World body of parliaments discusses nuclear risks, weapons budgets and sustainable development

Over 600 parliamentarians meet in Dhaka. PNND organizes nuclear disarmament forums for parliamentarians and youth. International Day of Sport for Peace and Development commemorated.

The $100 billion global nuclear weapons budget should instead be invested in sustainable development.
-- Saber Chowdhury, President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and Co-President of PNND

Over 600 MPs from 126 countries, including 80 Speakers or Deputy Speakers of Parliament, met in Dhaka, Bangladesh from April 1-5 to discuss parliamentary action on global issues.

Key topics at the 136th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) included ending poverty, advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals, ensuring the full participation of women in the economy, addressing terrorism, ending the threats from chemical and nuclear weapons, and preventing aggression and the violation of State sovereignty.

Saber Chowdhury, PNND Co-President, presiding over the IPU Assembly.

In a declaration adopted by the Assembly, the IPU highlighted that "extreme inequalities" come at a high cost to society, stalling economic growth, undermining the democratic process and social cohesion and increasing the risk of violence and insecurity. The Assembly also adopted a resolution on guaranteeing women access to financial mechanisms and a resolution addressing non-intervention in the internal affairs of States.

In a special session on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, PNND Global Coordinator Alyn Ware highlighted the objective of PNND members in nuclear-armed States to cut the $100 billion global nuclear weapons budget and re-direct these funds towards SDGs. He also noted that parliamentarians in non-nuclear countries could assist by ensuring that their public funds and banks end all investments in corporations manufacturing nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. (See PNND presentation on nuclear weapons and sustainable development).

There is now a proposal to the UN Conference negotiating a nuclear weapons ban treaty to include a prohibition on nuclear weapons financing in the treaty.  Parliaments and parliamentarians could support this proposal. We must invest not in nuclear weapons, but in peace and development for current and future generations.
– Alyn Ware, PNND Global Coordinator.

IPU Special Session on the United Nations and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

PNND also organised a side event on April 3, a one-day parliamentary forum on April 6, a commemoration event for the UN International Day of Sport for Peace and Development also on April 6, and a youth forum on April 7.

IPU Side event: Nuclear-risk reduction and achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world

This roundtable was organised by PNND to discuss implementation of the resolution adopted at the 130th IPU Assembly Toward a Nuclear Weapon Free World: The Contribution of Parliaments.

The event was opened with a video message from U.S. Senator Ed Markey highlighting the importance of IPU and PNND action on nuclear disarmament. Senator Markey, a Co-President of PNND, spoke about the efforts he is leading in the US Congress to reduce the risks of nuclear weapons being used and to slash the nuclear weapons budget.

Alyn Ware, PNND Global Coordinator, provided an update on the political situation regarding nuclear weapons, the threats they posed, and the key diplomatic and multilateral processes to address these threats and advance nuclear disarmament.

Mr Ware referred to a briefing paper ‘Nuclear risk-reduction, disarmament and the role of parliamentarians’ which highlighted three multilateral processes: the UN negotiations which started in March 2017 on a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons, the Review Cycle for the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) which resumes in May 2017, and the UN High Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament to take place in 2018. 

Mr Ware also noted the connection between cutting nuclear weapons budgets, divesting public funds from nuclear weapons corporations, and financing the Sustainable Development Goals.

Senator Laura Rojas preparing for a presentation at the IPU

Senator Laura Rojas (PNND Co-President and Chair of the IPU Standing Committee on Peace and International Security) provided additional background on the UN negotiations for a nuclear weapons prohibition treaty, and expressed the hope that it would be completed and ready for ratification by the time of the UN High Level Conference.

Delegates raised a number of issues in the discussion. One issue was whether verification of disarmament and non-proliferation agreements could provide confidence that such agreements would not be violated. Another issue was how to move the countries that rely on nuclear weapons for security to replace this with reliance on international law, cooperative security mechanisms like the United Nations and OSCE and/or conventional deterrence.

The issues and ideas discussed in the roundtable will be reflected in the Parliamentary Action Plan for a Nuclear Weapon Free World, which is being developed by PNND in consultation with parliamentarians and policy experts around the world, based on the IPU resolution Toward a Nuclear Weapon Free World: The Contribution of Parliaments.

April 6 Forum: Nuclear disarmament issues and initiatives, the role of parliamentarians and civil society

This full-day forum brought together parliamentarians from the region with experts and civil society actors. Presenters included Mayeen Uddin Khan Badal MP (Chair of PNND Bangladesh), Keisuke Suzuki MP (Secretary-General of PNND Japan), Mani Shankar Aiyar (PNND Co-President, India), Saber Chowdhury MP (IPU President), Matt Robson (former New Zealand Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control) and Dr Kamrul Hasan Khan (President of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Bangladesh).

Key themes emerging from the forum were that:

  • Understanding the politics in Asia is important, but nuclear risk-reduction and disarmament poses an existential threat, and so must be advanced on a cross-party basis without being held hostage to inter-parliamentary rivalry or regional politics;
  • There are national measures and regional measures that can be take, such as divestment and prohibition legislation in non-nuclear governments, and establishing regional nuclear-weapon-free zones. However, disarmament by the nuclear-armed States requires a global approach as the nuclear weapons policies are generally developed in response to the nuclear weapons of others.
    Members of the Bangladesh Parliament at the PNND Forum on April 6

    April 6: UN Day of Sport for Peace and Development

PNND joined the #WhiteCard campaign to highlight the many ways in which sport can be used to promote peace and development. Sport promotes fair play based on rules with a referee to sort out conflicts, similar to the UN approach to international conflicts which is based on international law and conflict resolution mechanisms.

The #WhiteCard, which is used to promote the International Day of Sport for Peace and Development, emphasizes peace, respect and adherence to the rules. Sport also captures the imagination of youth, transcends national borders, and can be used to ensure inclusion and reconciliation.

PNND Global Coordinator Alyn Ware, a member of Peace and Sport and participant in the Peace and Sport New York marathon, led a #WhiteCard event at the PNND Forum in Dhaka to commemorate the International Day.

#White Card commemoration of the International Day of Sport for Peace and Development, at the IPU Assembly

April 7: Youth Forum

Over 300 university students and representatives from youth organisations participated in a Youth Forum at Dhaka University organised by PNND.

The forum included a screening of the movie ‘The Man Who Saved the World’, and presentations by Mani Shankar Aiyar (PNND Co-President, India), Mayeen Uddin Khan Badal MP (Chair of PNND Bangladesh), Professor Arefin Siddique (Vice-Chancellor of Dhaka University) and Alyn Ware (PNND Global Coordinator). It was followed by questions and answers with a focus on what youth could do. PNND circulated a flyer Nuclear Abolition: What can Youth Do?

Saber Chowdhury and Alyn Ware promote the Youth Forum on Nuclear Abolition