Saturday, April 1, 2017

Hopes high for a nuclear weapons ban treaty after positive negotiations at UN

Following the first week of negotiations at the United Nations on a new international treaty to outlaw nuclear weapons, hopes are high among campaigners that the process will result in a positive outcome by the time they conclude later in the year. 

As ICAN Executive Director, Beatrice Fihn put it, "it felt like we made the transition from arguing that we need a ban treaty to actually banning nuclear weapons." With participation from over 130 states, as well as civil society organisations, the constructive atmosphere could be described by John Loretz of IPPNW as "one of the most productive, energized, and energizing exchanges most of us have ever experienced inside a UN conference room."
ICAN Executive Director, Beatrice Fihn, speaks to journalists during the ban treaty negotiations
Given that Ireland was one of the co-sponsors of the UN resolution establishing the negotiations, Ireland's diplomatic contributions during the first week were strongly supportive of a "robust treaty" and were warmly welcomed by campaigners. Helena Nolan, Director to Disarmament in the Department of Foreign Affairs, called for prohibitions on the "possession, use, development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention and transfer" of nuclear weapons. 

Among the contributions from civil society, a poignant highlight was the contribution of Hiroshima survivor Setsuko Thurlow, who spoke on behalf of ICAN on the second day of the talks. 
Setsuko Thurlow addresses the ban treaty negotiations
While the nuclear-armed states and some allies - mostly NATO members - boycotted the talks, participants stressed their determination to press forward to close the current legal gap by banning nuclear arms. A ban treaty will stigmatise nuclear weapons possession internationally by setting clearly-defined norms and discrediting the claims to prestige some states have attached to nuclear arms. 

Following decades of stalemate as the nuclear-armed states have blocked progress under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, this week's talks show non-nuclear-armed states and civil society reclaiming the initiative in setting the legal framework emphatically back in motion. As has been the case with other weapons of mass destruction, international prohibition offers a significant step towards elimination. 

The second phase of negotiations will begin in June, with the talks President, Ambassador Elayne Whyte of Costa Rica, expected to circulate a draft treaty before then. 

For more detailed information on the negotiations, see the website of Reaching Critical Will, which includes documentation and transcripts of many of the statements delivered by participation, as well as ICAN's dedicated nuclear ban treaty website, their blog of the week's events, and the IPPNW blog

No comments:

Post a Comment