Mushroom cloud from the largest nuclear test the United States ever conducted, Castle Bravo, over the Marshall Islands
The 2014 winner of the Sean MacBride Peace Prize is the Government & People of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, "for their leadership in global efforts to highlight the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and to abolish them. It is also in recognition of their legal case submitted to the International Court of Justice, against all 9 states with nuclear weapons, for failure to honor their disarmament commitments."
Each year the International Peace Bureau awards the prestigious Sean MacBride Peace Prize to an individual or organization that proudly represents our yearning for a more loving world. From War to Peace is proud to collaborate with the IPB, as we cast the Sean Macbride Peace Prize Medallion from the magical alloy Peace Bronze. Peace Bronze is created from disarmed and recycled nuclear weapon systems.
The IPB is located in Geneva, Switzerland, and is our world's longest-serving international peace organization. For well over a century the IPB has understood, as Albert Camus once put it, that "Peace is the only battle worth waging." The IPB networks peace organizations located throughout the world, and is itself a former winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
About 4,000 years ago intrepid Micronesian adventurers ventured far into the Pacific Ocean, finding and settling the atolls now known as the Marshall Islands. Their descendants still live there.
In 1956, the United States Atomic Energy Commission called the Marshall Islands "by far the most contaminated place in the world." It remains so today.
The Marshall Islands were "discovered" by Europeans in the 1520s, and have been "claimed," successively, by the Spanish, English, Germans, Japanese and Americans. The Marshallese did not again achieve full sovereignty until 1986, and then only under a so called "Compact of Free Association" with the United States.
What a tragedy that the western world ever found these small islands. From 1946 to 1958 the United States tested 67 nuclear weapons in the Marshall Islands, including the largest nuclear test the U.S. ever conducted, Castle Bravo.
Accepting the award, Marshall Islands Foreign Minister Tony de Brum talked of the suffering caused to the population by the nuclear explosions. In a powerful and heartfelt speech he named the various categories of people affected and described the loss of entire islands to radioactive contamination. He told of the evacuation of indigenous communities to new sites where they are living in cramped slum conditions, often with no access to medical care for radiation-induced conditions.
He said, â€œI will take this prize and pass it around to all of the islands for everyone to see and feel. I want the children to see that there are people who believe in us...This nuclear madness must be nipped in the bud, it must not happen again. Without your constant confirmation that this is the right thing to do, it would have been very difficult for us to take this action, and to persist with it."
The Republic of the Marshall Islands is very small nation, though it speaks truth to power with a constant and courageous voice. Only 69,000 people live on the tiny atolls that make up the Marshalls. To put things in perspective, the city of Pasadena, California has more than twice as many residents. But the Marshallese have suffered in ways that make size inconsequential, and through their suffering our world can learn an essential lesson: nuclear weapons are a curse, and must be eliminated.
In 2009 the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to President Barack Obama for his "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." The Nobel Committee cited Obama's promotion of nuclear disarmament and a "new climate" in international relations fostered by Obama, especially in reaching out to the Muslim world.
Five years later much has changed. President Obama is now calling for an investment of over $1 trillion in a whole new generation of improved American nuclear weapons. And American outreach to the Muslim world is more often characterized by fighter bombers and drone attacks than by diplomacy and peace initiatives. The Kool-Aid served in the White House is obviously powerful, as it seems to affect most American Presidents in precisely the same, unfortunate way.
It doesn't have to be this way. Let us stand hand-in-hand with the Marshallese in their call for a world free of nuclear weapons.
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