Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty adopted

History has been written.

The legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination has been adopted at the United Nations today. 122 countries voted for the treaty, the Netherlands voted against, Singapore abstained.

Civil society participation was so huge that another room had to be found for everybody to be able to listen to the conference. In the final session of the conference, the president of the Conference Ambassador Whyte asked if there is a consensus on the adoption of the treaty. The answer was standing ovations. Nevertheless, the Netherlands asked for voting.

The text of the treaty is available here: http://www.undocs.org/en/a/conf.229/2017/L.3/Rev.1

The conference may be followed on the conference website: https://www.un.org/disarmament/ptnw/

Voting Results: https://s3.amazonaws.com/unoda-web/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/A.Conf_.229.2017.L.3.Rev_.1.pdf

Pictures from the conference: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lucaswirl/albums/72157685879330596

In the following discussion (which is still on) delegates express the urgency of putting the treaty into force and achieve nuclear weapons abolition. Many states highlight the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and the crime against humanity of nuclear weapons.

A more extensive report will follow.

ICAN: Final Treaty – Content and Impact

What the Treaty Does

Comprehensively bans nuclear weapons and related activity. It will be illegal for parties to undertake any activities related to nuclear weapons. It bans the use, development, testing, production, manufacturing, acquiring, possession, stockpiling, transferring, receiving, threatening to use, stationing, installation, or deploying of nuclear weapons.  [Article 1]

Bans any assistance with prohibited acts. The treaty bans assistance with prohibited acts, and should be interpreted as prohibiting states from engaging in military preparations and planning to use nuclear weapons, financing their development and manufacture, or permitting the transit of them through territorial waters or airspace. [Article 1]

Creates a path for nuclear states which join to eliminate weapons, stockpiles, and programs. It requires states with nuclear weapons that join the treaty to remove them from operational status and destroy them and their programs, all according to plans they would submit for approval. It also requires states which have other country’s weapons on their territory to have them removed. [Article 4]

Verifies and safeguards that states meet their obligations. The treaty requires a verifiable, time-bound, transparent, and irreversible destruction of nuclear weapons and programs and requires the maintenance and/or implementation of international safeguards agreements. The treaty permits safeguards to become stronger over time and prohibits weakening of the safeguard regime. [Articles 3 and 4]

Requires victim and international assistance and environmental remediation. The treaty requires states to assist victims of nuclear weapons use and testing, and requires environmental remediation of contaminated areas. The treaty also obliges states to provide international assistance to support the implementation of the treaty. The text requires states to join the Treaty, and to encourage others to join, as well as to meet regularly to review progress. [Articles 6, 7, and 8]

Next Steps

Adoption. The treaty is scheduled to be adopted on the morning of Friday 7 July.

Opening for signature. The treaty will be open for signature on 20 September at the United Nations in New York. [Article 13]

Entry into force. Fifty states are required to ratify the treaty for it to enter into force.  At a national level, the process of ratification varies, but usually requires parliamentary approval and the development of national legislation to turn prohibitions into national legislation. This process is also an opportunity to elaborate additional measures, such as prohibiting the financing of nuclear weapons. [Article 15]

First meeting of States Parties. The first Meeting of States Parties will take place within a year after the entry into force of the Convention. [Article 8]

Significance and Impact of the Treaty

Delegitimizes nuclear weapons. This treaty is a clear indication that the majority of the world no longer accepts nuclear weapons and do not consider them legitimate weapons, creating the foundation of a new norm of international behaviour.

Changes party and non-party behaviour. As has been true with previous weapon prohibition treaties, changing international norms leads to concrete changes in policies and behaviours, even in states not party to the treaty. This is true for treaties ranging from those banning cluster munitions and land mines to the Convention on the law of the sea. The prohibition on assistance will play a significant role in changing behaviour given the impact it may have on financing and military planning and preparation for their use.

Completes the prohibitions on weapons of mass destruction. The treaty completes work begun in the 1970s, when Chemical weapons were banned, and the 1990s when biological weapons were banned.

Strengthens International Humanitarian Law (“Laws of War”). Nuclear weapons are intended to kill millions of civilians – non-combatants – a gross violation of International Humanitarian Law. Few would argue that the mass slaughter of civilians is acceptable and there is no way to use a nuclear weapon in line with international law. The treaty strengthens these bodies of law and norm.

Remove the prestige associated with proliferation. Countries often seek nuclear weapons for the prestige of being seen as part of an important club. By more clearly making nuclear weapons an object of scorn rather than achievement, their spread can be deterred.

Download the article here

Joseph Gerson Reports on IPB Ban Treaty Side Event

Friends,

I am ostensibly on vacation, but I am en route home after a quick trip to New York City where I chaired I side event at the U.N. on the impacts of the Ban Treaty. That is to say how our movements can build on the treaty whose text will be completed Friday. Continue reading “Joseph Gerson Reports on IPB Ban Treaty Side Event”

UNI Global Union statement to the UN conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons (ban treaty), leading to their elimination.

  • UNI Global Union welcomes the draft for the ban treaty
  • It is a historical declaration on the way to a nuclear weapon free world

As the General Secretary of UNI Global Union which represents 20 million members in the service sectors worldwide, I urge all governments to work towards creating a credible and effective treaty which will lead to a world free from nuclear weapons.

Continue reading “UNI Global Union statement to the UN conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons (ban treaty), leading to their elimination.”

IPB Video of the Office in Geneva

The IPB’s office at the Rue de Zürich in Geneva closed on June 30th. We first moved there in 1964! Check out the video – a tour through the office. Many of you will remember.

The Coordinating office is now in Berlin and the Global Campaign on Military Spending is run from Barcelona.
IPB will maintain a presence in Geneva.

 

Report on the second week at the UN negotiations to prohibit nuclear weapons

New York 26-30 June 2017

The second week of the negotiations for a Treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons started with the publication on June 27th of the second draft of the Treaty (now called a “Treaty” and no more a “Convention”.) The 130 states in the room are now actively negotiating long hours in small or big committees in order to keep open the possibility to finalize a good text by June 7th. Continue reading “Report on the second week at the UN negotiations to prohibit nuclear weapons”

Sergio Duarte on the UN negotiations for a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons leading to their total elimination

At an IPB side event on “How to find common ground for the ban treaty and how can civil society and peace movements contribute” at the UN negotiations for a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons, former UN High Level Representative for Disarmament, Sergio Duarte presented the following speech:

I am grateful to IPB for this opportunity to participate in this discussion on the current negotiation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. I was asked to present a global view on the process and compare it with other disarmament processes. Given the constraints of time, let me make some quick comments on the results so far of the current negotiation process. There seems to be considerable convergence of views on many aspects of the future instrument.

I think it is fair to say that overall the conduct of business by President Elayne Whyte-Gómez has been quite satisfactory. The debate over the past week has been intense and constructive. The resulting second draft circulated yesterday seems to reflect accurately most of the proposals and observations made. I would make the following general remarks on the new draft:

  • The change of the order of the first few paragraphs of the Preamble gave prominence to the “elimination” of nuclear weapons and to the risks and consequences resulting from their existence and use. In mentioning the ethical imperative of nuclear disarmament, it quotes former UNSG Ban Ki-Moon about the “global public good” and adequately related it to “national and collective security interests”. All States are entitled to security, not just those that possess or are protected by nuclear weapons.
  • Stress was given to the suffering and harm resulting from the use and to the impact of tests (nuclear activities) on indigenous peoples;
  • The need to comply with the principles and rules of IHL is reaffirmed;
  • Mentions the principles of Charter of the UN regarding relations among States and recalls Resolution no. 1 of 1946;
  • Expresses concern about the slow pace of nuclear disarmament and the importance of a legally binding prohibition, as well as the need to achieve GCD;
  • Reaffirms the ICJ 1996 decision on the obligation to pursue negotiations;
  • Reaffirms the vital role of implementation of the NTP, recognizes the vital importance of the CTBT and the contribution of NWFZs;
  • Emphasizes the inalienable right of Parties to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes;
  • Recognizes the need to strengthen participation of women in nuclear disarmament;
  • Finally stresses the role of public conscience and the efforts of the Red Cross, international organizations, NGOs in furthering the principles of humanity evidenced in the call for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

There were constructive changes, but some of the operative paragraphs need further discussion.

  • Core prohibitions are very clear and unchanged from the previous daft;
  • The procedure for declarations by Parties are now clearer. The same can be said of the measures to eliminate nuclear weapons. Need to clarify some points, for example what “programmes” mean in this context);
  • There is more flexibility in the provisions regarding verification. (Perhaps greater clarity about the “competent international authority” is required);
  • Order of the articles on implementation and victim assistance reversed, without change;
  • No change in provisions on cooperation;
  • Article on meetings of States parties now list the matters that can be considered;
  • Several changes on articles on amendments; participation of civil society and their proposals are now included;
  • The article on relations with other agreements is better formulated now.

This brings me to the comparison with other disarmament processes. It must be stressed that no previous international agreement on nuclear weapons ever established a clear, legally binding obligation to disarm. Since the start of the nuclear age, all agreements have aimed at preventing proliferation. Progress was made in that direction, particularly with the NPT, the CTBT and the NWFZs.  Nuclear weapon States have been trying to interpret such agreements as legitimizing their exclusive possession of nuclear weapons. 71 years after the adoption of Resolution No. 1, the current negotiation, however, is the first serious attempt to establish a legally binding, irreversible and verified obligation to take effective measures to eliminate nuclear weapons. The NPT and customary international law require all nations – not just those that possess nuclear weapons – to negotiate for nuclear disarmament. The ban treaty will provide a solid foundation for future multilateral action.

I am sure that in the coming week there will be important comments and proposals and that different States and opinion groups will try to have their views reflected in the final product. In my view this final product must respond to the criteria needed for its effectiveness: it must be clear, simple, and provide for wide inclusiveness.

Regardless of the opposition and diffidence of the nuclear-armed nations, and although, as I said, further discussion is needed on some points, I have no doubt that we will adopt a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons by consensus on July 7.  We are perfectly aware that this Treaty will not immediately halt nuclear weapons development or diminish the threat that current nuclear weapon arsenals pose to all humanity but it is an important step in the right direction. It inscribes into positive international law a repudiation of nuclear weapons and establishes a clear path toward their elimination.

Once adopted, the impact and effectiveness of this Treaty will depend essentially from its wide acceptance by States and the continuing and active support of civil society, particularly in those States that possess nuclear weapons and their allies. This will take time and considerable effort. In any case, the Treaty is a powerful statement of the will of the majority international community and public opinion worldwide to outlaw the most cruel and indiscriminate weapon of mass destruction ever devised. We are all committed to its success and its universalization.

Download the speech here: IPB – Side event 28-06-2017_Sergio Duarte

To all Lawyers: Sign the letter on the abolition of nuclear weapons

The IALANA (International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms) wants to draw attention to the second round of the discussions on a nuclear weapons ban treaty in New York. The aim is to have a letter signed by lawyers that stresses the importance of such ban and urges states to participate and sign the treaty. The letter can be found and signed https://www.ialana.info/lawyers-letter/

LAWYERS’ LETTER ON THE ABOLITION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Nuclear arms are the only weapons of mass effect and destruction not yet prohibited by an international convention, even though they are the most destructive and indiscriminate weapons ever created.

People are capable of good-faith, law-guided, problem solving at all levels of society: family, neighborhood, national, international. Cooperative global systems have been devised for the protection of human rights, protection of the environment and prevention of climate change, prohibition of specific weapons, and more. These skills must now be applied to the next obvious step: the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.

As lawyers we underline that the abolition of nuclear arms is required by an international legal obligation set forth in Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and embedded in United Nations practice going back to the very first General Assembly resolution, in 1946. The International Court of Justice unanimously concluded in 1996 that “there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.” That obligation is unconditional and universal.

We also emphasize that the use of nuclear weapons is presently incompatible with international humanitarian law regulating the conduct of warfare. Above all, due to their uncontrollable blast, heat, fire, and radiation effects, nuclear weapons cannot meet the requirement of distinguishing between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives. Indeed, the catastrophic consequences of use of nuclear weapons vastly exceed the ordinary boundaries of armed conflict and adversely impact populations in neutral states, the natural environment necessary to sustain human life, and future generations. The use of nuclear weapons accordingly also violates international human rights law, most centrally the right to life. If a use of force is illegal under the UN Charter or humanitarian law, the threat to use such force is also illegal. However, the nuclear-armed states refuse to acknowledge these patent legal truths; hence the need to codify the illegality of use and threatened use of nuclear arms in a global prohibition.

The Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists, including Albert Einstein, warned in 1947: “Through the release of atomic energy, our generation has brought into the world the most revolutionary force since prehistoric man’s discovery of fire. This basic power of the universe cannot be fitted into the outmoded concept of narrow nationalisms.” Yet today we face this incendiary combination once again.

Faced with the ongoing and intensifying planetary danger and no longer willing to accept a two-tier world, this year about 130 countries have joined together at the United Nations to negotiate a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading to their elimination. The nuclear-armed states and their closest allies have refused to participate. Nonetheless, the nuclear ban treaty effort constitutes an important affirmation of the norms against nuclear weapons.

We call on all nations to participate in the negotiations and to join the treaty once adopted. It will be a major step towards negotiation of a comprehensive agreement on the achievement and permanent maintenance of a world free of nuclear arms.

 

Further Impressions from the Ban Treaty Negotiations

Read the impressions from Alimzhan Akhmetov (Director of the Center for International Security and Policy, Kazakhstan) of the second negotiation round on a nuclear weapons ban treaty.

Red Flag from Nuclear Powers

We should give nuclear powers their due. They conducted a targeted work to reduce the number of States participating in the second session of the Conference to prohibit nuclear weapons, which started on June 15 in New York and will last three weeks, until July 7. […] Read the whole article here.

Positive obligations

June 20 this year in New York a major discussion of the States parties to the Conference on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, like the close attention of civil society, was brought about by Article 6 of the draft Convention. […] Read the whole article here.

Dance around the “transit

During the negotiations on the draft Convention on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, an interesting discussion of the States unfolded around the provision prohibiting the transit of nuclear weapons. […] Read the whole article here.

The Shining Star

A month passed, as the President of the Conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination, the Costa Rican Ambassador Elaine White presented the draft Convention on the prohibition of nuclear weapons […] Read the whole article here.

Report – 2nd Negotiations Round on a Nulcear Weapons Ban Treaty

After the successful session in March 2017 and the publication of the draft of the Convention to prohibit nuclear weapons by the Chair Ambassador Elayne Whyte from Costa Rica, the Second round of negotiations on a Convention started on June 15th.

The sprit of the 125+ participating countries is productive and dynamic and no major disagreements have been stopping the hard works of the participants from going forward. Nuclear weapons States possessors and their allies, the countries who rely on nuclear weapons in their security doctrines, have chosen to boycott the process, except the Netherlands. Continue reading “Report – 2nd Negotiations Round on a Nulcear Weapons Ban Treaty”