Cancellation of United States-North Korea peace talks highlights nuclear threat
UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings recently addressed a meeting of the International Campaign for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and the International Peace Bureau (IPB) in Geneva.
The breakdown of the North Korea-United Korea peace talks has once again raised the stakes and highlighted the danger of nuclear annihilation.
Read Jennings’ statement below:
“ICAN, which was awarded the Noble Peace Prize in 2017 for its campaign to rid the world of nuclear weapons, joined forces with the IPB, the Nobel Peace Prize winners of 1910, in a campaigners’ conference to give momentum to their common goal to create a nuclear free world.
ICAN founded in 2007 and the IPB founded in 1891 are the newest and one of the oldest international peace organisations. Both have been invited to attend the UNI Global Union World Congress in Liverpool next month and UNI is proud to be a member of both of them.
My remarks to the conference were on the connections between the work of trade unions and their work for peace through the ages. For unions the call was clear: ‘No justice. No peace. No peace. No justice’. Our movement was rooted in the desire for peace, that unions were essential to peace. If you weaken us, deny our rights, strip us of our ability to organise and to take a stand – then democracy, social justice and peace are all casualties.
In 2019 the ILO will celebrate its centenary, created in 1919 following the carnage of the First World War. Unions from many nations insisted that the exploitation of working people, the denial of their voice, the extremism of a brutal world of work required a global institution to promote humanity, decent living standards and peace. It is as true today as it was then that ‘poverty anywhere is a threat to peace everywhere’.
We have found common cause with the peace movement on so many occasions. Unions have been on the frontline of struggles for peace from South Africa, Colombia, Tunisia to Northern Ireland. Union members are so often the first victims of repression to silence and demonise us. A compelling example, on the second day of Hitler coming to power, May 2nd 1933, he shut down the trade union movement.
Our trade union movement rejected the violence we see in the world. The human rights violence where in 59 countries we have witnessed physical attacks, the political violence where democratic spaces are being closed down, the violence of the haters, xenophobes, wall-builders who prey on division, targeting migrant workers and refugees. We fight the economic violence of an unequal world where wealth accumulates to the 1% and where 150 million children are forced to work and 40 million live in slavery. We stand against violence at work in a global society where 4 billion have no social safety net. We want zero poverty and zero emissions and show our rage at the violence against our planet as we say, ‘there are no jobs on a dead planet’.
At UNI Global Union, we took our world congress to Nagasaki in 2010 where we saw the consequences of nuclear Armageddon, spoke with survivors and listened to the next generation. Our delegates witnessed, debated and concluded as ICAN and the IPB have done that we needed a UN Treaty to call for the abolition of nuclear weapons. ICAN deservedly and on behalf of the entire peace movement, including unions, won the Nobel Peace Prize for helping that Treaty to become a reality: their message that ‘it is either the end of the nuclear weapons or the end of us’, has finally registered. There is a long way to go to get nations with nuclear weapons to sign and ratify the Treaty but we are on our way. Austria became only the 10th country to ratify the Treaty.
Our Liverpool Congress theme is ‘Making it Happen’ and we have Peace, and Human Rights firmly on the agenda. ICAN and IPB will be in Liverpool with us, the birthplace of John Lennon who famously said, ‘Give Peace a Chance’.”