Open Letter to the President of the 2005 NPT Review Conference released

May 27, 2005


May 27, 2005

H.E. Mr. Sergio de Queiroz Duarte
President of the Seventh Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
Conference Secretariat
United Nations

Your Excellency,

Thank you for the most cordial reception given the Mayoral Delegation to the Review Conference. Under separate cover, I am transmitting to you the final list of signatories to the International Mayoral Statement. Its 456 signatories were joined by 208 other representatives of municipalities who expressed support for the 2020 Vision Campaign in other forms. It might also interest you to know that the membership of Mayors for Peace has grown from under 600 to over 1000 since our Campaign was launched in November 2003. This surge in membership continues apace.

I hope you will excuse me for employing the format of an open letter to communicate with you and all the participants in the Review Conference ? governmental and non-governmental. I do not have the slightest doubt that every possible effort has been made by you and the vast majority of the participants to produce a meaningful outcome. All those who labored in good faith have my sincerest thanks for what might well seem a thankless task.

I wish you strength and inspiration, if you undertake to submit a presidential statement for acceptance by the Conference. But as I am sure you would agree, a presidential statement is no substitute for a thoroughly considered and accepted Final Document, such as the 2000 Review Conference Final Document. As a veteran of the Conference on Disarmament, you surely had no illusions about the depth of the crisis confronting the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament agenda. Obstacles that could not be overcome in five years in Geneva were unlikely to yield easily to resolution in four weeks in New York among essentially the same parties. And looking forward, if the heightened stakes at the Review Conference could not elicit more cooperation, what chance is there that the Conference on Disarmament will now rise to its calling?

In both Geneva and New York, we have seen countries obstruct work on crucial tasks through crass exploitation of consensus rules. By procedural means, a mere handful of countries can thwart the will of the great majority of countries. Given what is at stake for humanity, this is intolerable. That a country would then turn around and condemn these multilateral institutions as ineffective is positively outrageous. We must warn those who behave this way ? to paraphrase President Abraham Lincoln:

You can thwart all of the people some of the time.

You can thwart some of the people all of the time.

But you cannot thwart all of the people all of the time.

We will be watching the Conference on Disarmament with a wary eye. Meanwhile, we believe it prudent to begin preparations for an alternative venue not hamstrung by consensus procedures. You will recall that, in my letter to the participants in the Atlanta Consultation II, I declared that Mayors for Peace was ready to engage in careful consideration of new ways forward should the established bodies remain blocked. This task is more urgent than ever today. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to be able to report to the world in my 60th Anniversary Peace Declaration on the development of a viable option. So, Mayors for Peace will be seeking the wise counsel of all people of goodwill as we move forward.

The 2020 Vision and the Mayoral Statement call for negotiations to begin this year. The lack of a positive vision evidenced in some quarters is, of course, disappointing. But disappointment does not equal discouragement. The will of the great majority will find democratic expression in our cities, our nations, and the world. We continue to seek this year a decision to launch substantive work on a program for the total elimination of all nuclear arsenals. We go forward, confident that lessons have been learned and that actions will follow.

Thank you for the historic role you have shouldered with such patience and perseverance.

Most respectfully,

Tadatoshi Akiba
Mayor of Hiroshima
President, Mayors for Peace