NEW YORK (IDN) – The United Nations has launched a new multi-country initiative to speed up action to end child marriage by 2030 and protect the rights of millions of the most vulnerable girls around the world.

Announcing the joint initiative on the International Women’s Day March 8, the UN Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) said the Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage will involve families, communities, governments and young people.

The UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage is being supported by Canada, the European Union, Italy, Netherlands, and the UK.

- Photo: 2020

75th Anniversary of the Bombings of Hiroshima & Nagasaki

Viewpoint by Sergio Duarte

The author is Ambassador, President of Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, Former UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.

NEW YORK (IDN) –Seventy-five years ago, on August 6, 1945, a nuclear attack razed the city of Hiroshima. Three days later, Nakgasaki suffered identical fate. More than 200,000 men, women and children suddenly lost their lives, and many others perished from the effects of radiation during the next decades. Some survivors, known as hibakusha in Japan, whose average age is 82, still struggle to make their bitter experience known to the remainder of humanity, under the motto “no one should suffer what we have suffered”.

Since 1945 nine countries – China, the DPRK, United States, France, Israel[1], India, Pakistan, United Kingdom and Russia – acquired and developed atomic arsenals and are willing to use them in the circumstances they deem adequate.

Also, during these seventy-five years the world experienced periods of aggravation in the rivalry and animosity between nuclear-armed nations that at times risked actual war. In the period known as the Cold War the two major nuclear nations amassed a staggering total of 70,000 atomic weapons. In the past few decades th countries negotiated between themselves a number of agreements aimed at reducing their stocks.

Lately, however, most such agreements have been abandoned or terminated: the last one standing is due to expire in early February 2021[2]. Some of the other possessors set voluntary limits to their arsenals. The total number of nuclear warheads existing today in the world is estimated at approximately 14,000[3], about 96% of which in the hands of Russia and the United States.

The detonation of a fraction of those weapons would be enough to decimate entire populations and cause widespread and perhaps irreversible damage to health, the environment and the economic and social order. Such a calamity would render human life untenable and wipe out civilization as we know it[4].

Nevertheless, all those nine countries continue to increase the destructive potential of their nuclear forces, either by adding new weapons to their inventories or through the relentless development of advanced technologies, about which there are no agreed international norms. The yearly cost of the maintenance and modernization is several times greater than what would be needed to finance the implementation of the sustainable development goals defined by the United Nations[5].

Nuclear countries argue that their armament is indispensable for their own security. They have systematically opposed proposals for the multilateral negotiation of legally binding and irreversible instruments for the elimination of nuclear weapons and contend that such a move would be premature and counterproductive.

With the support and encouragement of civil society strong efforts have been made at the United Nations and other forums to alleviate and ultimately reverse this situation through the negotiation and adoption of multilateral agreements, conventions and treaties. Unfortunately, concrete results so far have been meagre and insufficient. The main instruments in force, such as the ones that instituted zones free of nuclear weapons in five continents[6] and the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), of 1970, only aim at preventing non-possessors of such weapons to acquire them.

Up to this day, the formal renunciation of the nuclear option accepted by 186 members of the latter instrument was not met by effective measures of nuclear disarmament correspondingly pledged by its five nuclear weapon States parties. The Comprehensive Test-ban Treaty (CTBT) concluded in 1996, which forbids experimental nuclear detonations and is an important barrier against proliferation has not yet come into force[7].

In 2010 the 191 States parties to the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons unanimously recognized the “catastrophic consequences” of the use of nuclear weapons[8]. In the following years the growing frustration of a significant majority of countries with the lack of concrete progress in nuclear disarmament and with the apparent absence of political will on the part of the possessors to accept firm commitments to that end fueled intense debate within the United Nations.

In spite of fierce opposition of the nuclear-armed countries, 122 States negotiated in 2017 the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) [9], which offers a path to the elimination of nuclear arsenals. Up to now, 81 countries have signed and 39 ratified it. 50 ratifications are needed for its entry into force.   

Every year on August 6 at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, at 8:15 a.m. – the time when the atomic bomb hit the city – a ceremony presided by the Prime Minister of Japan is held in honour of the victims and in celebration of peace and harmony among nations[10]. On August 9 Nagasaki remembers its own tragedy with a similar observance.

The memory of the tragic devastation and suffering caused by the use of nuclear weapons 75 years ago strengthens the firm belief that such weapons must never be used again and that the only way to ensure this is their complete elimination. [IDN-InDepthNews – 06 August 2020]

Photo: Hiroshima Ruins, October 5, 1945. Photo by Shigeo Hayashi.

IDN is the Flagship Agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

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This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence. You are free to share, remix, tweak and build upon it non-commercially.

[1]Officially, Israel does not confirm or deny possession of nuclear weapons.

[2] Once the current START II treaty expires, there will be no bilaterally agreed limits to the number of nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles that each side can possess.

[3] The Stockolm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) estimates a total of 13.865 warheads, of which 3.750 are deployed. 2.000 of those remain in state of “high alert”.  



[6] International treaties also designate the Antarctic, outer space and celestial bodies and the ocean floor and its subsoil as free of nuclear weapons.

[7] Entry into force of the CTBT is still contingent on the signature and/or ratification of eight countries nominally specified in the text of the Treaty. Those that signed but did not ratify are China, United States, Israel and Iran, while the DPRK, Egypt, India and Pakistan neither signed nor ratified.  

[8] NPT/CONF.2010/50 (Vol. I).

[9] See text at


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