UNI Global Union General Secretary, Philip Jennings, is addressing a gathering of UNI’s Japanese affiliates in Nagasaki, on the importance of unions as a pillar of peace, democracy and human rights.
During his visit, Jennings is also meeting with the Mayor of Nagasaki, Tomihisa Taue, and Hodo Nakamura, the current governor of Nagasaki. Nagasaki holds a special place in world history, but also in the heart of UNI Global Union. In 2010, UNI held its World Congress in the city and reconfirmed its lifelong commitment to peace and nuclear disarmament.
In his speech to affiliates this week, Jennings will highlight the energy created by the 2010 Congress, as leaders from over 100 nations came to Nagasaki for the first time and bore witness to the humanitarian consequences of the detonation of the nuclear bomb. The entire UNI family effectively became global peace messengers.
The demand from the UNI Congress in Nagasaki was: if the World could ban landmines, cluster bombs and biological & chemical weapons, why not nuclear weapons, too?
Jennings said, “The creation of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons last year is a sign that a better world is possible, and it is a significant step on the road to banning nuclear weapons which we envisaged back in Nagasaki in 2010.
“UNI is a member and a strong supporter of ICAN who won the Nobel Peace in 2017 for its commitment to nuclear disarmament and was the catalyst behind the UN Treaty. We pay tribute to ICAN who have been flag-bearers for peace and richly deserve the Nobel Prize.
“We are aware the Treaty by itself is not enough because without the support of the powers who possess nuclear weapons, the time remains two minutes to midnight on the Doomsday Clock.”
In Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the devastating power of nuclear weapons was felt first hand, with over 225,000 civilians losing their lives and millions more suffering the effects of radiation. Every year, the Nagasaki-Hiroshima Peace Messengers visit UNI Global Union head office in Nyon, Switzerland, before presenting a petition to the United Nations in Geneva calling for a global ban on nuclear weapons.
“We are steadfast in our commitment to the peace movement,” said Jennings, “Unions are committed to fighting against poverty, inequality and injustice, but we have also been at the forefront of the struggle for peace for 150 years.”
“Peace and democracy have always been core values of the labour movement. From the Middle East peace process and the end of apartheid in South Africa to the Northern Ireland, Nepal and Colombia peace agreements, we know only too well that true change can often come about through the actions of working people. Tunisia is another case in point, the Tunisian Quartet, included the unions, and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for finding a peaceful path for the country after the Jasmine Revolution – we are advocates for peace.
“That’s why the labour movement’s role in building peace in an increasingly fractured world will be a major feature in UNI Global Union’s World Congress in Liverpool in June. “