The first negotiating session of the UN Conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons will take place at the United Nations in New York on March 27.
In December 2016, the UN General Assembly decided – by a vote of 113 in favour, 35 against and 13 abstaining – to commence negotiations on a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons, regardless of whether or not the nuclear-armed and allied states join such a treaty.
Impact of the treaty on nuclear-armed and allied States
Even if no nuclear-armed or allied States join the nuclear prohibition treaty, it could impact on their policies and practices.
The treaty could, for example, affirm that the use and threat of use of nuclear weapons are already illegal under existing international law, including international humanitarian law and the UN Charter. This would increase the legal and political pressure on nuclear armed and allied States to phase out nuclear deterrence and join subsequent negotiations for the elimination of nuclear weapons.
The treaty could also prohibit the financing of nuclear weapons, including by banks and public funds, in the States signing the treaty. This follows a similar practice of governments divesting from corporations making landmines and cluster munitions following the adoption of treaties prohibiting these weapons.
Such action could hit at the heart of one of the most powerful drivers of the nuclear arms race – the nuclear weapons corporations which are making billions of dollars from producing the weapons, and have a vested interest in keeping the arms race going.
UNFOLD ZERO has joined with Basel Peace Office and Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament, in submitting a working paper to the UN negotiating conference calling for the treaty to include such a prohibition, providing details about how such a prohibition could work, and giving examples of countries that have already divested their public funds from nuclear weapons corporations.
UNFOLD ZERO and PNND hold a consultation in Washington DC with disarmament experts on the nuclear prohibition treaty, nuclear arms control between US and Russia, and the 2018 UN High Level Conference.
UNFOLD ZERO consultations in UN centres and key capitals
From January to March 2017, UNFOLD ZERO and PNND organised a series of consultation meetings with disarmament experts and civil society representatives on the current nuclear disarmament climate, how to build success in the ban treaty negotiations and the 2018 UN High Level Conference, and how to build cooperation between civil society and parliamentarians.
Consultation events were organised in Berlin, Geneva, London, New York, Vienna, and Washington DC.
The outcomes of these events help UNFOLD ZERO and PNND feed into the UN negotiations and build support from parliaments and in inter-parliamentary forums including the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
UNFOLD ZERO at the March 6 ban treaty discussion in the Palais des Nations, Geneva, hosted by the government of Austria, Geneva Centre for Security Policy and the Geneva Disarmament Platform. [Photo: GCSP]
Geneva discussions on the ban treaty
A series of informal discussions amongst governments, disarmament experts and civil society organisations is being held at the Palais de Nations in Geneva in March, prior to the start of the UN negotiations in New York.
The discussions, which have been organised by the Geneva Centre for Security Policy and the Geneva Disarmament Platform, have focused on a number of critical issues for the negotiations, including provisions on cooperation and relations with nuclear-armed states outside the treaty, withdrawal provisions and provisions for nuclear-armed States to accede to the treaty.
UNFOLD ZERO has been participating in these discussions along with our partners Basel Peace Office, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament and the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms.E
The UNFOLD ZERO team