On this day in 1945, around 80,000 people died as a result of the detonation of a single bomb. Many more died from radiation-related illnesses in the weeks, months and decades that followed. The bomb, codenamed Fat Man, was the second of only two nuclear weapons to be used in warfare. The United States dropped the bomb on the Japanese city, Nagasaki.

Now, 71 years later, nine countries possess approximately 15, 800 nuclear weapons – 15, 800 ticking time bombs – and are investing billions of dollars in modernisation programmes, threatening the world’s population for many years to come.

Never again

Next week, at the final session of the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations in Geneva, states may finally agree to start negotiations on a treaty banning these horrific weapons of mass destruction.

The chair of the OEWG officially presented his zero draft report on 5 August and the group will reconvene on 16, 17 and 19 of August to finalise and adopt the report.

If the OEWG agrees to recommend to the UN General Assembly in October that negotiations should begin on a ban treaty, negotiations could start as early as 2017. The vast majority of states support a legally-binding prohibition on nuclear weapons, due to the catastrophic humanitarian impact witnessed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and as a result of nuclear testing.

The nuclear-armed states have refused to participate in the OEWG, demonstrating that they are nervous the process will succeed.

WILPF’s disarmament programme, Reaching Critical Will has attended the first two OEWG sessions in February and May 2016, and will be there again next week, as states debate the OEWG draft report and recommendations to take to the UN General Assembly in October. To keep up to date on the third and final session of the OEWG, subscribe to the First Committee mailing list.

A nuclear weapon free world: 71 years in the making – is there an end in sight?

WILPF has been a strong advocate for a ban on nuclear weapons and has argued for the elimination of nuclear weapons since they were used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

On 5 August 2016, on the eve of the 71st anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, WILPF hosted a webinar featuring key anti-nuclear campaigners, Ray Acheson, Director of Reaching Critical Will, Helen Caldicott, veteran anti-nuclear campaigner and WILPF Peace Women Laureate, and Daniel Högsta, International Network Coordinator of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

In this webinar, the anti-nuclear campaigners assessed the state of play of nuclear disarmament and discussed how the humanitarian approach to nuclear disarmament might be just what we need to move closer to a nuclear weapon-free world. The discussion was facilitated by Chris Henderson, Communications Coordinator of WILPF Australia. You can find a recording of the webinar here.