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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 July 12 - 18  > Smaller countries play important role in producing antinuke UN treaty
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2017 July 12 - 18 [PEACE]
column 

Smaller countries play important role in producing antinuke UN treaty

July 13, 2017
Akahata ‘current’ column

The isthmus of Central America connects North America with South America. On the isthmus is Costa Rica whose territory is smaller than Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido. It is the second country in the world following Japan to abolish its military by adopting a pacifist constitution.

Costa Rica established its pacifist constitution based on remorse over its 1948 civil war. The underlying idea was that the existence of military forces itself would tempt state authorities to address social problems with militaristic measures, which would eventually lead to social turmoil. In addition, doing away with the military enables a government to redistribute the previous military expenditures to education, welfare, and environmental policies. Although the Central American country has experienced various difficulties in its nation building process, opinion polls show that many people are happy with their homeland.

As seen in the past when the Costa Rican president took the initiative to work to end civil wars in neighboring countries, the country has been promoting “peace exports” centering on democracy, human rights, and environment. It has also worked hard to establish a ban on nuclear weapons. In collaboration with NGOs, the Costa Rican government in 1997 filed a draft of a treaty prohibiting nuclear arms to the UN. Ten years later, the government submitted to the UN a proposal to start a negotiation to create a nuclear weapons ban treaty.

On July 7, the treaty to make nuclear weapons illegal was adopted at a UN conference with support from 122 member countries. This achievement, an epoch-making event in human history, was produced thanks to efforts made by many smaller countries. The UN Conference to negotiate the treaty was chaired by the Costa Rican ambassador. The Cuban ambassador described the treaty as a fruit that has finally ripened after 70 years of international negotiations.

On the other hand, at the latest G20 Summit meeting, the U.S., Russia, and other major powers as well as newly developed countries showed serious disagreements concerning the efforts to tackle climate change. They were even unable to find solutions for many issues such as the growing economic disparities within nations and between nations and armed conflicts in the world.

Journalist Ito Chihiro said that while larger countries’ influence is diminishing somewhat, smaller countries are coming into the spotlight in the international political arena. Many non-superpowers and civil societies are advocating the values shared by the majority of the international society and seeking to ensure that all people enjoy emotional and physical wellbeing. This clearly illustrates the arrival of a new era.
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