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).

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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.

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.”

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.

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