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”

To the Partners of the Making Peace Exhibition

Dear Sir/Madam,
dear colleagues,

IPB has managed to show the exhibition “Making Peace” throughout the world with great success.

You helped us in various ways to make this possible and we are deeply grateful for your assistance.

However, today we need to inform you that IPB has discontinued its partnership with Ashley Woods, since the conditions in our partnership agreement have not been fully respected. IPB is no longer connected to the Making Peace exhibition.

As you are a partner of this project, it is important to us to inform you of this sad, but inevitable, step we have had to take. It has not been easy for us to take this decision.

If you need more information, do not hesitate to contact us (by email or phone).

With Best Regards,

Reiner Braun, IPB Co-President
Lisa Clark, IPB Co-President
Lohes Rajeswaran, IPB Treasurer

Letter to Partners of Making Peace

Activity Report 2017

The year 2016 was an important one for IPB, for three reasons. It saw the sudden rise of new and dangerous forms of populism around the world; it was the year in which we held the Berlin Congress and elected a new leadership at the Triennial Assembly; and it marked the beginning of the transition towards a new, more decentralised IPB. As ever, the staff, elected officials and members were extremely busy promoting our peace agenda. In the Activity Report 2016 you can read some of the details and gain an insight into the workings of the organisation.

Statement by the Republic of Kazakhstan on the occasion of 2017 Global Day of Action on Military Spending

The world has entered a new and troubling era. Tensions and conflicts are increasing as are suspicions and competition between major powers. This, in turn, is leading to a new arms race and a greater use of force to defend national interests and expand spheres of influence.

Read the whole article at: http://mfa.gov.kz/index.php/en/last-news/8736-statement-by-the-republic-of-kazakhstan-on-the-occasion-of-2017-global-day-of-action-on-military-spending