UNFOLD ZERO Newsletter

Dear friends,
Deliberations of the United Nations Open Ended Working Group on Taking Forward Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations (OEWG) in Geneva from May 2-13 indicate that a group of non-nuclear countries appears ready to start negotiations to outlaw nuclear weapons.

Nine countries from nuclear-weapon-free zones (Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico and Zambia) submitted a proposal to the OEWG to ‘Convene a Conference in 2017, open to all States, international organizations and civil society, to negotiate a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons
Michael Moller, Director General of the UN in Geneva, speaking at the opening session of the OEWG
A number of other non-nuclear countries support the proposal, arguing that negotiations on such a treaty could begin even without the nuclear-armed countries and 'nuclear umbrella' countries (NATO, Japan, South Korea and Australia) - all of whom are are opposed.

However, other non-nuclear states are not supportive, arguing that if such a treaty did not include at least some of the nuclear-reliant states, it would have little or no impact on nuclear weapons policies and practices.

There are even fears that it could be counter-productive, taking pressure off the nuclear-reliant states to adopt interim steps toward nuclear abolition. Some have suggested that negotiations on a framework agreement for nuclear disarmament might be better.
Ambassador Lomonaco from Mexico, one of the cosponsors of the proposal to start negotiations in 2017 on a nuclear weapons prohibition treaty.

Framework Agreement – more inclusive, just as strong?

A framework agreement is a treaty in which broad commitments are agreed in the beginning, but detailed implementation provisions are left to further negotiations, according to an agreed follow-up process. A good example is the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Sweden suggested that a framework approach could bridge the divide between the two main groups of countries - those that call for prohibition first followed later by steps to eliminate the weapons, and those who call for disarmament steps first followed later by prohibition. Under a framework agreement various measures on prohibition and disarmament could be negotiated simultaneously with individual countries ratifying each measure according to the sequence that best suits them.

However, so far the discussions in the OEWG on a framework agreement have been inconclusive, with little indication of whether the nuclear-reliant states would indeed be ready to support it and commence negotiations in 2017.  

Building political will – nuclear disarmament summits

A number of countries and NGOs noted that without political will from nuclear-reliant states to join disarmament negotiations, none of the proposals would impact much on their nuclear policies and practices. As such, there were proposals to hold a series of Nuclear Disarmament Summits, similar to the successful Nuclear Security Summits, in order to enhance media and public attention and increase political pressure.

Where to from here?

The OEWG will hold its final session on August 16, 17 and 19. It will then adopt a report to present to the United Nations General Assembly. There is no consensus yet on what the OEWG will report on or recommend.
Yours sincerely
Copyright © 2016 UNFOLD ZERO

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