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At a G7 summit high on ambition, nuclear disarmament takes a backseat to Zelensky’s diplomatic appeals

Picture above is from Zelensky’s previous visit to Washington, but it’s the same idea.

The Conversation, May 21, 2023 Donna Weeks, Professor of Political Science, Musashino University

Hiroshima, the site of this year’s G7 summit, is one of just a handful of places in the world that provides a stark reminder of the horrors of war.

The A-bomb Dome in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, for example, is one of few structures left standing in the neighbourhoods that were flattened by the atomic blast in August 1945. Around the city, there are also “survivor trees” from the blast and burn marks on temple stoneware and statues – reminders of how far and wide it radiated.

It is no surprise that Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida chose Hiroshima as the setting for the 2023 G7 meeting. Not only are his electoral constituency and family roots located here, he is also an advocate of a nuclear weapons-free world.

And there were hopes the meeting could spur further action towards this ultimate goal of global nuclear disarmament. Kishida said ahead of the meeting,

I believe the first step toward any nuclear disarmament effort is to provide a first-hand experience of the consequences of the atomic bombing and to firmly convey the reality.

Ukraine takes priority

It wasn’t to be. Though the final communique from the summit did make a vague commitment toward a “Hiroshima Vision” for nuclear disarmament, it took a backseat to the main headline from the weekend – the continued global support for Ukraine in its war against Russia.

An “unscheduled” visit by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky certainly raised the stakes for the summit at a critical time in the war.

On Friday evening, the leaders released a strongly worded, six-page statement on Ukraine, which reaffirmed their commitment “to stand together against Russia’s illegal, unjustifiable and unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine” and condemned “Russia’s manifest violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the impact of Russia’s war on the rest of the world”.

But it was the potential impact of the in-person attendance that might amplify the otherwise rhetorical words of the summit leaders………………………

Zelensky’s opportunity to make a direct appeal to the leaders may end up being the key statement of the summit, distinguishing it from previous gatherings……………………………………………….

Inevitably, at each G7 Summit, there are calls for a review of its purpose. Originally an “informal” grouping of the world’s leading economies, it has become, like the UN Security Council, an institution of a different time. It is somewhat of an anachronism, no longer representative of today’s global economy.

…………………………………….. This summit will be most likely be remembered for Zelensky’s visit and the message it intended to send to Russia. But as leaders make their journeys home, wars will continue and all we are left with are the platitudes that will carry over to the next G7 Summit in 2024.

As for the ageing hibakusha, the survivors of the 1945 atomic bomb in Hiroshima, this may have been their last major opportunity to press for an end to nuclear weapons.


May 22, 2023 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international

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