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The Dalai Lama

Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama arrives to attend a teaching from the Jataka tales at a Buddhist temple in Tsuglagkhang complex, near Dharamsala on March 18, 2022. (Photo: AFP via Getty Images)

Dalai Lama, Other Nobel Winners Demand Explicit Vow Not to Use Nuclear Weapons in Ukraine

"It is either the end of nuclear weapons, or the end of us," the peace prize winners say in an open letter.

Jon Queally

The Dalai Lama is among 16 Nobel Peace Prize laureates who jointly issued an open letter Saturday calling for the immediate end of the attack on Ukraine and an explicit vow from both Russia and NATO forces that nuclear weapons of any kind will not be used as part of this conflict or any other.

"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 reject war and nuclear weapons," the letter declares. "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." 

Backed by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), which won the Nobel in 1985, and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), awarded the prize for similar advocacy in 2017, the letter was also signed by ten other individual winners—including Jody Williams, Kailash Satyarthi, and Óscar Arias Sánchez—as well as the International Peace Bureau, which won the award in 1910, the American Friends Service Committee (1947), and the Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs (1995).

"The invasion of Ukraine has created a humanitarian disaster for its people," the letter continues. "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."

The open letter calls for an immediate ceasefire agreement and the withdrawal of all Russian troops from Ukraine. After over a month of fighting, thousands of Ukrainian civilians have been killed, according to official figures, and millions of refugees have fled across the Ukraine border to neighboring countries while millions more have been displaced internally within the country.

Concern over the possible use of nuclear weapons has been heightened throughout the conflict after Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 27 ordered his military to put its nuclear forces on "special alert"—a move that was immediately condemned as "unacceptable and reckless" by the anti-nuclear group Global Zero.

Since then there has been growing worry that Putin could resort to the use of so-called "tactical" nukes, lower-yield weapons that some have tried to justify as less dangerous or destructive than their larger counterparts. Such arguments, as Common Dreams reported earlier this week, have been roundly rejected.

Anyone suggesting use of even a "small" nuclear weapon, wrote Ploughshares Fund president Joe Circionne this week has "lost touch with the reality of nuclear war. Even the smallest conceivable nuclear blast would be many times more powerful than the largest conventional bomb."

In addition to an end of the war and a vocal promise that nuclear weapons would not be used during the conflict in Ukraine, the open letter issued Saturday by the Nobel laureates calls for all countries of the world "to support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons to ensure that we never again face a similar moment of nuclear danger."

The letter concludes, "It is either the end of nuclear weapons, or the end of us."

The full text of the letter and the list of lead signatories—which can be endorsed by anyone on the Avaaz page—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)


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