Arms Trade Treaty prep work continues
The third preparatory committee (PrepCom) for the arms trade treaty (ATT) negotiating conference convened from 11 to 15 July 2011 in New York. The meeting focused primarily on implementation mechanisms and final provisions for the future treaty. Delegations representing a wide range of views articulated their vision of the treaty’s implementation, which rest largely on their wishes for its objectives.
The Chair’s latest draft paper, released on 14 July 2011, has been endorsed by many states as a good basis for beginning negotiations next year. But it has been rejected by some who view it as more of an “impractical” compendium of states’ views. The US, for instance, described the paper as proposing “additional burdens” but offering no utility to states. Arguing that the international community cannot “prevent arms transfers that result in human suffering or even eradicate illicit trafficking,” the US delegation said that negotiations would be “doomed to failure” if conducted on the basis of this text.
Yet there are still many, many countries willing to push for a robust treaty that actually makes a difference for victims of armed violence, development, human rights, and international peace and security. Australia’s delegation noted that no treaty can be perfect but argued that “we must be ambitious”. Costa Rica said the treaty “must reconcile aspiration and feasibility.” The idea that striving for the enhancement of human security through an arms trade treaty is “impractical” sells the international community short. It is this mentality that condemns us to failure, not the ambition of putting the lives of people above the treasure chest of the arms industry.
Looking ahead to next year’s negotiations on an ATT, it appears that reconciling the varying perspectives on the main objective of the treaty will largely guide the treaty’s content. It will be up to the majority of states—those that support a robust treaty that is designed to mitigate and prevent the negative humanitarian effects of the arms trade—to ensure that their perspective is preserved in the formulation of the treaty text.
The fourth PrepCom will be held in February/March 2012; it will focus primarily on organizational matters for the negotiating conference, scheduled to be held for one month in June/July 2012.
Reaching Critical Will and other NGOs were active in monitoring and analyzing the meeting as well as providing advocacy tools. Many of these materials, along with statements and other documents from the PrepCom, are available on the RCW website. NGOs provided a daily ATT Monitor in hardcopy and online in PDF, distributed for free throughout the duration of the PrepCom. They also maintained ablog by the same name.
Reaching Critical Will/WILPF materials and publications
Arms Trade Treaty Monitor: a daily PDF digest that provides reporting and analysis on the ATT preparatory committees by civil society activists and NGO representatives
Arms Trade Treaty Monitor: The Blog: an ongoing civil society blog about all things related to the ATT, including but not limited to the negotiating process
Beyond an ATT, Ray Acheson of Reaching Critical Will/WILPF, February 2011
The ATT, women, and gender, Emma Rosengren, WILPF Sweden, February 2011
The importance of treaty objectives for implementation, Ray Acheson of Reaching Critical Will/WILPF, July 2011
More debate on implementation, Ray Acheson of Reaching Critical Will/WILPF, July 2011
Brokering and implementation of the ATT, Ray Acheson of Reaching Critical Will/WILPF, July 2011
The feasibility of aspiration, Ray Acheson of Reaching Critical Will/WILPF, July 2011
UN General Assembly plenary on the Conference on Disarmament
On 9 May 2011, representatives from a variety of permanent missions to the UN in New York* requested that the President of the General Assembly convene a plenary debate under agenda item 162, entitled “Follow-up to the high-level meeting held on 24 September 2010: revitalizing the work of the Conference on Disarmament and taking forward multilateral disarmament negotiations” at the earliest possible date. The plenary is meant to focus states’ attention on the Conference on Disarmament (CD)’s ongoing stalemate and the need for action.
This plenary is scheduled to be held on 27 July 2011. Reaching Critical Will intends to monitor and report on the meeting through our regular CD Report service.
In addition, Reaching Critical Will and the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy drafted a paper in advance of the meeting, containing a proposal on how to revitalize multilateral disarmament negotiations.
Among other things, the paper calls on the UN General Assembly to establish open-ended working groups on nuclear disarmament and prevention of an arms race in outer space. We suggest that the open-ended working group on nuclear disarmament would have three main committees: a convention or framework agreement on nuclear disarmament; fissile materials; and negative security assurances and the prohibition of use of nuclear weapons.
In addition to cutting off future production for weapons purposes, we argue that an agreement on fissile materials must prevent the use of existing materials, civilian and military, in weapons, and contribute directly to irreversible disarmament. Its negotiation must not be treated as a step to be completed before negotiations on elimination of nuclear forces are commenced. A convention or framework agreement on nuclear disarmament could have a protocol on fissile materials, or provide for its subsequent negotiation. The policy of sequentialism, which has not proved to be an efficient way to achieve nuclear disarmament, must be abandoned, and a policy of integration and parallelism adopted.
*Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Montenegro, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey and Uruguay
Update on Jeju Island
Events have been moving quickly on Jeju Island, where local people are struggling to prevent the construction of a new US naval base. The base is intended to service US Navy Aegis destroyers that hold Raytheon’s missile “defence” systems. South Korean peace activists argue that the base will build-up offensive military systems in North East Asia, undermining security and prompting military responses from China and North Korea. Villagers also oppose the base because of the loss of farm land, where they have grown rice, garlic, tangerines, and more on the fertile land. The base will destroy the local environment, including coral reefs named by UNESCO as key environmental treasures. The Navy intends to pour concrete over the rocks and marine life to make wharfs for the Aegis destroyers.
There is also an online petition collecting signatures. The petition urges South Korean President Lee to stop construction of the base.
A peace camp is going to be held on Jeju Island 15–21 August 2011.
Additional materials include:
Gloria Steinem’s solidarity message
Appeal from the National Network of Korean Civil Society for Opposing to the Naval Base in Jeju Island (140 organizations and 440 individuals)
WFUNA design contest winners
The winners of the latest World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) contest, which was for youths between the ages of 15-25 to design a “crystal ball” view of the future with nuclear weapons, has concluded with some excellent entries and winners. The winning designs are available on WFUNA’s website.
Short films on UK Trident renewal
From the WMD Awareness Programme in the United Kingdom come these three short (and funny) films educating the British public about the renewal of the UK’s Trident nuclear missile.
US in talks about withdrawing nuclear weapons from Europe
During talks over NATO's Defense and Deterrence Posture Review, Washington reportedly discussed with other NATO member nations the potential withdrawal of all shorter-range, tactical nuclear weapons that have been deployed in Europe since the Cold War era. In-depth discussions will take place in coming months and the talks should reportedly conclude by the time Chicago hosts a NATO summit next May. (Source: “U.S. may pull tactical nukes out of Europe: Report,” Agence France-Presse, 14 July 2011)
German citizen sues government to remove US nuclear weapons
Peace activist Elke Koller is suing the German government demanding U.S. nuclear weapons be removed from a military base near her home, at a military base in the western town of Buechel. Koller said the nuclear weapons are in violation of Germany's constitutional peace commandment and of international humanitarian law laid out by the International Court of Justice and Germany's obligation to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. (Source: “German sues govt to remove U.S. nuclear warheads,” Thomson Reuters, 14 July 2011)
NGO launches appeal in its case against construction of a new nuclear weapon production facility in New Mexico
On 1 July 2011, the Los Alamos Study Group filed a Notice of Appeal to the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver in its litigation against the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to block final design and construction of a huge new plutonium facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) pending a study of alternatives to the $6 billion project.
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan calls for phase-out of nuclear power
In a television address on 13 July, Prime Minister Kan said that Japan should decrease and eventually eliminate its reliance on nuclear energy, though he did did not address the strategy behind such a phase-out. (Source: Chico Harlan, “Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan calls for phase-out of nuclear power,” Washington Post, 13 July 2011)
Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, delivers landmark statement on nuclear disarmament
Diplomatically, the Holy See acts and speaks on behalf of the entire Roman Catholic Church. On 1 July 2011, he gave a powerful speech in Kansas City, Missouri, site of a planned new facility to build the non-nuclear components of nuclear warheads. Entitled “The Nuclear Question: The Church’s Teachings and the Current State of Affairs,” the document is the most far-reaching statement a representative of the Holy See has ever made on nuclear disarmament. The Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy has highlighted the key points of the statement.
Desmond Tutu, “Ending Nuclear Evil,” Project Syndicate, 29 June 2011.
Amy Goodman, “A nuclear-free future for America,” The Guardian, 22 June 2011.