Monday November 28, 2011

Australian Red Cross has spearheaded a decision taken on the weekend in Geneva by the supreme governing body of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to work towards a legally binding international agreement to ensure nuclear weapons are never used again and are ultimately eliminated.

The decision to support the initiative was taken by the Council of Delegates of the Movement which is comprised of representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the 187 Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies and the International Federation.

The decision is of critical importance as it challenges the legitimacy of nuclear weapons ever being used as a weapon of war because of the catastrophic humanitarian consequences, in particular on civilian populations, and the threat to world food production over wide areas of the world.

‘Australian Red Cross is proud to have played a leading role in the decision which is the first time the supreme decision making body of the International Red Cross has taken such a definitive stand on this critical issue of International Humanitarian Law,’ said the President of Australian Red Cross, Greg Vickery AM speaking from Geneva.

‘Australian Red Cross worked with Japanese Red Cross and the Norwegian Red Cross to drive the campaign on this issue by convening a meeting in Oslo, Norway earlier this year to draft the resolution which was ultimately passed on the weekend,’ Mr Vickery said.

Australian Red Cross CEO, Mr Robert Tickner said ‘within Australia we have already gained huge public support for this initiative through our Facebook tab and campaign website promoting a referendum on the use of nuclear weapons and building public awareness of the massive destructive capacity of nuclear weapons through a simulated nuclear bomb explosion.’

The ‘Target Nuclear Weapons’ campaign has already received over 23,000 votes with 86% of people voting YES to ban the use of nuclear weapons. Our campaign has reached more than 565,000 people through a social explosion of Facebook posts and tweets calling for a ban on the use of nuclear weapons, and this number is still growing.

‘We are also delighted that we have received strong support for our initiative from the Opposition, from the Australian Greens, and from prominent members of the Government side of the Parliament,’ Mr Tickner said.

‘How wonderful it would be if Australia could be a global champion in support of this Red Cross initiative,’ Mr Tickner said.

Australian Red Cross Head of International Law Dr Helen Durham said ‘the weekend decision makes it abundantly clear that the use of nuclear weapons can never again be considered as legitimate weapons of war.’

‘The proliferation of these weapons in an increasing number of countries and the threat of other groups gaining capacity to use nuclear weapons should be a wake up call to the world and Red Cross will be carrying the message to the Government and to the wider Australian community.’

‘Nuclear weapons are an increasing threat to all civilian populations in the event of conflict. If we can achieve treaties to control the use of land mines and cluster munitions as we successfully have, then we cannot turn our backs on the need to get agreement on a global convention to outlaw this evil weapon forever,’ Mr Tickner said.

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