Wandering around the UN building provides surprises from time to time. On Wednesday I walked around a corner and almost ran into a speech of Ban Ki-Moon. After his remarks he came my way and, when I smiled at him, shook my hand. Despite the fact that his hands are unbelievably small I felt really excited and -I must admit- ran straight to the computer to write to my dad that I just shook hands with the Secretary General.
However, while interviewing the fabulous Rebecca Johnson yesterday, I realized that it’s people -or should I say women- like her who make this conference interesting, not the Secretary General (who by the way didn’t even speak about the Review Conference). Reaching Critical Will, publishers of the ubiquitous News in Review, the definitive RevCon newspaper is a project of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, but also the Acronym Institute and many other disarmament NGOs are led by women.
Over the course of the past three weeks, we’ve had the chance to talk to many women whose tireless work and expertise enabled us to do our work and keep track of things at the RevCon. Beatrice Fihn and Ray Acheson, editors of the News in Review are two of them. Last Tuesday I had the chance to interview Sharon Dolev, an Israeli campaign leader who tries to form a movement against nuclear weapons in Israel – where it is illegal even to say that the country HAS atomic bombs. Sharon is a really brave and interesting woman who speaks openly about failures and mistakes of Israel, no matter what opposition she has to face back home.
In an environment dominated by men who do not want to give up their “power” and “deterrence” based on nuclear weapons, the women in the NGOs are doing such an important job pointing out how wrong they are. In a discussion about the Middle East, Sharon said “They don’t have to know how to build the bomb in order to know building the bomb is wrong”. So simple, so true. Also it was the female member of the Finnish delegation who spoke out honestly and frankly about the problems and key players positions in Europe related to Nuclear Sharing.
I then I attended an event with survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, so-called Hibakushas. The strength the two Japanese ladies showed in sharing their experiences impressed me much more than any speech held by an “important” man. The women here have the will and the courage to speak out. For them, it’s not only a job to work for nuclear disarmament, but an affair of the heart – that’s what gives them the strength to raise their voice and makes their message so compelling. In the NGO meetings every morning the room is crowded with women – but every time I get to sneak into meetings of delegates I notice the stunning majority of men. Under all the chair positions there is only one female diplomat. Maybe we should start asking ourselves how the conference, what the disarmament movement would look like if that was not the case. Maybe the people who started most if not all wars in history, who often feel they have to show their power and strength wherever they go, are not the ones who should decide over the world’s future - alone. So on the occasion of our 50th video going online, I am proud to recommend two other videos with female activists – one (in German with English subtitles) with Annalena Baerbock of the board of directors of the European Greens Party who talks about civil use and its role in the NPT and what Germany and others should do about it.
The other one features Alice Slater, New York Director for the Nuclear Peace Foundation who takes ous through the history, aims and structure of the Abolition 2000 NGO Network and its work towards disarmament.
Next week we may be able to make an interview with a female young Egyptian delegate – so stay tuned for the conference that is now getting exciting and thrilling – with the announcement of new Iran sanctions package diminishing the possibility of securing consensus for this RevCon’s outcome. But at yesterday’s event it was once again a woman to stand up and say: “We cannot give up. This treaty is the only thing we’ve got. When our children ask us ‘where were you when they decided over the world’s security’, we can say that we were here and we fought – for us and for them. So don’t lose the vision. It’s the thing that keeps us going”
Feminist greetings from New York
Follow the NPT TV Team effort to provide you with in-depths, ambitious analysis of the ongoing NPT RevCon 2010, with a whole month of fresh and daily news and video updates. Enjoy, and spread the word!
We’re a team of students from Germany. We’ve been working to bring you easily digestible video updates on the state of nuclear disarmament since 2007.
Since then, we’ve produced over 500 interviews with NGOs and diplomats reporting on the proceedings of NPT conferences and examining underlying issues.
This is the 2010 edition of NPT TV, and we’re working hard to keep you updated even through the frenetic run-up to the final document being negotiated, so stay tuned!
Intrigued? Offended? Want to know more?
NPT TV - the most trusted name in nukes
Interviewees declarations do not neccessarily reflect NPT TV’s opinion.
German United Nations Association