GENESEO – At the corner of Main and South Street in Geneseo about a dozen people gathered Friday for a peaceful demonstration organized by the Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace to mark the enactment of a UN treaty banning nuclear weapons.
“Today is the entry into the prohibition into the end of nuclear weapons,” said organizer Holly Adams of Hunt, a member of the GVCP.
At midnight Jan. 21 the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons went into effect. The treaty establishes in international law a categorical ban on nuclear weapons, 75 years after their development and first use. The treaty does not legally apply to the United States as the country has not yet signed or ratified the treaty.
“It is time to get this done,” said Geneseo resident Sally Wood. “I am old enough to remember when Kennedy discussed this in the 1960s. It is like, ‘Come on, guys, lets get this over with.’ ”
For many of those participating, it is important, now more than ever, to strive for peace not war.
“I think it is very important with, especially the time that we are living in, to strive for peace. It was such a horrible thing back when they dropped the bombs, I don’t ever want to see that happen in the world again,” said Jeanie Smith of Geneseo.
The event in Geneseo was one of dozens of events that were happening around the country. At nuclear weapons sites in Tennessee, Kansas City, New Mexico and California, banners declaring “Nuclear weapons are illegal” were planned to be hung on fences at entrances.
“It is a celebration. It is the beginning of the end for nuclear weapons,” said Adams.
With their signs held high residents along with local activists took part in the Geneseo demonstration. Some said it was a small step aimed at creating a big change.
“This is one step. I don’t know where we are on the journey but hopefully it will be the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons. If we could find a way to outlaw them like we did mustard gas than the world would be a better place for everyone,” said Hunt resident Chris Norton.
University campuses that are engaged in support activities for weapons production will be asked to reconsider their activities. Churches, including St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Geneseo, also took part in the event by ringing the church bells at noon.
“I have been involved in peace action groups. The first step is to work with one’s local governments and have a peaceful demonstration like this,” said Geneseo resident Serena Blackburn.
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is a disarmament agreement negotiated and adopted at the United Nations in 2017. The treaty categorically prohibits nuclear weapons and establishes a legal framework for the elimination of such weapons. On Oct. 24, 2020, the treaty reached the requisite 50 ratifications needed for entry into force. With Honduras as the 50th state to ratify, one day after Jamaica and Nauru submitted ratifications, the UN Treaty on The Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was then set to take effect in 90 days, on Jan. 22, 2021. For more information, people can go online to icanw.org.
Members of Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace said they hope their efforts at these and other demonstrations will go a long way to help creating big changes.
“More than two thirds of the nations have spoken and they do not want nuclear weapons,” Adams said. “It is a large percentage of the world and while our work is pretty daunting to get the United States to come on board, we are hoping this will be the beginning to the end of nuclear weapons all over.”
Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace was founded in 1972 by three Livingston County couples with the general objective of fighting against militarism and war. The organization can be found online at www.gvcp.org and on Facebook.