Peace prize win­ner hosts unique event

Benalla Ensign - - Front Page - By Si­mon Rup­pert

Be­nalla’s No­bel Peace Prize win­ner Dr Til­man Ruff hosted a unique event at BPACC on Fri­day evening.

Dr Ruff was in town as part of a 900 km bike ride be­tween Mel­bourne and Can­berra aimed at rais­ing aware­ness of is­sues around nu­clear dis­ar­ma­ment.

He was part of a team in­volved with the In­ter­na­tional Cam­paign to Abol­ish Nu­clear Weapons (ICAN), which won the No­bel Peace Prize in 2017.

On Fri­day he brought the prize to BPACC as part of a free pub­lic pre­sen­ta­tion, which fea­tured high-pro­file key­note speak­ers and hard-hit­ting clips, which in­cluded first-hand sto­ries from sur­vivors of nu­clear at­tacks.

The evening was opened by Be­nalla Mayor Don Firth, who in­tro­duced Nancy Atkin from the Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion for the Preven­tion of War.

She talked about key is­sues sur­round­ing the his­tory of nu­clear dis­ar­ma­ment be­fore hand­ing over to Dr Ruff.

‘‘It’s al­most half a cen­tury since a num­ber of states made a legally bind­ing com­mit­ment to elim­i­nate nu­clear ar­se­nals, but they’re still there’’ Dr Ruff said.

‘‘(And), in spite of re­newed con­fi­dence in that treaty, noth­ing has ever been agreed.

‘‘At a world sum­mit . . . the largest meet­ing of heads of states ever held could agree noth­ing on dis­ar­ma­ment.’’

‘‘It was clear that it was busi­ness as usual. But at the same time we had this ex­tra­or­di­nary in­spi­ra­tion from the Gov­ern­ment of Canada, a civil so­ci­ety coali­tion that dealt lots of dif­fer­ent or­gan­i­sa­tions in to­gether, work­ing for a treaty to ban anti-per­sonal land­mines,’’ Dr Ruff said.

‘‘Work­ing with the Red Cross and UN part­ners could achieve a treaty in less than a decade de­spite the op­po­si­tion of the ma­jor users and pro­duc­ers from pow­er­ful states like Rus­sia and China who op­posed it.

‘‘That was a real in­spi­ra­tion for us. So, in Mel­bourne a group of us thought this (nu­clear dis­ar­ma­ment) is a global is­sue, the ul­ti­mate glob­alised is­sue.

‘‘We need to take it per­son­ally and we can or­gan­ise an in­ter­na­tional cam­paign from Mel­bourne as well as any­where else.

‘‘I think the prin­ci­pals we es­tab­lished then have stood us in good stead.

‘‘The idea was not set­ting up a new or­gan­i­sa­tion, but deal­ing with many ex­ist­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions to find an ef­fec­tive way to work to­gether for a very clear goal of a treaty to pro­hibit and pro­vide for the elim­i­na­tion of the world’s worst nu­clear weapons.

‘‘And to do so based on their un­ac­cept­able hu­man­i­tar­ian con­se­quences.

‘‘The world has banned bi­o­log­i­cal weapons, chem­i­cal weapons, anti-per­sonal land­mines and clus­ter mu­ni­tions.

‘‘All of which are in­hu­mane and in­dis­crim­i­nate.

‘‘All of them cur­rently used in ways that com­ply with in­ter­na­tional law.

‘‘Espe­cially In­ter­na­tional Hu­man­i­tar­ian Law.

‘‘All of them nowhere near as bad as nu­clear weapons.

‘‘They’re the only weapons that pose an existential threat to all of us ev­ery day that they ex­ist.

‘‘A treaty based on their un­ac­cept­able hu­man­i­tar­ian con­se­quences, that was the goal.

‘‘If you agreed with that then you could join ICAN.

‘‘We needed young and old, it needed to be a global cam­paign.

‘‘It needed to work with govern­ments, but it also needed to reach out to com­mu­ni­ties around the world.

‘‘That was clearly the right idea at the right time.

‘‘I think we proved our worth for the govern­ments that were really keen to progress dis­ar­ma­ment, but were as frus­trated as we were.’’

Dr Ruff and his fel­low rid­ers are now back on the road com­plet­ing their mam­moth jour­ney to Can­berra.

They will ar­rive on Septem­ber 20 where they will be es­corted by a fire en­gine and ICAN flags fly­ing on Com­mon­wealth Av­enue, thanks to the support of the ACT Chief Min­is­ter.

● For more in­for­ma­tion on ICAN and the No­bel Peace Ride, visit www.icanw.org/au/no­bel­peac­eride

In­spir­ing: Til­man Ruff dis­cusses the No­bel Peace Prize he won as part of ICAN with the gath­ered crowd at BPACC on Fri­day.

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