Parliamentarians call on Nuclear Security Summit process for nuclear abolition

Legislators and disarmament experts from around the world meeting in Washington, D.C. last week called on the leaders of the nuclear-weapon States, and other States participating in the forthcoming Nuclear Security Summit to commence a high level process to achieve the global abolition of nuclear weapons.

In a statement released on 27 February, the parliamentarians and disarmament experts welcomed the Nuclear Security Summit, which aims to prevent the acquisition of nuclear weapons or bomb-making materials by terrorist organisations, but noted that ‘only by abolishing nuclear weapons globally will this risk be eliminated.’

The legislators were meeting in Washington for the Annual Assembly of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament (PNND), a global network of legislators working cooperatively to reduce the risks of nuclear weapons, prevent proliferation and achieve a safe and secure nuclear-weapons-free world.

PNND Global Coordinator Alyn Ware, in an interview in Inter-Press Service, noted that “The problem with the Nuclear Security Summit is that it only focuses on one-third of the picture: non-state actors who don’t even have nuclear weapons. It does not address the bigger picture: the current and real threats of the stockpiles of weapons and materials of nuclear-armed states, and the risks of proliferation to additional states.”

The Dutch government is touting the Nuclear Security Summit, scheduled to take place in the Hague in three weeks, as “the largest gathering of its kind ever in the country.” 58 world leaders, 5,000 delegates and 3,000 journalists are expected to participate in the Nuclear Security Summit, the third in a series of summits initiated by President Obama following his historic Prague Speech in 2009.

However, where-as the Prague Speech laid out the vision and commitment to achieve a nuclear-weapons-free world, Renée Jones-Bos, Secretary-General of the Hague Nuclear Security Summit, has stated that the Summit is not about nuclear disarmament, or even about nuclear proliferation to other States, but only about “…rogue nuclear material. It’s about ensuring that such material does not fall into the wrong hands.”

Ware replies that, “With regard to nuclear weapons, there are no right hands. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague has long confirmed that the threat or use of nuclear weapons is generally illegal, regardless of who would possess or use such weapons (State or non-State actors), and that there is an obligation to achieve complete nuclear disarmament. It’s ironic that this summit is happening in The Hague, but appears to ignore the conclusion of, and legal imperative from, the highest court in the world situated in the same city.”

Angela Kane (UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs), Saber Chowdhury MP (PNND Co-President and President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Standing Commission on Peace and International Security) and Vidya Shankar Aiyar (PNND India Coordinator) at the PNND Assembly in Washington D.C. Angela Kane (UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs), Saber Chowdhury MP (PNND Co-President and President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Standing Commission on Peace and International Security) and Vidya Shankar Aiyar (PNND India Coordinator) at the PNND Assembly in Washington D.C.
The statement released at the PNND Assembly notes that

the highest level of political commitment is needed to achieve the global common good of ending the risk that nuclear weapons will ever be used by a terrorist – or a state – by accident, design or madness. Only by eliminating nuclear weapons will this risk be eliminated. We believe that achieving this global common good requires efforts at every level – local, national, and global. However, the existential imperative of ending the threat of nuclear weapons requires the highest level of political commitment, cooperation, and action.

We therefore strongly urge you to commit to include in the agenda of your next meeting work on substantive plans to achieve the universal, legally verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons. If this summit process cannot include this issue in its agenda we strongly urge you to establish a parallel process at the same high political level.

We commit to support such efforts in our respective legislative bodies.