2017 World Conference against A and H Bombs, Nagasaki – Closing Plenary

Lisa Clark
Co-President, International Peace Bureau

OHAYO GOZAIMASU

This was my first time at the World Conference. Let me thank Gensuikyo for having allowed me to enjoy this extraordinary experience. The International Peace Bureau (IPB) is dedicated to the vision of a world without war.

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The Nuclear Ban Treaty

John Burroughs
Lawyers Commitee on Nuclear Policy

 
Amb. Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko of South Africa, which played an important role in the negotiations.UN Webcast, March 28, 2017.
Approved on July 7 by a vote of 122 to 1 (Netherlands, the only NATO state to participate), with one abstention (Singapore), the nuclear ban treaty will open for signature on September 20 at the United Nations and will enter into force when 50 states have signed and ratified it.

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Key Issues in Negotiations for a Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty

By John Burroughs
Arms Control Today, June 2017

The outlines of a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading to their total elimination, emerged in late March during the first week of negotiations among diplomats representing about 130 governments. During a second session, to take place from June 15 to July 7 at the United Nations, a text will be negotiated, based on the May 22 draft by the president of the negotiating conference, Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez of Costa Rica. She aims for conference approval of a text by the end of that session.

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G20 in Hamburg – pathetic

One day after and some rest one may finally ask the question what did the summit achieve for whom politically?

This is the attempt approaching the reality of the G20 summit. It will name the deeply undemocratic and aggressive behavior of the police, the impressive and courageous protest, and the outstanding demonstration of the 76,000 as well as the condemnable actions of the criminal mob. We will learn how many provocateurs were involved. An independent commission is highly needed. Continue reading “G20 in Hamburg – pathetic”

CISP Kazakhstan: The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

On July 7, 2017 the text of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was approved at the UN Headquarters in New York City during the final session of negotiations on the development of a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination  (hereinafter – the Conference, negotiations).Despite the efforts of the President of the Conference and States parties to reach a consensus, the Treaty was put on voting. Of the 137 states, 122 voted in favor, 1 against (the Netherlands), and 1 abstained (Singapore). 13 states did not take part in the voting (Andorra, Armenia, Barbados, Cameroon, Guinea, Libya, Monaco, Nauru, Nicaragua, Swaziland, Syria, Macedonia, Zambia).The treaty will be opened for signature on September 20, 2017 within the framework of the High-level Segment of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly in New York and will come into force after its ratification by 50 states.

The NPT and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

There is a different understanding among the UN member states of the interface between the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).The nuclear powers and their allies are convinced that the torpedoing (in their opinion) of negotiations on the prohibition of nuclear weapons is premature, will damage the NPT and, as a consequence, the existing architecture of international security (strategic stability, nuclear deterrence, the principle of undiminished security).So, on March 27, 2017 in New York on the day of the beginning of negotiations, 21 states headed by the United States, Great Britain and France issued a statement to the press against the holding of negotiations.The Russian Federation during the first meeting of the Preparatory Committee of the NPT Review Conference of 2020 in May this year in Vienna stated that: “…this is an erroneous path fraught with unforeseen consequences, including for the NPT. We call on all to remember in New York about responsibility for the NPT and not to prejudice the NPT“. Supporters of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons are convinced that it will not create any legal conflicts with the NPT.On the contrary, the development of the Treaty is aimed at strengthening and developing Article VI of the NPT, according to which the participating States pledged to “… to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament…”.In this regard, the course of discussion at the Conference of Article 18 of the Treaty “Relationship with other agreements” is indicative: «The implementation of this Treaty shall not prejudice obligations undertaken by States Parties with regard to existing international agreements, to which they are party, where those obligations are consistent with the Treaty».Switzerland, Sweden, Singapore, Austria and the Netherlands actively promoted the thesis on the need to exclude the last 8 words of the article “…where those obligations are consistent with the Treaty“. This, in fact, would put the new Treaty in a subordinate position to the NPT and would preserve the right of the “nuclear five” to own nuclear weapons.Subsequently, as it’s known, the Netherlands demanded a vote and voted “against” the new Treaty, while Singapore “abstained“.It is necessary to pay attention to the rather restrained attitude of the UN Secretariat to the new Treaty. Thus, during the speech of the United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu at the closing of the Conference on July 7, 2017, she stressed that “the NPT must remain the cornerstone of the global nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament regime“.

Structure of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

Iran is the only state among the negotiators who, from the very beginning of the negotiation process, insistently called for the harmonization of the most concise document, the main focus of which will be the legal prohibition on nuclear weapons and the elimination of a legal gap in this area.In March 2017, during the first session of the Conference, Iran drew attention to the fact that “IAEA is the main verification organization. We seriously doubt that the IAEA will be able to play this role, since the IAEA Board of Governors includes, in the main, states that are not present at this Conference“.Ideally, the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons had to be carried out in two stages:- comprehensive prohibition of nuclear weapons (Treaty);- elimination of nuclear weapons, timing and verification mechanisms, as well as the establishment of a specialized Agency for these purposes (Convention).The task of the Treaty was to secure the “point of no return” – the signing and entry into force of the first ever international treaty on the legal prohibition of nuclear weapons.The desire of the states to quickly cover the provisions on the elimination of nuclear weapons in one Treaty, in the future may prejudice the nuclear disarmament process and discredit the competence of the states parties to the Conference.

Preamble

Unfortunately, the negotiating states very easily agreed not to include the following provisions in the preamble of the Treaty:- advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice of 8 July, 1996;- Final document of the tenth special session of the General Assembly, of 30 June 1978;

– conferences held on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons;

– conventions on the prohibition of biological (1972) and chemical (1993) weapons.

Earlier, New Zealand at the first session of negotiations in March 2017 rightly noted that “it is necessary to show the path passed by the world community since 1946“.

Prohibitions (Article 1)

The negotiating States parties could not agree on the inclusion of the following prohibitions:- military or other preparations for the use of nuclear weapons;- financing of research in the field of nuclear weapons;- transit of nuclear weapons.It should be noted that the states had to make enormous efforts to include a prohibition on the threat of use of nuclear weapons. Only after Iran’s detailed statement with an overview of the prohibitions on the threat of force in international law did the President of the Conference have to include this provision in the draft Treaty.At the same time, the efforts made by the majority states could not overcome the objection of the minority, in particular, Austria and Singapore, to the inclusion of a prohibition on the transit of nuclear weapons.

Verification of nuclear disarmament (Articles 2-4)

These articles are the “Achilles’ heel” of the Treaty.The following questions arise at the first reading.1. How will the nuclear-weapon States that have signed or acceded to the Treaty agree and can independently adopt a legally-binding plan for the elimination of nuclear weapons?2. The timeframe for a plan for the elimination of nuclear weapons will be interpreted by each state in its own way, which will inevitably cause a different speed of fulfillment of its obligations. This, as a result, will lead to mutual distrust and make it impossible for each state to implement these plans independently. Obviously, this should be a single unified transparent plan for the elimination of nuclear weapons, as approved in the text of the Treaty itself (or in the Comprehensive Convention on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons).3. Definition of the competent international authority (art. 4, para 6): will it be the establishment of a new international authority or the granting of new powers to the operating organization? If the decision is made to empower the existing organization, it will be necessary to make appropriate changes to the Charter, their entry into force, and other organizational issues.In this context, a striking example is the amendment to Article VI of the IAEA Statute adopted in 1999, which increases the number of members of the IAEA Board of Governors from 35 to 43 states. The entry into force of this amendment is not visible in the foreseeable future.Thus, there is a high probability that the requirements of the Treaty on the approval of plans with a time-bound framework for the destruction of nuclear weapons at the national level and the need to determine a competent international authority will lead to an endless prolongation of the implementation of these provisions and make it impossible to implement the Treaty even if nuclear powers accede to the Treaty.The desire of States to take into account, in one document, both the issues of the prohibition on nuclear weapons and their elimination, inevitably led to a weakening of the text of the Treaty.It should be noted that the 2007 Model Nuclear Weapons Convention specifies in sufficient detail what should be reflected in the Declaration of the State, consisting of four parts: nuclear weapons; nuclear material; nuclear facilities and installations; means of delivery.The Model Convention also sets out in detail 5 stages of the elimination of nuclear weapons with a clear time-frame for all nuclear-weapon States.

What’s next?

From September 20, 2017, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will be opened for signature and will enter into force, sooner or later.After persistent calls for nuclear states to accede to the Treaty, the latter will provide an analysis showing that the Treaty, from a practical point of view, is not being implemented and requires significant changes and additions.Over time, it becomes clear that it is necessary to develop and adopt a Comprehensive Convention on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, which will clearly and unambiguously describe the mechanisms for the elimination of nuclear weapons, the establishment for this purpose of a specialized agency and other issues.However, articles 2-4 of the already approved text of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will interfere with its adoption.This can further delay the process of nuclear disarmament.

***

Despite all of the above, the fact of approving the text of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is a historic event in the sphere of nuclear disarmament, and the date, July 7, 2017, will forever be included in the textbooks on disarmament and international security.Already in the very near future – the Conference on Disarmament, the IAEA General Conference, the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, the preparatory committees of the NPT Review Conference – the new Treaty will have a direct impact on the nature of their work and the documents.

Alimzhan Akhmetov
Director of the Center for International Security and Policy, Kazakhstan

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.

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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.

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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.