WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Nobel Peace Prize laureates called on world leaders Wednesday to bring about the "universal, legal and verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons."
The statement, which came at the end of a three-day annual gathering of peace prize winners, also called for peaceful solutions to armed conflicts in Syria and elsewhere. The winners — seven individual winners along with representatives of some organizations who have won the prize — met in Warsaw this year to mark 30 years since Lech Walesa won the peace prize for leading the Solidarity movement, which helped topple communism in Poland.
Walesa, who recently turned 70 and was a looming presence during the gathering, was Poland's president from 1990-95. Other laureates who attended included Shirin Ebadi of Iran, the Dalai Lama and former South African President F.W. de Klerk. Hundreds of other peace activists from around the world also took part.
A special guest was actress Sharon Stone, who was awarded for her work to fight HIV and AIDS. The laureates' statement called for nonviolence and peaceful methods to end instability and conflict in the world. It said the main threats to humanity are a "destabilized climate, polluted oceans, denuded forests, violent conflicts, nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and war."
It also said that "nuclear weapons are an existential threat to humanity and must never be used again." The laureates called on the Chinese government to release jailed dissident writer Liu Xiaobo, also a Nobel Peace Prize winner.
The meetings were initiated by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 2000. Gorbachev did not attend this year for health reasons. Next year's meeting will be held in Cape Town, South Africa.