Need for World Free of Nuclear Weapons More Urgent than Ever, Top United Nations Disarmament Official Tells Delegates Negotiating Legally Binding Instrument

Need for Progress Clear, She Stresses as Conference President Recalls ‘Robust and Constructive’ First Session in March

The pursuit of a world free of nuclear weapons was becoming more urgent than ever before, particularly in the midst of a deteriorating international security landscape, the senior-most United Nations disarmament official said today.

Izumi Nakamitsu, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, was opening the resumed session of the Conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons and lead towards their total elimination. Expected to run for three weeks, the Conference aims to conclude negotiations by producing an outcome document on 7 July.

Describing the current negotiations as truly historic, Ms. Nakamitsu said the deliberations represented the longest-sought objective of the United Nations � a world free of nuclear weapons. The need for progress is clear, she continued, expressing concern that 20 years had elapsed since the Organization’s disarmament bodies had produced a multilateral legally binding instrument on nuclear weapons.

She went on to note that promising multilateral initiatives remained blocked and there seemed to be no near-term prospects for further arms reductions. Indeed, a number of countries had been actively improving and modernizing their nuclear arsenals while others questioned the very need to pursue nuclear disarmament with security tensions increasing around the world.

The international community had long recognized the need for systematic measures and steps to facilitate the elimination of nuclear weapons, she continued, expressing hope that negotiations would result in an instrument that would build the bridge to a future in which the total elimination of nuclear weapons would be possible. It was critical that the final instrument be legally sound, technically accurate and politically wise, she emphasized.

Conference President Whyte Gomez (Costa Rica) described discussions held during the first session of the Conference in March as robust and constructive, saying the exchange of views had covered all aspects of the legally binding instrument, including its principles and objectives, preamble, core prohibitions and other provisions. All those aspects were reflected in the draft Convention being presented today, she added.

Noting that the draft incorporated elements that built upon points of convergence in order to preserve the previous session’s constructive and collaborative spirit, she said several parts of the text had been included in order to draw attention to important questions that the Conference had yet to consider. The draft was not exhaustive on all the issues discussed in March, she said, adding that further discussions � including talks among technical and legal experts � were needed on a number of important issues.

Emphasizing the strong desire of many delegations to avoid a protracted general exchange of views, she said the Conference would proceed immediately to a detailed discussion of the draft text, including a read-through of each of its clusters. Noting that the draft was intended to serve as a starting point for negotiations, she said it proposed specific language based on the general remarks and positions expressed by delegations during the March session.

She outlined the proposed procedure for the meeting’s consideration of the draft, saying she would open the floor to any delegation wishing to deliver general comments as the Conference considered each cluster. The Conference would then proceed to consider each article in the draft, during which time the President would provide explanatory remarks intended to orient the discussion. Following each presentation, the President would open the floor for an interactive exchange of views on the particular article, paragraph or sub-paragraph in question.

Before the Conference took up the draft preamble, several delegates shared their concerns and suggestions, with Liechtenstein’s representative emphasizing the need for a more streamlined and focused preamble.

Iran’s representative stressed the importance of using appropriate language, saying that variations may be welcome, but changing the meaning of words was not.

Cuba’s representative welcomed the text as simple, reasonable and pragmatic, but noted that various sections could be strengthened.

South Africa’s representative, meanwhile, emphasized the importance of delegitimizing and stigmatizing the use of nuclear weapons. He also underlined that no additional obligations � particularly prohibitions against the development and use of nuclear energy � must be imposed on non-nuclear-weapon States.

The representative of the Netherlands said the convention must be compatible with his country’s obligations as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The text required improvement and alteration, and should be clearer about its goals and purposes, he added.

Egypt’s representative said the draft must not create unnecessary additional commitments that would create duality, or unnecessary provisions that would create separate groupings of States.

Iran’s representative said the prohibition instrument should neither undermine nor replicate the provisions of existing legal instruments, emphasizing that building upon existing conventions and treaties would prevent redundancy and legal confusion.

Among the language negotiated today were paragraphs focusing on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear-weapons use, the necessity of achieving complete nuclear disarmament, and the particular vulnerability of women and girls.

At the outset, the Conference took note of the revised indicative timetable for the meeting (document A/CONF.229/2017/3/Add.1/Rev.1), and of the draft Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (document A/CONF.229/2017/CRP.1).

Others participating in today’s discussion were representatives of Brazil, Austria, Thailand (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations(ASEAN)), Ireland, Philippines (also on behalf of ASEAN), Malaysia, Nigeria, Mexico, New Zealand, Switzerland, Mozambique, Bangladesh, Ecuador, Marshall Islands, Sweden, Venezuela, Singapore, Ghana, Costa Rica, Chile (on behalf of several States), Argentina and Guatemala.

Also taking part were the observer for the State of Palestine, as well as representatives of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bombs Sufferers’ Organizations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The Conference will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 16 June, to resume its read-through of the draft instrument.

Source: United Nations

Read More >Need for World Free of Nuclear Weapons More Urgent than Ever, Top United Nations Disarmament Official Tells Delegates Negotiating Legally Binding Instrument

Obligations of States Parties Should Include Destroying Existing Nuclear Arsenals, Speakers Say, as Talks on Legally Binding Instrument Continue

Speakers voiced support for the requirement that all States parties destroy their existing nuclear arsenals, as the Conference convening to codify a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons and lead towards their total elimination entered its second day.

During a discussion on the general obligations section of the draft Convention (document A/CONF.229/2017/CRP.1) � which many speakers described as the document’s core � delegates considered the obligations to be borne by States parties, including pledges never to develop or produce such weapons or assist others attempting to do so.

The draft document lists prohibited activities related to the development, production, manufacture, acquisition, possession and stockpiling of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.

Cuba’s representative, noting that the Convention’s current wording remained incomplete and insufficient, said the full prohibition of nuclear weapons also required a ban on their design and research. Thailand’s representative, stressing that those prohibition lines must refer not only to States parties but also to any person or entity, also underlined the need to include a reference to the threat of use in the text’s general obligations � a sentiment echoed by a number of other speakers.

Austria’s representative, meanwhile, said his delegation was mainly concerned about whether the Convention could be implemented and verified. It would be better to follow the usual terms employed in similar treaties, including in the area of financing, he said, stressing: It has to be implementable.

In her introduction of that section � contained in Article 1 of the draft text � Conference President Whyte Gomez (Costa Rica) recalled that many of the aspirations outlined by delegates during the meeting’s previous session, in March, had also centred on ensuring that the Convention could one day be universally accepted.

Prior to that discussion, participants concluded their first reading of the draft Convention’s preamble, considering references to such issues as the 1996 International Court of Justice advisory opinion on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons and the delegitimization of the nuclear deterrence doctrine.

The representative of the Netherlands expressed concern that the preamble in its current form lacked any reference to international peace and security, which he described as a critical element. Algeria’s representative � along with the representatives of Brazil and Venezuela, among others � called for the inclusion of a paragraph highlighting the peaceful use of nuclear energy, which he called a sovereign and inalienable right of all States.

Switzerland’s representative emphasized that the text should in no way restrict States’ rights to trade, research and military cooperation. Cuba’s representative, meanwhile, proposed the insertion of new language underscoring the importance of respecting international environmental agreements, including relevant General Assembly resolutions.

A number of civil society representatives � including survivors of nuclear weapons testing � voiced support for the inclusion of language recognizing the disproportionate impact that nuclear weapons testing had historically had on indigenous peoples around the world. The representative of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, recalling that her father had been blinded by the United Kingdom’s nuclear tests conducted in the Outback of South Australia in 1953, emphasized that the emotional, physical and mental suffering inflicted by nuclear weapons’ testing affected generations of survivors.

The representative of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons echoed those concerns, also calling for the inclusion of specific language requiring the reallocation of resources currently supporting the maintenance and modernization of nuclear arsenals to environmental and humanitarian purposes. Nuclear weapons have no legitimate purpose whatsoever, she stressed.

Also participating in today’s discussions were representatives of the Philippines, Egypt, Mozambique, Indonesia, New Zealand, Lichtenstein, Ecuador, Sweden, Iran, Mexico, Fiji, Ireland, Peru, Chile, Ghana, South Africa, Argentina, Guatemala, Singapore, Kazakhstan, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Fiji, Uganda, Costa Rica, Viet Nam and Bangladesh.

The observers for the State of Palestine and the Holy See also took the floor, as did representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Western States Legal Foundation, the World Council of Churches, Soka Gakkai International and the Global Security Institute.

Source: United Nations

Read More >Obligations of States Parties Should Include Destroying Existing Nuclear Arsenals, Speakers Say, as Talks on Legally Binding Instrument Continue