UNFOLD ZERO Newsletter

Dear friends,
The first session of the UN conference to negotiate a nuclear weapons prohibition treaty was held last week at the UN in New York. One of the issues discussed was the proposal by UNFOLD ZERO and Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament (PNND) that the treaty prohibit any financing of nuclear weapons production.
It is said that ‘money makes the world go around’. With respect to nuclear weapons, the corporations manufacturing them are highly influential on nuclear weapons policy. Most of the global nuclear weapons budget of $100 billion goes to about a dozen powerful corporations who spend lavish amounts of money lobbying to keep the nuclear arms race going.
If the nuclear prohibition treaty includes a ban on investing in these corporations, it could put a big dent in their lobbying power, and give support to legislators and civil society in nuclear-armed States who are trying to cut nuclear weapons budgets.
Ambassador Elayne G Whyte Gómez (Costa Rica), as President of the UN Conference
A prohibition on nuclear weapons investments would be one of the few elements of a ban treaty that would have direct impact on the nuclear-armed States. As such, there was both interest and nervousness about this proposal amongst governments participating in the negotiations.
Those nervous about the possible repercussions of taking on the nuclear-armed States, can be reassured by the experiences of Lichtenstein, Norway and New Zealand who have already adopted policies of divestment by their public funds in nuclear weapons corporations. Lichtenstein mentioned this in their statement to the negotiations. Although these divestment measures were opposed by nuclear-armed States, in particular the US, they did not lead to any negative financial or political impact on these countries.

For more background on nuclear divestment see 'Move the nuclear weapons money, a handbook for civil society and legislators'.
Members of Abolition 2000, the global network to eliminate nuclear weapons, at a vigil outside the UN during the negotiations. Abolition 2000 invites nuclear abolition activists to its annual meeting in Vienna on May 1 to discuss global campaigns.

Should the ban treaty affirm that threat and use are already illegal?

Another key aspect of the negotiations was whether the illegality of the threat and use of nuclear weapons is already prohibited under international law. If so, the prohibition treaty should affirm this prohibition, and be framed as codifying and implementing it rather than creating it.

The International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Weapons submitted a working paper which argues that if the prohibition treaty affirms this, it would strengthen the norm against the use of nuclear weapons, delegitimise nuclear deterrence, and enhance the pressure on nuclear-armed States to move toward nuclear abolition. If the treaty does not affirm this prohibition, it would undermine current law and could imply that the prohibition of threat and use of nuclear weapons does not apply to States that do not join the negotiated treaty.  
There are different opinions amongst participating delegations on this issue, with a number of these opinions expressed in a side-event on March 29 (which can be viewed on UNTV). 

Statements and working papers to the conference can be accessed on the UN conference website.
Yours sincerely
Copyright © 2017 UNFOLD ZERO

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