Parliamentary engagement vital for NPT goals of nuclear-risk reduction and disarmament

PNND makes proposals to the 2023 Meeting of States Parties to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) at the United Nations in Vienna.

As nuclear threats remain high from tensions and/or armed conflict in Europe, East Asia and globally, States Parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty are meeting for three weeks (July 24 -August 11) at the UN in Vienna for Preparatory Committee Meeting (NPT Prep Com) for the 2026 NPT Review Conference and a Working Group Meeting on Strengthening the NPT Review Process.

These meetings provide opportunities for governments and civil society to discuss nuclear risk-reduction, non-proliferation and disarmament issues and proposals.

Strengthening the NPT Review Process

Alyn Ware, PNND Global Coordinator and Program Officer for the World Future Council made a presentation to the NPT working group meeting on July 25 entitled Parliamentary and UN High Level Event engagement to enhance the NPT Review Process.

He recommended that government delegations to the NPT include members of parliament and encouraged parliamentary debates and motions prior to NPT Review Conferences and Prep Coms. He also recommended that governments establish cabinet-level ministerial positions for disarmament (as New Zealand has done), and that Chairs of NPT Review Conferences and States Parties to the NPT advance nuclear risk reduction and disarmament proposals and initiatives in related forums including the Summit on Sustainable Development, UN Human Rights Council and UN Summit of the Future.

Vanessa Lanteigne, PNND Program Officer, made a presentation to the NPT working group meeting on July 25 entitled Gender inclusivity and approaches to enhance the NPT Review Process.

She noted that in 2019, 76% of heads of delegations to the NPT were men, and that since 2000, all of the Presidents/Chairs of the NPT Prep-Coms have been male and only one President of an NPT Review Conference has been a woman. Vanessa proposed that the NPT institute targets for gender inclusion in State Parties' delegations, with sanctions for imbalanced delegations similar to those applied by Inter-Parliamentary Union for its assemblies.

Ms Lanteigne also noted that 'fully realized gender equality requires that issues, views, and approaches relating to characteristics associated with masculinity and femininity are both fully represented in security frameworks' and cited the assessment by Ireland  by Ireland in their working paper Gender in the Non-Proliferation Treaty that the NPT Review process has traditionally taken a ‘one -dimensional security approach to addressing nuclear weapons, in terms of the issues which are prioritised.'

She proposed that the NPT establish a subsidiary body to explore nuclear non-proliferation, risk-reduction and disarmament issues in a broader security framework of common and human security incorporating gender, peace, diplomacy, conflict resolution and international law.

Fulfilling the NPT goals of preventing nuclear war and achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world

Ms Lanteigne also presented on behalf of PNND to a full plenary of the NPT Prep Com on August 2, at which she highlighted the importance of “shifting the predominant security paradigm from one of reliance on nuclear deterrence and the threat or use of force – a paradigm which is unsustainable and cannot address key security issues of today – to one relying more on diplomacy, disarmament, conflict resolution, climate protection, sustainable development and international law."

Ms Lanteigne drew attention to civil society proposals made in the Declaration of Public Conscience Nuclear Taboo from Norm to Law which were presented to the NPT Prep Com by John Hallam (NoFirstUse Global). This included the call for NPT States Parties to affirm, codify and implement the statement from the Bali G20 Leaders Summit that ‘the threat or use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible’.

Ms Lanteigne also highlighted the statement presented at the NPT plenary session by 165 civil society organizations on Common Security versus Nuclear Deterrence: How to replace the current reliance on nuclear deterrence with sustainable security for all, and its call on UN Member States to make better use of legal and common security mechanisms to resolve international conflicts, prevent war and build confidence in non-nuclear security.

“The majority of States Parties to the NPT are already able to achieve security without reliance on nuclear deterrence,” said Ms Lanteigne. “Nuclear armed and allied states have an obligation to make the transition from security based on nuclear deterrence to non-nuclear security. Parliamentarians can support you in making this transition.”

Ms Lanteinge concluded with an appeal to NPT States Parties "to rise to this challenge, to reach beyond the dangerous and unsustainable status quo of threat postures and nuclear arms races, and to respond positively to the parliamentary and civil society calls mentioned earlier, in the knowledge that such leadership will have strong backing from parliaments, parliamentarians and civil society globally."