It happened, Mexico announced a follow-up meeting to continue discussing the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. It’s a no-brainer really, there was so much information, of course we need to speak again.
Speak again we will. Although a date has not yet been set, one thing is crystal clear- there is no way to respond to any use of nuclear weapons. No emergency services can act. No nation has enough burn beds. As the representative of the Netherlands said, this conference has driven home the disastrous impact of nuclear weapons. So much so, that a number of delegations I spoke with were just overwhelmed.
One diplomat, after hearing the presentation by Ira Helfand, said she didn’t know. Didn’t know that nuclear weapons could cause such catastrophic impact. Didn’t realise that this is what the bomb really meant. That was why this conference was so important- so many don’t know, or have forgotten exactly the kind of catastrophic damage even a single nuclear detonation can cause.
Interventions from the floor over the two days emphasized that even with a massive cash injection, no state, or alliance of states, would be able to truly cope with such a disaster. Switzerland noted that they have fallout shelters throughout the country, but even with those, they would not be able to deal with the medical treatments necessary to increase survival rates. There is no adequate emergency response. The overwhelming conclusion by most states who spoke was that since there is no cure, the answer is prevention.
Mexico’s announcement of a follow-up conference to further discuss these issues was greeted with rousing applause, and those standing outside in the freezing cold with banners and signs began cheering- Mexico! Mexico!
We don’t honestly know if this will lead to a process banning nuclear weapons, but it certainly is a great feeling to have focused on these horrible things as weapons- with human lives lost if ever used. While the discussions and presentations were in some ways terrifying, the responses of states, and the overwhelming call for a ban, continues to be empowering.
Many of the statements and presentations made during the conference can be found on the website of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry. Those interested in getting a bit of a blow-by-blow of the conference, can also search twitter- hastags #goodbyenukes #HINW13 and #HINW2013 were all being used repeatedly through the day- expanding this necessary discussion throughout the world.