The new coronavirus crisis: A global crisis and necessity of international cooperation
1. The new coronavirus crisis
The new coronaviruses (COVID-19) have spread all over the world, as over 1.39 million people have been infected and the death toll has exceeded eighty thousand as of April 8, 2020. Due to the new coronavirus outbreak, the Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which had been scheduled to be held from April 27 to May 22, 2020, was postponed. Japan has also issued the first ever state of emergency declaration on April 7, 2020, based on the revised the special measures law against new types of influenza.
2. A global crisis and necessity of international cooperation
There is no doubt that the new coronavirus crisis is a global crisis.
The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has strictly described the new coronavirus crisis as the worst post-war crisis, saying that the pandemic is "clearly the worst challenge that we are facing since World War Two" He continued that “many people are dying, but it is also devastating economies.”
However, human beings have faced and overcome numerous crises such as epidemics, natural disasters, and the world wars. We have also overcome risks of World War III, by adopting the NPT and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), and by seeking a “world without nuclear weapons and war” through international cooperation. The UN Secretary General Guterres has also stressed the necessity of international cooperation, pointing out that “the lack of cooperation among countries is evident as to epidemic countermeasures. Nothing is more necessary than robust international cooperation.”
3. What we aim at
Although the 2020 NPT Review Conference has been postponed, it is expected to be held in as early as 2021.
Unfortunately, Japan has not signed the TPNW even though it is the only atomic-bombed country in wartime, but the momentum of promoting the TPNW has surely made a progress throughout the world.
The Hibakusha Appeal International Signature Campaign has collected 10.51 million signatures and more than 1,200 mayors have endorsed the appeal as of January 9. As 36 states have ratified the TPNW, 14 more are needed to bring it into force as of March 20. The Treaty shall enter into force 90 days after the 50th instrument of ratification has been deposited (Article 15 of the Treaty). It is expected to take effect within this year although negative effects of the new coronavirus are concerned.
We, as a lawyers’ organization of the only wartime atomic-bombed country, aim at early entry into force of the TPNW and a “world without nuclear weapons and war” in solidarity and cooperation with the international community including national and international organizations that share the common purpose and spirit. The new coronavirus crisis has occurred in the context of globalization. On the other hand, it offers an opportunity to build not confrontation but a relationship of mutual trust for the whole humanity throughout mutual cooperation. We strongly hope that the mutual cooperation brings the crisis to an end at the earliest possible date, and that the postponed NPT Review Conference is held in 2021 to discuss with people around the world what the international community should do to realize a “world without nuclear weapons and war.”
April 8, 2020
President, Japan Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms