The “Global Article 9 Conference to Abolish War” was held in Japan from May 4-6, 2008.
See the official website of the Conference at: whynot9.jp
This three-day event attracted over 33,000 participants nationwide: over 22,000 in Tokyo, 8,000 in Osaka, 2,000 in Hiroshima and 1,000 in Sendai. Close to 200 international guest speakers and participants came from 40 different countries and regions to represent all continents at the conference.
With the participation of Nobel Peace Laureates, intellectuals, cultural figures and NGO activists, the conference has been a forum for dialogue and discussions on the role that citizens of the world can play to realize the principles of Article 9, through promoting disarmament, demilitarization and a culture of peace.
The opening plenary session on May 4th featured keynote speakers Mairead Corrigan Maguire and Cora Weiss, as well as many internationally renowned speakers, including Emmanuel Bombande, Beate Sirota Gordon, Iraqi and US veterans Kasim Turki and Aidan Delgado, Lee Suk-tae and Carlos Vargas Pizarro, to name just a few.
In an arena filled to its capacity, speakers gave outstanding and thought-provoking presentations, taking the public into palpable emotion and inspiring them with their own powerful experiences. For those 3000+ participants who were unable to enter the conference’s main event hall, an improvised venue was created at a nearby park, with speeches form keynote speakers Mairead Corrigan Maguire and Cora Weiss , as well as conference co-initiator Yoshioka Tatsuya. The day ended with live concerts and artistic performances.
On the last day (May 6), participants issued a declaration in which they pledged to carry on the international campaign to support Article 9 “as a shared property of the world” that can “act as an international peace mechanism”and called on governments to adopt similar peace clauses in their constitutions.
Drafted through a participatory process which involved all official guests and the over 200 member Japan organizing committee, the Global Article 9 Declaration to Abolish War provides a set of recommendations to governments and reiterates civil society’s commitments to implement them. Adopted on behalf of all guests and participants, the declaration has been endorsed by Nobel Peace Laureates Mairead Maguire, Jody Williams, by the Nobel Women’s Peace Initiative, as well as by former UN Assistant Secretary General and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq Hans von Sponeck.
Read the Global Article 9 Declaration to Abolish War here.
In addition to the declaration, two statements signed by key participants of the Conference were released – one addressed to the Second Session of the Review Conference of the States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) taking place simultaneously in Geneva, and the other to be taken to the G8 Summit in Hokkaido, Japan in July, under Japanese presidency of the G8.
In addition, messages of support to the conference were sent by high profile guests who, unfortunately, were unable to join the conference at the last minute, including former International Court of Justice Judge Christopher G. Weeramantry and Chief of the NGO Section of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs Hanifa Mezoui.
Japanese media covered the event extensively and positively. Articles have been published in English as well, in Japanese and international newspapers.
See for example:
– “Thousands vow to protect Japan’s pacifist constitution from changes“, Associated Press/International Herald Tribune (May 4, 2008)
– “Thousands convene for int’l Article 9 conference” Japan Today (May 4, 2008)
– “Nobel Peace Prize winner hits moves to change Article 9“ Japan Times (May 5, 2008)
– “Article 9 conference calls for spread of pacifism in Asia” Japan Times (May 6, 2008)
– “Article 9 conference concludes” Associated Press/Kyodo News (May 6, 2008)
In addition, several guests have written their own articles and reports, providing a more in-depth and personal account of the conference.
– Frederic Durand, “Japanese Rainbow Gathers Tens of Thousands to Defend Article 9” International Peace Bureau (May 2008)
– John Junkerman, “The Global Article 9 Conference: Towards the Abolition of War“, Japan Focus (May 25, 2008)
– Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), “Global Article 9 Conference to Abolish War Huge Success” (May 14, 2008)
– Alice Slater, “Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish War Launched in Japan“, CommonDreams.org (June 2, 2008)
– Ann Wright, “Japanese People Still Say “No More Wars“, truthout (May 5, 2008)
From the Conference Onwards
The conference was a success. Many expressed the feeling that it was a “historical moment”, when people from all over Japan and abroad came together to share ideas and energies towards building a world without war. The high numbers of participants reveal that the debate in Japan was in dire need of a new impetus. The Japanese audience was positively surprised to discover the global interest in the issue, while international participants were enthused to learn more about the Article 9 debate in Japan and reflect on the potential of Article 9 principles as an international mechanism to promote global peace and stability.
Like in The Hague in 1999, the prospect of changing the state of the world appears achievable. Japanese participants left motivated and feeling empowered to continue resisting the conservative attempts to amend the Japanese constitution. Likewise, our international colleagues left Japan inspired and eager to bring the principles of Article 9 back to their home countries and to spread those principles abroad.
Now it is time to push the campaign forward. Most important is to keep the momentum built through the conference and to translate its goals and formulated ideas into actions.