Jacqueline Cabasso’s MacBride Peace Prize acceptance speech

November 24, 2008
Jacqueline Cabasso’s November 14, 2008 speech in Copenhagen accepting the Sean MacBride Peace Prize from the International Peace Bureau is now online at www.lcnp.org. Excerpts are included in the below press release. For photos and more information about the prize, see www.ipb.org.
Copenhagen, Nov. 17, 2008.  Contact: Colin Archer, Geneva Tel. +41 22 731 6429, mailbox@ipb.org
On Friday, Nov. 14, the International Peace Bureau (IPB) presented its annual award, the Sean MacBride Peace Prize, to Jacqueline Cabasso, a well-known US advocate of nuclear disarmament. The prize was awarded during the IPB’s annual seminar, this year held in Copenhagen. IPB President Tomas Magnusson declared: “At this crucial time in history, just days after the momentous US election result, IPB believes this award to Jackie Cabasso will help underline the urgency for the new administration and for all other nuclear-armed states, of taking bold steps towards the elimination of nuclear weapons. She has played a vital role within the movement by acting as a constant ‘watchdog’, monitoring closely and challenging the work going on inside the nuclear weapons laboratories; and as critical voice in the nuclear debate ‘beyond the Washington beltway’.”
The Geneva-based International Peace Bureau is a global network of over 300 peace organisations in 70 countries. It won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1910.  Every year IPB awards the MacBride Peace Prize to a person or organisation that has done outstanding work for peace, disarmament and/or human rights. These were the principal concerns of Sean MacBride, the distinguished Irish statesman who was Chairman of IPB from 1968-74 and President from 1974-1985. He was the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize (1974) – awarded for his wide-ranging work, which included roles such as co-founder of Amnesty International, Secretary-General of the International Commission of Jurists, and UN Commissioner for Namibia. Past winners of the MacBride Peace Prize include: (2007) Jayantha Dhanapala, Sri Lanka, former UN Under Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs; (2002) Barbara Lee, only member of the US Congress to vote against the open-ended authorization for the “war on terror”; and (1998) John Hume, a member of the European Parliament who consistently advocated non-violent solutions in Northern Ireland and was subsequently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. For more information on IPB and the MacBride Peace Prize, see www.ipb.org.
Jacqueline Cabasso has served as Executive Director of the Western States Legal Foundation (WSLF) in Oakland, California, USA, since 1984, and has been involved in nuclear disarmament, peace and environmental advocacy at the local, national and international levels for over 25 years. In her home region, with WSLF, she has provided legal support for nonviolent protesters; engaged in environmental review proceedings and litigation to challenge new nuclear facilities, transportation of nuclear waste, and proposals to base nuclear-armed warships; and organized grassroots multi-issue coalitions. Cabasso is a leading voice for nuclear weapons abolition, speaking at events across North America, Europe, and Asia.  She serves on the Steering Committee of United for Peace and Justice, the largest anti-war coalition in the US, and convenes its Nuclear Disarmament & Redefining Security working group.  In 1995 she was a “founding mother” of the Abolition 2000 Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons, the largest anti-nuclear network in the world, and she continues to serve on its Coordinating Committee. Since August 2007, Cabasso has served as the North American Coordinator for Mayors for Peace. She is a contributor to Nuclear Disorder or Cooperative Security? U.S. Weapons of Terror, the Global Proliferation Crisis and Paths to Peace (2007) and the co‑author of Risking Peace: Why We Sat in the Road (1985), an account of the huge 1983 nonviolent protest at the Livermore Nuclear Weapons Laboratory and the subsequent mass trial conducted by WSLF.  Her writings have appeared in numerous publications including The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the journal Social Justice, the Oakland Tribune, and the San Francisco Chronicle.
In her acceptance speech, Ms. Cabasso said in part:
“The Encarta Encyclopedia describes militarism as ‘advocacy of an ever-stronger military as a primary goal of society, even at the cost of other social priorities and liberties.’  As disquieting as it may be, this definition accurately describes the trajectory of United Statesnational security policy that the next U.S. President will inherit. And it is reflected in the national security policies of a growing number of other countries.
The policy of the nuclear weapon states, in particular the U.S., U.K. and France can be characterized as ‘fewer but newer,’ and is increasingly ‘capacity-based.’  These states cling to the notion of ‘deterrence,’ but the ‘threat’ they seek to deter is an unknown and uncertain future.  They claim that reductions in numbers from the insane heights of the Cold War constitute meaningful disarmament, but disarmament is not just about the numbers.  Led by the U.S., they are modernizing and qualitatively improving their ‘enduring’ nuclear arsenals – both warheads and delivery systems.
What is to be done?  The answer is clear to ordinary people.  We need to fundamentally redefine security.  We must put universal human security and ecological sustainability at the heart of conflict resolution and prevention.  We must divest precious resources from militarism and invest them instead in this new security paradigm.

What’s called for is a straightforward, unambiguous demand for the global abolition of nuclear weapons.  This suggests the need forimmediate negotiations and a timebound framework.  Our demand, however, must be coupled with a clear-eyed recognition of the central role nuclear weapons continue to play in the National Security State, firmly in place since 1945, and a much deeper understanding of the powerful forces that have successfully perpetuated the nuclear weapons enterprise despite the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War nearly 20 years ago.

With the global economy in collapse and the worldwide surge of hope in response to the election of Barack Obama as U.S. President, the time is ripe for another massive surge of public demand – from the bottom up – for the abolition of nuclear weapons.  But this time, we must understand that nuclear disarmament is not enough, and that we can’t achieve it alone.  This time we must insist that nuclear disarmament serve as the leading edge of a global trend towards demilitarization and redirection of military expenditures to meet human needs and save the environment.”

Cabasso can be reached at cell +1 (510) 306-0119 and beginning Nov. 19 in California at +1 (510) 839-5877. Email: wslf (at) earthlink.net.