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23 May 2005, No. 16

Heigh-ho the dairy-o
Rhianna Tyson | WILPF


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In a race against time, dozens of more States took the floor of the Main Committees last week, while the Chairs scrambled to devise a plan for the formulation of their reports to the Drafting Committee, due this Wednesday.

Consultations continued throughout this past weekend. Ambassador Mólnár of Main Committee II, for instance, expressed his hope to have some sort of draft from which to base his report by the resumption of work on Monday.

With so little time left, the best tool for ensuring that each State’s concerns and priorities work their way into the draft text is repetition. Reiterating one’s position in statements, reports and working papers, as well as in the consultations with the Chair, adds political weight to that particular stance, especially if many others support it.

For language to make its way into a Final Document, however, it requires consensus. And, as the three-week-long battle over the agenda attests, consensus is a near impossible task in today’s polarized political climate.

Yet where exactly do the States stand on the issues? Is the difficulty of agreement due to an array of views, or is it simply a matter of one or two views, which remain too far apart from one another to meet on a middle road to agreement?

A quick snapshot of statements from Main Committee I illustrates the latter. There remains one solitary State whose policies and perspectives on disarmament just don’t match up with that of the majority:

On the CTBT: 
The US: “…the United States does not support the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and will not become a party to it.”
The EU: “ The EU reiterates that it attaches the utmost importance to the entry-into-force of the CTBT at the earliest possible date. We call upon all States who have not done so, and in particular those States named in the Annex II to the Treaty, whose ratification is required for entry-into-force, to sign and ratify the Treaty without delay and without conditions.”
Japan: “The CTBT is an historic milestone in the promotion of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation…Japan attaches great significance to the early entry-into-force of the CTBT. We must recall that the CTBT is an integral part of the 1995 package to allow the indefinite extension of the NPT and that the 2000 Final Document pointed out ‘the importance and urgency of signatures and ratifications.’”

On a Fissile Materials Treaty: 
US: “The United States supports the immediate commencement, in the Conference on Dist, of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty, without verification.” 
Australia: “Australia’s position is that, to be credible and effective, the FMCT should include appropriate measures to verify that parties are complying with their obligations.”

The relationship between disarmament and nonproliferation: 
US: “It is both logically and legally untenable for those who wish that nuclear disarmament were progressing at a faster rate to pretend that compliance with nonproliferation obligations is linked to compliance with disarmament obligations…”
South Korea: “Through substantial and unequivocal progress made on disarmament, we believe that nuclear-weapon States would enhance their moral authority with which to discourage the potential proliferators from seeking nuclear ambitions, by assuring them that the long-term goal of a world free of nuclear weapons is indeed seriously pursued and universally shared.”
Brazil: “Progress in nuclear disarmament is all the more important in a world in which non-state actors may seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Therefore our focus must be on systematic, continuous and progressive efforts to implement the obligation contained in Article VI.”

The US didn’t always stand quite so alone, nor was it always so hostile to the priorities and concerns of others. To completely reject, ignore or renege on promises made in the context of multilateralism is a new strategy for the global superpower, one which even some US officials view, as former Ambassador Robert Grey has, as “a radical departure from past American practice.”

Yet if the Review Conference is to produce some sort of politically-binding Final Document at the end of this week, one which would address all States parties concerns and needs thereby strengthening the regime as a whole, the Chairs- and indeed all States parties- will have to figure out just how to reign in this unruly big cheese. To do otherwise will serve to further weaken the NPT and compromise the security of us all.

For in a globalized world with globalized threats to its security- of which the scourge of nuclear weapons is paramount- nobody stands alone, not even the cheese.

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