PNND leaders welcome UN decision on 2018 'summit' on nuclear disarmament

UN General Assembly decides on dates of May 14-16, 2018 for UN High-Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament. PNND leaders call on governments to attend at the 'highest level'.

As tensions between North Korea and the USA raise again the spectre of a nuclear war, the United Nations last week called on leaders to come together in a High-Level Conference (similar to a UN Summit) to reduce nuclear dangers and pave the way for nuclear disarmament.

In a resolution adopted by the First Committee of the UN General Assembly on November 1, the UN set the dates and general mandate for a High-Level conference on nuclear disarmament. The principal aim for the conference, which will take place at the United Nations in New York from May 14-16, 2018, is to make progress on effective measures for nuclear risk-reduction and disarmament.

The resolution reminds nuclear-armed States that they have previously agreed to hold an international conference to ‘eliminate nuclear dangers’, but not yet done so. And it calls for progress to be made on a nuclear weapons convention – a global agreement which would include the nuclear-armed States and provide a phased and verified process for prohibiting and eliminating nuclear weapons.

PNND leaders welcome the UN decision

 Christine Muttonen, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe

Parliamentarians from across the political spectrum have been calling on governments to step back from the nuclear brink,’ says Christine Muttonen MP (Austria), President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and PNND Co-President. ‘This includes adopting policies to never use nuclear weapons first, to attend the 2018 UN conference at the highest level, and to support UN nuclear disarmament negotiations. We are ready to assist governments in this vitally important initiative.’

The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly – which includes the parliaments of France, Russia, United Kingdom, USA and the other 52 OSCE members – adopted declarations in 2016 and 2017 calling on member governments to undertake such disarmament measures.

The declarations call specifically: 'on all participating OSCE States to participate in the 2018 UN international conference on nuclear disarmament at the highest level, to include parliamentarians in their delegations to the conference and to pursue the adoption of nuclear risk reduction, transparency and disarmament measures at the conference.”

Saber Chowdhury, Honorary President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), speaking at the opeing of the IPU Assembly in St Petersburg, October 2017

The human and economic resources currently committed to nuclear weapons – over $100 billion per year – are a waste and could instead be used to create jobs, support renewable energy, protect the climate and implement the sustainable development goals (SDGs),’ says Saber Chowdhury MP, Honorary President of the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) and PNND Co-President. ‘The UN conference provides an opportunity to make mutual commitments to re-direct some of these resources, as we phase out reliance on nuclear weapons.

PNND has joined with World Future Council and International Peace Bureau on 'Move the Nuclear Weapons Money', a global campaign on nuclear weapons spending which highlights the connections between nuclear disarmament and achieving the SDGs.

‘Non-nuclear countries have already taken a lead in adopting a treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons’ says Alyn Ware, PNND Global Coordinator. ‘We hope and expect that the number of countries signing the treaty will grow from the current 53 to 100 by the end of the UN Conference. This will give strong support to global nuclear disarmament.'

PNND and the IPU standing  committees on United Nations Affairs and Peace & International Security, organised a special session at the 137th IPU Assembly in St Petersburg on October 16 to encourage parliamentarians to work with their governments to sign and ratify the treaty, support the UN High Level Conference, and undertake other actions outlined in the Parliamentary Action Plan for a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World.

PNND Global Coordinator Alyn Ware at the IPU Assembly with Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez (President of the UN negotiating conference for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Nine nations continue to hold the world at risk of nuclear annihilation,’ says Jonathan Granoff, PNND Council Member and UN Representative for the Secretariat of the World Summits of Nobel Peace Laureates. ‘Although 120 non-nuclear weapons states have negotiated a treaty to ban the weapons, the states with the weapons remain deadlocked in inertia. It is time for leaders to come together the high-level conference, to discuss measures to reduce nuclear threats and start the process of collective universal nuclear weapons elimination.”

The nuclear-armed States are threatening not only themselves but the whole world with their arsenals on hair-trigger alert and with first-use policies,’ says Bill Kidd MSP, Co-chair of the Scottish Parliament Cross-party Group on Nuclear Disarmament, and PNND Co-President ‘These weapons, including the ones deployed in Scotland by the UK, make us a target in a nuclear exchange, rather than a force for peace. The UN conference provides an opportunity for the nuclear-armed governments to realise that we all would be safer in a non-nuclear-armed world.’

The UN conference provides an opportunity for the UK and other nuclear-armed States to make progress on incremental disarmament measures to which they agreed in the Non-Proliferation Treaty conferences but have not yet implemented,’ says Baroness Sue Miller, Member of the UK House of Lords and PNND Co-President. ‘Prime Minister Theresa May should commit now to attending the 2018 conference and working with her colleagues from the other nuclear-armed States to adopt concrete measures at the conference.’

Baroness Sue Miller (UK) speaking in the House of Lords

Countries like Canada which are under extended nuclear deterrence relationships, have a role to reduce the reliance on nuclear weapons and support effective disarmament measures,’ says Dr Hedy Fry MP, Member of Parliament for Vancouver Center (Canada), PNND Canada Co-Chair and the  Special Representative on Gender Issues for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. ‘The UN High Level Conference provides an opportunity to do this.

The series of conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons hosted by Norway, Mexico and Austria demonstrated that any use of nuclear weapons would have catastrophic human, environmental and economic impact on cities and on populations around the world,’ says Thore Vestby, Vice-President of Mayors for Peace and a member of PNND Norway. ‘Mayors who have a responsibility for safety in their cities, are therefore joining together to support nuclear disarmament, and will be attending the 2018 High-Level Conference along with parliamentarians and other civil society representatives.’

Will silence and repeating past positions resolve the very real dangers posed by the huge arsenals of Russia and the United States, the tensions with North Korea or India and Pakistan?” Mr Granoff asked. ‘It is time for leaders to come together the high-level conference, take nuclear war off the table, and commit to a negotiating process directed toward achieving a nuclear weapons free world, a duty already embodied in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.’

Bill Kidd MSP, PNND Co-President chairing a PNND meeting in Astana. Others pictured are Senator Damen-Masri (Jordan), Saber Chowdhury, Alyn Ware, Jonathan Granoff and Denise Pascal Allende MP (Chile).