a new sense of urgency. Every state in this room has expressed its shared desire to see a world free from nuclear weapons – either through the NPT or through other international solutions. That is not a new goal. But there are different paths to reaching this goal. Some believe in mutual negotiations in good faith. Some believe in regional agreements. Some believe in new legal instruments, like a convention, to ban nuclear weapons. This has not been the subject of this particular conference, but I do believe that the conference has brought new hope, that we have introduced new knowledge, new thinking, and as mentioned, a new sense of urgency into these debates. That is why I am so happy that Mexico has suggested that we can take this debate further in Mexico, and then we will see where we go from there.

This has been a great success and I want to thank all of you for that. I also want to thank my team, who have made this conference possible – representatives like Steffen Kongstad, Annette Abelsen, and all the able people working with Gry Larsen and myself – who have helped to make this such a success – with regard to both content and the practicalities.

It just remains for me to say thank you again yet again, and I wish you a safe journey home. We will hopefully meet again. The conference is adjourned.

 

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