States meet to discuss rules for nuclear ban negotiations
On 16 February, over 80 states attended the organisational meeting for the “United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”. It was an historic day, the first meeting to begin the negotiations of a treaty banning nuclear weapons. Ireland welcomed the “broad and brave participation” of states in the room. “Change only comes about when the status quo becomes less comfortable, when the discomfort of doing something new becomes less than keeping things the same,” noted Ireland, appealing to those not in the room to join the upcoming negotiations in the interest “of all of our humanity, all of our hopes, all of our security.”
The meeting was convened to discuss and where possible take decisions on key procedural issues for the conference. Most of the debate was taken up with discussion around non-governmental organisation (NGO) participation, as distinct from the rest of the rules of procedure, which will continue to be discussed. There was not progress on the composition of the bureau during the formal, open session, but other key decisions were made.