Interactive session at IPU Assembly, St Petersburg

The UN process for prohibiting nuclear weapons

Monday, October 16, 2017 | Tavrichesky Palace, St Petersburg

Discussion of the role of parliaments to support the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, the 2018 UN High Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament and other UN initiatives. 

The UN process for the prohibition of nuclear weapons: What hope for nuclear disarmament?

Monday, 16 October 2017 (3:30 pm – 5:30 pm)
Hall no.1 (ground floor), Tavrichesky Palace

Interactive session convened by the IPU Standing Committee on United Nations Affairs and the Standing Committee on Peace and International Security, in cooperation with Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (PNND)

Concept note

In January 2017, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved the ‘Doomsday Clock’ to 2½ minutes to midnight, highlighting the increased tensions between nuclear-armed countries and risks of the use of nuclear weapons by accident, miscalculation or intent.

In response to the growing awareness about the catastrophic consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, the United Nations on 7 July 2017 adopted a ground-breaking Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The Treaty binds State Parties to never “develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”

It also prohibits the transfer of nuclear weapons as well as the stationing or installation of third party weapons in a state’s own territory. 122 States, all of them already non-nuclear, voted for the Treaty. None of the nuclear states or their allies supported the Treaty - as such, its provisions will not apply to them. The Treaty however does includes provisions to allow these countries to join at a later stage

Significantly, the nuclear weapons ban Treaty acknowledges the important role of parliamentarians in raising “public conscience in the furthering of the principles of humanity as evidenced by the call for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.”

In March 2014, the IPU adopted a resolution entitled Towards a nuclear weapon-free-world: The contribution of parliaments. Among other things, this resolution recommends that parliaments urge their governments to start negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention or on a package of agreements to help achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world.

In July 2017, PNND released a Parliamentary Action Plan for a Nuclear-Weapon Free World, which had been developed in consultation with IPU and which includes a focus on the various UN initiatives for nuclear disarmament.

In 2018 the United Nations will hold a High Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament which most UN Members are expected to attend, including the nuclear-armed and allied countries, and which will examine modalities to move ahead towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.

One area of progress could be building ratifications for the nuclear weapons ban Treaty to ensure its entry-into-force. Another area of progress could be moving nuclear armed and allied states to agree to lower nuclear threat postures, reduce the role of nuclear weapons, decrease their nuclear stockpiles and adopt a framework for achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world. The Conference provides a significant opportunity for progress, one that must be seized.

This interactive panel discussion will reflect on the political and security context of the new Treaty and the 2018 UN High Level Conference. The discussion will foster dialogue among parliamentarians with a view to building support for concrete and effective measures to achieve the shared vision of a nuclear-weapon-free world.