After many decades of struggle by nuclear disarmament activists followed by a decade-long effort by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the UN finally adopted a treaty which categorically prohibits nuclear weapons. The landmark agreement on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted last July 7, 2017 at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
Other weapons of mass destruction have already been declared illegal such as biological and chemical weapons, and nuclear weapons, which are deemed most destructive have not been prohibited, until last July 7.
Miriam College, through the Center for Peace Education (CPE) and Pax Christi-Miriam College (PC-MC) as well as faculty and students who have joined the various activities, was an active part of the overall efforts leading to this extraordinary event.
MC’s involvement began in 2013 when CPE was invited by ICAN to be a partner organization. Thereafter, CPE was invited to participate as one of civil society’s representatives in the conferences held in Norway, Mexico, and Austria. The conferences focused on the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons should they be detonated intentionally or accidentally.
During those conferences, the CPE helped persuade governments, particularly those from Asia, to consider a nuclear weapons ban treaty as a crucial humanitarian initiative. Within the Philippines, the CPE, PC-MC, and MC students and faculty engaged in advocacy efforts with the Department of Foreign Affairs and both chambers of Congress, as well as in awareness-raising efforts with the general public by writing op-ed articles for print media, organizing Nuclear Abolition Day activities, promoting the petition-signing in support of the Global Appeal to Ban Nuclear Weapons, and conducting Disarmament Education Workshops for Teachers. In addition, PC-MC mounted the annual Hiroshima-Nagasaki Exhibit to increase awareness on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. MC’s various units participated actively in these exhibits, in the petition-signing, and in the Nuclear Abolition Day activities.
In the last round of UN negotiations, CPE’s Jasmin Nario Galace and Loreta Castro were invited to join the Campaigners’ Team of ICAN at the UN, to help advocate for a strong treaty with governments that were negotiating the treaty’s provisions. Locally, the CPE and the PC-MC, joined by some students and faculty members of the International Studies Department, organized a Ban the Bomb March.
“MC welcomes the treaty’s adoption with great jubilation! As Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez of Costa Rica, who presided over the negotiating conference said, ‘We are responding to the hopes and dreams of the present and future generations,’” said Dr. Loreta Castro, Program Director of CPE.