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Geneva: ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger appeals to States to ensure nuclear weapons are never used again

20-04-2010 News Footage

Addressing diplomats at the ICRC's headquarters in Geneva today, the organisation's president, Jakob Kellenberger, appealed to States to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used again. "Nations have a historic and unprecedented opportunity to bring the era of nuclear weapons to an end," he said.

 ref: V F CR-F-01054A  

 Date, location: Geneva, 20.04.10  

 Length: 03'36"  

 Format: 16:9 anamorphic  

 Production: Jan Powell  

 Sound: English, French  

 Copyright: ICRC Access All   

 ICRC ref: V F CR-F-01054A  

Mr Kellenberger said recent positive developments such as the endorsement by the United Nations Security Council of the objective of " a world without nuclear weapons " and the recognition by Presidents Obama and Medvedev of their countries'responsibilities in reducing these weapons signalled an unprecedented opportunity to reduce and eventually eliminate the threat posed by these arms. Mr Kellenberger underscored the importance of next month's Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Mr Kellenberger recalled the testimony of ICRC delegate Marcel Junod, who was the first foreign doctor to bring assistance to victims of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945. " The centre of the city was a sort of white patch, flattened and smooth like the palm of a hand. Nothing remained, " Mr Junod w rote after his visit on 8 September 1945. Witnesses told him that within seconds of the blast, " thousands of human beings in the streets and gardens in the town centre, struck by a wave of intense heat, died like flies. Others lay writhing like worms, atrociously burned. "

Mr Kellenberger stressed that the death toll in Hiroshima and Nagasaki doubled or tripled over the five years following the blasts, and warned that 65 years later the world remained ill equipped to assist the potential victims of a nuclear strike. " Modern-day nuclear weapons would no doubt cause immeasurably more damage than the atomic bombs that hit Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 " , the president said. Mr Kellenberger concluded that, " the ICRC finds it difficult to envisage how a use of nuclear weapons could be compatible with the rules of international humanitarian law. "


00:00 Jacob Kellenberger, ICRC President, (English)

Today, nations have a historic and unprecedented opportunity to bring the era of nuclear weapons to an end. In recent weeks and months, energetic diplomatic efforts have put nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation at the top of States'agendas.

00:19 (Close up) The ICRC calls on States to pursue concrete steps that will lead to

a legally-binding, international agreement to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons. The world cannot afford to wait.

Nuclear weapons are unique in their destructive power. They cause unspeakable human suffering and pose a grave threat to future generations and the survival of humanity.

Nearly sixty-five years ago, it was an ICRC delegate, Marcel Junod, who was the first foreign doctor to bring help to the victims of Hiroshima. He described scenes of unimaginable devastation and anguish.

Modern-day nuclea r weapons would no doubt cause immeasurably more damage than the atomic bombs that hit Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

I therefore appeal to all States to work together and seize this unique opportunity to ensure that nuclear weapons are prohibited and eliminated, once and for all.

01:29 GVs various, ICRC Headquarters, Geneva

02:02 Statement as above, (French)

Les nations ont aujourd'hui une occasion historique et sans précédent de mettre fin à l'ère de l'arme nucléaire. Ces dernières semaines et derniers mois, des efforts diplomatiques intenses ont été déployés en vue d'inscrire le désarmement et la non-prolifération nucléaires au premier plan des priorités des États. 

02:21 (close-up) Le Comité international de la Croix-Rouge appelle les États à prendre des mesures concrètes afin qu'un accord international juridiquement contraignant visant à interdire et à éliminer les armes nucléaires soit adopté. Le monde ne peut pas se permettre d'attendre.

Les armes nucléaires sont uniques du fait de leur pouvoir de destruction. Elles provoquent des souffrances humaines atroces et représentent une gravemenacespour les générations futures et la survie de l'humanité.

Il y a près de soixante-cinq ans, c'est un délégué du Comité international de la Croix-Rouge, Marcel Junod, qui a été le premier médecin étranger à secourir les victimes d'Hiroshima. Les scènes de dévastation et d'angoisse qu'il a décrites étaient inimaginables.

Les armes nucléaires d'aujourd'hui causeraient sans aucun doute des dommages beaucoup plus graves que les bombes atomiques larguées sur Hiroshima et Nagasaki en 1945.

Aussi j'exhorte tous les États à collaborer et à saisir cette occasion unique de parvenir à l'interdiction et l'élimination des armes nucléaires une fois pour toutes.

03:36 ENDS




  For further information, please contact:
  Florian Westphal, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 2282 or +41 79 217 3280
  For broadcast tapes and access to footage contact:
  Jan Powell, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 792519314
  A press release, the full texts of President Kellenberger's statement and of Marcel Junod's article describing his impressions of Hiroshima
  are available at

  • Copyright: ICRC
  • Running time: To be completed
  • Type of product: Book