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A Pox on the House of Nuclear Weapons
In effect, the nuclear ban treaty will put a curse on nuclear weapons.By Russ Wellen, May 23, 2016
Earlier this month, a UN working group met in Geneva to discuss implementing the nuclear ban treaty. (Photo: RAF)
Do you long for the day when states in possession of nuclear weapons divest themselves of these nefarious instruments of the devil? You have no doubt grown tired of waiting for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty. Like movies bogged down in development, they are projects forever waiting to be greenlit.
When and if they are finally ratified, arms control treaties, like nonproliferation, are essentially mechanisms to reserve and preserve nuclear weapons for nuclear powers only. Even those in the arms control world with a soft spot for disarmament have given it up as unrealistic. But a growing movement is seeking to forge a treaty that sets the stage for disarmament. Counterintuitively, but, of necessity, the Humanitarian Initiative, or, as it’s more commonly known, the nuclear ban treaty, excludes the nuclear weapons states.
Its origins lie in the 2010 Review Conference for the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, at which the assembled states signed off on a statement reaffirming the catastrophic nature of nuclear war and calling on all states to comply with international humanitarian law by avoiding the use of nuclear weapons. The statement was expanded on in the 2012 and 2015 review conferences. Conferences specifically on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons were held in Oslo in 2013, and Nayarit (Mexico) and Vienna in 2014.
At Vienna, the Austrian Government actually pledged to cooperate with states, legislators, and organizations such as the International Red Cross and Red Crescent in the initiative to stigmatize nuclear weapons by declaring them illegal in hopes of ultimately eliminating them. 127 non-nuclear weapon states have endorsed the pledge.
The most recent meeting on the ban treaty was the United Nations General Assembly Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) held in Geneva earlier this month for eight days. Attendee Nick Ritchie of the University of York prepared a paper on the OEWG. He clarifies the point about proliferation which we made above.
As for “the delegitimation of nuclear weapons,” it:
In other words, “It shifts the centre of power in disarmament diplomacy away from the agency of nuclear-armed states, their relationships with each other, and their capacities to resist.” Instead,
In Reaching Critical Will’s newsletter, Mello explains how the treaty would work:
Mello sums up:
Ritchie, too, explains how simple a ban treaty can make the nuclear weapons question: