Dr. Roland Joseph’s speech at the first webinar on educating Haitian Americans about the threat posed by the existence of nuclear weapons

Dr. Roland Joseph’s speech at the first webinar on educating Haitian Americans about the threat posed by the existence of nuclear weapons, sponsored by Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security (CPDCS).

Dr Roland Joseph

Hello everyone,

Boukan News, 04/15/2024 – My name is Roland Joseph. I am originally from Haiti and have been in the United States for ten years. As an independent researcher, I am actively engaged as a member of different organizations, including the Center for Global Nonkilling (CGNK), the International Peace Bureau (IPB), and the International Center for Leadership and Conflict Studies (ICLCS). Since the beginning of this year, I have decided to educate Haitian people, especially Haitians living in the United States, about the risks posed by the existence of nuclear weapons.

Before proceeding, I would like to thank the staff of the Campaign for Peace, Disarmament, and Common Security (CPDCS), particularly Dr. Joseph Gerson, for their invaluable support in making this groundbreaking webinar possible. To my knowledge, this is the first-ever webinar aimed at educating Haitian Americans on the urgent threat posed by nuclear weapons. I feel honored and fortunate to have Dr. Joseph Gerson, the President of CPDCS, and Susan Mirsky, Chair of the Nuclear Disarmament Working Group of Massachusetts Peace Action (MAPA), joining us as committed panelists for this event. Their presence underscores the importance of global solidarity in our collective efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

Speaking of solidarity, I would like to highlight two insightful articles on nuclear disarmament that Lillian Koizumi of the Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue shared with me a few weeks ago. In one of these articles, authored by Daisaku Ikeda and titled “Building Global Solidarity Toward Nuclear Abolition,” Ikeda emphasized, “If nuclear weapons epitomize the forces that would divide and destroy the world, they can only be overcome by the solidarity of ordinary citizens.” This resonates deeply with our passion. To cultivate such solidarity, we must educate people about the danger of nuclear weapons. My involvement in the movement to abolish nuclear weapons was sparked by attending events focused on the risks posed by these weapons.

In May 2018, I had the privilege of attending a peace conference hosted by the Peace and Justice Center of Vermont. During the event, Dr. Timmon Wallis and Vicki Elson gave a compelling presentation on the urgent need to eliminate nuclear weapons. Their insightful approach to the risks posed by these weapons had a profound impact on me by inspiring me to be involved in the movement to abolish them.

The same year, I had the opportunity to attend another informative event at the Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue in Cambridge, Massachusetts. During this event, I was moved by a presentation from a group of young people showcasing the Ikeda Center student-led video project on nuclear abolition. Through this video, they captured the reactions of Bostonians to the risks associated with the existence of nuclear weapons.

I share these experiences to highlight the importance of nuclear disarmament education. People cannot actively oppose something they know little or nothing about. If we aspire to involve more people in the fight against the dangers of nuclear weapons, it is imperative to educate them about the dangers posed by the existence of those nukes.

Since the beginning of this year, I have taken the initiative of publishing articles in Haitian Creole regarding the dangers posed by nuclear weapons on the Boukan News website, an online Haitian newspaper. Encouraged by the positive feedback from the public, the editor-in-chief of the journal pushed me to continue publishing more articles on the subject.

While it is true that Haiti is not a direct target of nuclear attacks, its geographic proximity to the United States, the second most powerful nuclear state in the world after Russia, cannot be overlooked. I strongly believe that in the event of a nuclear war involving the United States, all Caribbean nations would be significantly affected within minutes of the attack.

More than two million Haitians reside outside of Haiti, with a significant portion living in the United States, particularly in states such as Florida, New York, Massachusetts, Georgia, New Jersey, and Connecticut. They collectively send millions of dollars each year to support their families back home. However, in the event of a nuclear conflict involving the United States and other nuclear states, such as Russia, the survival of these Haitian diaspora communities would be uncertain. The devastation of such a conflict would likely prevent many of them from continuing to support their loved ones, as the businesses or the institutions they work for could be destroyed afterward.

There is no doubt that Haiti is currently facing other security challenges, with the control of 90% of the capital by armed gangs who are tragically killing innocent people. This disastrous situation has led to a humanitarian crisis within the country. Therefore, any escalation of a nuclear conflict between states possessing nuclear weapons will worsen this already precarious situation.

Additionally, it is crucial to recognize that more than half of Haiti’s national budget depends on support from the international community. However, in the aftermath of a nuclear war, international institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, that play a crucial role in helping Haiti in its poverty reduction efforts may face significant obstacles in sustaining their support. It’s not because they don’t want to, but because the damage will be so enormous that one might wonder if these institutions and the people leading them will still exist.

Also, the use of nuclear weapons in a conflict would pose significant challenges for a country like Haiti, mainly due to the extensive atmospheric disturbances resulting from the atomic explosion. This would accelerate climate change and heighten the likelihood of natural disasters. It would destroy the agricultural infrastructure, contaminating the soil and water.

Some believe that nuclear weapons will not be deployed in conflicts because of the principle of nuclear deterrence. However, it is crucial to recognize the profound risk the world faces of entering a nuclear war. Currently, many nuclear-armed states are involved in conflicts with nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon states. This heightened global tension is reflected in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ doomsday clock, which indicates 90 seconds to midnight in 2024. Scientists have maintained the clock at this perilous point for various reasons, including looming threats of nuclear war and the climate crisis.

In the event of a nuclear war, the interconnectedness and interdependence of humanity make all of us vulnerable to annihilation. Aware of this common peril, it becomes imperative that we come together in collective efforts to mitigate and even eradicate the threats posed by the existence of nuclear weapons. Collaboration is fundamental as we work together to eliminate these weapons before they eliminate us.

This webinar is crucial in that it will empower Haitian immigrants, including church leaders, academics, peace and human rights activists, youth leaders, and Haitian American political figures, among others, with the knowledge and tools essential to understanding the dangers posed by nuclear weapons. This is a significant milestone as an inaugural event for a Caribbean nation.

Dr. Gerson and I are committed to exploring additional avenues to raise awareness in the Haitian community and other Latin and Caribbean communities in the United States. We will foster a more informed and vigilant global society in pursuing global nuclear abolition. Thank you!

Source: https://cpdcs.org/introduction-to-nuclear-dangers-and-disarmament-diplomacy/


Roland Joseph, Ph.D.

Department of Conflict Resolution Studies
Halmos College of Arts and Sciences

Nova Southeastern University

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