06 September 2012

Bombs away

by Dr. Robert Zuber, Global Action to Prevent War
There seems to be very good progress towards an acceptable and actionable outcome document for the PoA, in part because of the excellent work of the facilitators, one of the most effective groups that Global Action to Prevent War (GAPW) has ever witnessed. The hope, as in all disarmament-related matters, is that the work of the facilitators results in a document that promotes more robust implementation and does not merely produce more normative frameworks to encourage optional activity. 

Once this Review Conference has run its course, PoA diplomats will turn their attention to the opening of the General Assembly and, following that, their First Committee assignments. Unlike this RevCon, First Committee requires delegations to weigh in on a wide range of disarmament-related issues, everything from cluster munitions to nuclear weapons modernization.

A foretaste of responsibilities to come will take place this morning (6 September) in Conference Room 4. There will be an Informal Meeting of the General Assembly to Mark the Observance of the International Day against Nuclear Tests. Nuclear testing in and of itself is not a high priority item for many delegations, but the occasion will surely allow delegations to renew their interest in promoting a nuclear weapon free world. 

Sadly, there is often a shocking lack of interest by NGOs working on nuclear or conventional weapons in the issues and challenges of the other. For their part, some diplomats gravitate to nuclear discussions as the states they represent do not possess nuclear weapons and therefore discussions on such weapons—while critically important—do not necessarily require non-possessing states to make changes in their own defense policies.
But most diplomats thankfully understand the inter-relationships defining the broad disarmament agenda and the presence of the GA session tomorrow should serve as an important reminder of the ways in which PoA discussions intersect with wider security priorities. 

While Reaching Critical Will has recognizable robustness on both nuclear and conventional weapons, GAPW's nuclear work has been confined to promoting nuclear weapons free zones (NWFZs). In this work, we have made clear distinctions between state responsibilities to support specific NWFZ obligations, and work to preserve the security sustainability of the zone which a treaty defines. 'Sustaining the Zone' is a concept which we expound in order to remind governments that not possessing nuclear weapons does not absent states from related responsibilities to end diverted transfers, eliminate illicit small arms, and create stable, transparent, and reliable security sectors. 

These multi-dimensional and inter-related obligations bind all states in work to make our collective security arrangements in all aspects more effective, dependable, and trustworthy. The illicit weapons we eliminate, the reforms in our security sector that we can enact, yes, even the nuclear testing and modernization that we can prevent, all contribute in our view to more hopeful conditions for our planet.

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