His Holiness the Dalai Lama and more than a dozen other Nobel Peace Prize laureates have signed an open letter calling on citizens around the world to join with them in rejecting war and nuclear weapons. The letter was issued by the online global movement platform Avaaz in partnership with International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW).
The peace prize laureates issued the letter on 23 March, 27 days into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has been described as a “special military operation” by the Russian government. It also came days before Russia’s former president, Dmitry Medvedev, said that Russia maintained its right to use nuclear weapons in the event that Russia is attacked by nuclear weapons first, if its nuclear infrastructure was attacked and paralyzed, or if the very existence of Russia were threatened by a non-nuclear attack.
Ukraine has no nuclear weapons, having completely de-nuclearized after the fall of the Soviet Union left the country with thousands of nuclear warheads. In an agreement signed by Ukraine at the time, the Budapest Memorandum, Russia, the UK, and the US agreed to guarantee Ukraine’s security.
In his expression of sadness at the start of the conflict, the Dalai Lama wrote: “War is out-dated—non-violence is the only way. We need to develop a sense of the oneness of humanity by considering other human beings as brothers and sisters.” He concluded by saying: “We must not lose hope. The 20th century was a century of war and bloodshed. The 21st century must be a century of dialogue.”*
The full text of the open letter is as follows:
We reject war and nuclear weapons. We call on all our fellow citizens of the world to join us in protecting our planet, home for all of us, from those who threaten to destroy it.
The invasion of Ukraine has created a humanitarian disaster for its people. The entire world is facing the greatest threat in history: a large-scale nuclear war, capable of destroying our civilization and causing vast ecological damage across the Earth.
We call for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of all Russian military forces from Ukraine, and for all possible efforts at dialogue to prevent this ultimate disaster.
We call on Russia and NATO to explicitly renounce any use of nuclear weapons in this conflict, and we call on all countries to support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons to ensure that we never again face a similar moment of nuclear danger.
The time to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons is now. It is the only way to guarantee that the inhabitants of the planet will be safe from this existential threat.
It is either the end of nuclear weapons, or the end of us.
We reject governance through imposition and threats, and we advocate for dialogue, coexistence and justice.
A world without nuclear weapons is necessary and possible, and together we will build it. It is urgent that we give peace a chance.
Signatories list of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates:
His Holiness The Dalai Lama (1989)
International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (1985)
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (2017)
Juan Manuel Santos (2016)
Kailash Satyarthi (2014)
Leymah Gbowee (2011)
Tawakkul Karman (2011)
Muhammad Yunus (2006)
David Trimble (1998)
Jody Williams (1997)
Jose Ramos-Horta (1996)
Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs (1995)
Óscar Arias Sánchez (1987)
Lech Walesa (1983)
American Friends Service Committee (1947)
International Peace Bureau (1910)
As of this writing, the petition has some 974,998 signatures as it seeks to reach one million.
“We Reject War and Nuclear Weapons” Join The Global Call (Avaaz)
Russia reasserts right to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine (The Guardian)
Why Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons — and what that means in an invasion by Russia (NPR)
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