Rarely has a world conference been prepared with so little hope and empathy as this year’s Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Conference, which will begin in New York on August 1, 2022 for a period of four weeks.
Hopes for an outcome even remotely resembling an evaluation and implementation of the NPT are nil. Even an initiative for a ban on first use will not be successful, and there is no need to talk about arms control or even disarmament.
The conference will take place in the context of Russia’s war against Ukraine, which is contrary to international law, the recurring threat of a possible use of nuclear weapons, the comprehensive modernization of all nuclear weapons in all nuclear-weapon countries, the technological development of nuclear weapons into battlefield weapons (mini nukes) and, more generally, the aggressive geostrategic global confrontations.
Is it conceivable in the face of military and economic wars (both of which go far beyond the Ukraine conflict) that there will be serious negotiations on arms control, nuclear-weapon-free zones, and disarmament? Realistically, this is not the case.
The actors, especially from the Global South, who could push in the direction of negotiations, arms control and disarmament are unfortunately too politically weak, not coordinated enough, and also still without many of their own initiatives. First approaches, like participation within the context of the TPNW, are not yet a global, independently political role comparable to the role of the non-aligned states in the 60/70s. Only with this will for independence from the power centers and in connection with a world-wide civil society active for disarmament would a peace-oriented political alternative paragraph be at all conceivable.
Instead, we are confronted with the fact that the danger of nuclear war has never been so high and so threatening as it is now. The doomsday clock stands on 100 seconds to midnight and is only one pointed expression of the daily atomic madness – 100 seconds was before the Ukraine war!
The success of the nuclear weapons prohibition conference in Vienna in June, against the will of the nuclear weapon states and the nuclear sharing countries, shows only the beginnings for an alternative nuclear weapons disarmament policy. Yes, it is encouraging that the number of ratifying states is increasing, that the commitment of governments, parliaments and civil societies to the treaty is growing. The concretization of the treaty’s formulations and the emphasis on common ground for future action against the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons are certainly also worthy of mention. The political integration of the TPNW into the struggle for a policy of common security is certainly particularly gratifying.
All this, however, does not yet constitute a geopolitical course towards peace.
This strategic development of humanitarian engagement into an alternative political concept makes it clear that security today can only be achieved together. In this context, nuclear disarmament is a chain link for cooperative action. Only if the political confrontation between NATO and Russia or the U.S. and China is overcome will steps toward nuclear disarmament be possible again. Therefore, measures of dialogue and confidence building are also central to a policy whose long-term outcome is to be a world without nuclear weapons. This is even the officially declared goal of the NATO states. Cooperation is not only central to overcoming the dramatic threat of nuclear war, but is also an indispensable component if the climate catastrophe is still to be averted. At present we are heading with tremendous drama towards the double catastrophe – both nuclear and climatic.
To clarify these connections and to discuss the alternative of common security as a geostrategic alternative, peace groups like the international Peace and Planet network and the International Peace Bureau (IPB), in cooperation with the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation’s New York Office, are organizing the international conference on July 30th in New York on the theme of “geostrategic disorder”.
IPB is also represented at the NPT conference with two side events – one on nuclear weapons in Europe and the other on the technological challenges of a new arms race – to underline that the defense against the danger of nuclear war is a central challenge for the worldwide peace movement. This must be about more education and more action to stop the media and political course towards insane further high armament and war. A worldwide social and ecological as well as economic tsunami is the consequence if this policy – specifically, the nuclear armament policy of the P5 and other nuclear powers, including that of the NATO states – is not stopped.
The NPT conference can therefore perhaps help to put the much-needed global “coalition of reason” on the agenda.
– Reiner Braun, Executive Director of the IPB
Article written for Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung – New York Office
Berlin, Germany – July, 2022