International Disarmament Institute News

June 23, 2017
by mbolton

Op-Ed: Why Strong Victim Assistance and Environmental Remediation Obligations Matter

Matthew Bolton, director of Pace University’s International Disarmament Institute, published the following op-ed in the Nuclear Ban Daily on 21 June, regarding positive obligations in the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty, currently being negotiated at the UN in New York. For more a detailed report on his research regarding positive obligations, click here.

The stories and examples of victims and affected communities have been used as the justifying case for the nuclear ban treaty. For example, the second paragraph of the Humanitarian Pledge asserts that “the rights and needs of victims have not yet been adequately addressed.”

As a result, it is crucial that the nuclear weapon ban treaty include robust positive obligations on states to provide victim assistance and remediate the environment. The provisions in Article 6 and 8 of the current draft treaty enable states to seek and provide assistance for victims and in remediating environment contaminated by the use or testing of nuclear weapons.

But they must be strengthened to ensure that victims and affected communities are treated as people with rights, not objects of charity. In particular, the preamble should be bolstered with references to human rights and environmental law, particularly regarding the impact on victims, indigenous peoples, gender equality, and sustainable development.

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June 21, 2017
by mbolton

Presentation of Research on Norm Promotion Provisions to Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty Negotiations

Pace University’s International Disarmament Institute presented research on norm promotion and dissemination provisions in disarmament treaties to the UN negotiations on a nuclear weapons ban treaty. Below is the written version of the statement delivered by Dr. Matthew Bolton. For more details on the research, see the Institute’s Working Paper.

Thank you Madame President,

This Convention aims to stigmatize nuclear weapons. However, normative change does not happen by itself; it requires action by states, international organizations, civil society, faith leaders and academia.

Pace University’s International Disarmament Institute has conducted research on provisions in relevant humanitarian and disarmament instruments regarding the universalization and promotion of norms they establish. Our detailed research can be found in Working Paper, number 36, submitted to the conference.

The current draft of Article 13 on universalization establishes important obligations to encourage other states to join the treaty. However, we encourage the conference to consider including provisions found in other instruments that provide additional avenues for diffusing norms.

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June 20, 2017
by mbolton

La Convention d’Interdiction des Armes Nucléaires et les Objectifs de Développement Durable

Le projet de Convention d’Interdiction des Armes Nucléaires (CIAN) représente une opportunité historique dans le domaine du désarmement nucléaire.  Le droit humanitaire représentant la pierre d’assise du CIAN, sa mise en application contribuera de façon significative à la réalisation des Objectifs de développement durable (ODD).  Ainsi, le préambule reconnait que les armes nucléaires posent de « grave implications for (…) socioeconomic development » et rappel les engagements pris par les États parties afin de contribuer aux « principes et aux buts de la charte des Nations unies »

Les trois rencontres intitulées « Initiative humanitaire sur les armes nucléaires » ont démontré que les conséquences dévastatrices de la détonation d’arme nucléaire sur les populations civiles ne connaissent pas de frontière. Les recherches les plus récentes ont démontré sans équivoque que l’arme nucléaire nuit sérieusement à notre capacité de respecter nos engagements collectifs envers le développement durable.

Le CIAN dans son ensemble contribuera à réaliser l’ODD 16 : « Promouvoir l’avènement de sociétés pacifiques et ouvertes à tous aux fins du développement durable, assurer l’accès de tous à la justice et mettre en place, à tous les niveaux, des institutions efficaces, responsables et ouvertes à tous ». Également, la mise en place de dispositions spécifiques dans le texte du traité ainsi que l’ajout de certains amendements contribueront davantage à renforcer le lien entre le CIAN à la réalisation des ODD.

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June 16, 2017
by mbolton

Op-Ed: Revitalizing Internationalism through the Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

Director of Pace University’s International Disarmament Institute Matthew Bolton wrote an op-ed for Just Security on the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty negotiations:

A resurgence of small-minded nationalism around the globe, most worryingly in several nuclear-armed countries, has gravely concerned many who champion the international organizations that promote global peace and security, human rights and humanitarianism and sustainable development. Here in the U.S., foreign policy experts across the political spectrum have despaired at Donald Trump’s disregard for multilateral security institutions, withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change, and outright disrespect for global diplomatic norms.

For activists on the streets and officials in the negotiation rooms, the nuclear weapons ban treaty offers a way to reclaim political agency, showing that – even in difficult times – it is possible to address global security challenges through advocacy, diplomacy and multilateralism. By writing a treaty they are choosing to develop new norms, rather than being defined in reaction to the ugly nationalism of our time. They are demonstrating that internationalism is alive and well and can achieve progressive change.

To read the full article, click here.

June 16, 2017
by mbolton

The Draft Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and Sustainable Development

The Draft Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (CPNW) is a groundbreaking opportunity for nuclear disarmament; however, the implementation of the CPNW will also contribute significantly to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The humanitarian framing of the draft CPNW provides the basis for the links between the Convention and the SDGs. The Preamble recognizes that the consequences of nuclear weapons “pose grave implications for […] socioeconomic development” and outlines the states parties’ commitment to contributing to “principles and the purpose of the Charter of the United Nations”.

The three Humanitarian Initiative meetings showed that the unacceptable humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use and testing are not limited by national borders. The evidence clearly shows that any nuclear weapon explosion will have a global impact on our collective ability to pursue sustainable development.

In a new report by Erin Hunt, she shows how the CPNW will contribute to a number of SDGs and some recommended amendments to the draft CPNW could increase the links to the SDGs. The report is co-published by Pace University’s International Disarmament Institute and Mines Action Canada, supported by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.

To read the full report, click here.

June 15, 2017
by mbolton

Side Event on Positive Obligations in a Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons

Pace University’s International Disarmament Institute will co-host a panel on positive obligations in the draft Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty at United Nations Headquarters, 1.15-2.45pm, 21 June 2017 in Conference Room B.

During the March negotiation session of the nuclear weapons ban treaty, 27 states plus the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the ICRC and civil society called for the new legal instrument to include not only a comprehensive set of prohibitions but also positive obligations on states parties. The first draft of the treaty responded to these calls and incorporated general provisions on positive obligations. Negotiating states should now work to expand and strengthen the provisions in order to maximize their effectiveness.

This panel discussion and dialogue will assess the positive obligations in the first draft of the treaty, suggest ways to improve them, and highlight why such revisions would be particularly important to the prohibition treaty. Including positive obligations would enhance the treaty, its operation and impact and is consistent with recent international weapons prohibition treaties. Such positive obligations could include:

  • Rights and remedial measures (e.g. environmental remediation, risk education, victim assistance),
  • Promotion of the treaty and of its norms (e.g. universalization and disarmament education),
  • International cooperation and assistance to implement the above two sets of obligations.

By promoting the inclusion of strong positive obligations in the new legal instrument prohibiting nuclear weapons, this event will help ensure that the treaty not only builds on previous humanitarian disarmament treaties but it also contributes to the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda.

Featured speakers include:

  • H.E. David Donoghue, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the UN
  • Roland Oldham, Moruroa e Tatou (MET), President of an organization advocating for the rights of victims of nuclear testing in Tahiti
  • Bonnie Docherty, Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic, expert on humanitarian disarmament law
  • Erin Hunt, Mines Action Canada, expert on victim assistance
  • Elizabeth Minor, Article 36, expert on humanitarian disarmament
  • Matthew Bolton, Director of Pace University’s International Disarmament Institute

This event in co-sponsored by the UN Mission of Ireland, Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic, Mines Action Canada, Article 36 and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

Click here for the full flyer.

To read an analysis of positive obligations in the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty by the International Disarmament Institute, click here.

June 15, 2017
by mbolton

Report on Strengthening Positive Obligations in the Nuclear Weapons Ban Accepted as Official UN Working Paper

A summary of Pace University International Disarmament Institute research on strengthening positive obligations in the draft Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty has been accepted as an official working paper by the UN negotiating conference.

The working paper recommends:

  • Strengthening the human rights and environmental framing of the preamble, particularly regarding the impact on victims, indigenous peoples, gender equality and sustainable development,
  • Making victim assistance an obligation and elaborating further on its necessary activities and institutional arrangements,
  • Making environmental remediation an obligation and elaborating further on its necessary activities and institutional arrangements,
  • Including a risk reduction education obligation in the environmental remediation provision,
  • Establishing obligations to promote and universalize the norms stigmatizing nuclear weapons, condemn violations and support disarmament education,
  • Specifying further the types of national implementation measures to be put in place including legal, administrative and other measures,
  • Adding transparency and reporting obligations to ensure accountability in implementation,
  • Specifying further international cooperation and assistance measures, including the establishment of a voluntary trust fund to aid implementation of positive obligations and other provisions.

To read the working paper, click here.

To read the full research report, click here.

June 14, 2017
by mbolton

The Nuclear Weapons Ban and Human Security for All

As government gather in New York to begin a second round of talks on a treaty banning nuclear weapons, the International Disarmament Institute’s Matthew Bolton assesses the treaty’s draft from a human security perspective. The report, published by Friedrich Ebert Foundation, argues that:

  • Current negotiations for a nuclear weapons ban treaty have revived the efforts to abolish nuclear weapons. Similar to other types of weapons, it is hoped that the stigmatization and prohibition of nuclear weapons will pave the way towards their elimination.
  • The Draft Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (DCPNW) offers a strong basis for negotiations on a global nuclear weapons ban in June and July 2017. If adopted, it would be the most significant shift in nuclear politics since the end of the Cold War and a policy victory for human security.
  • While finalizing the treaty text in a timely fashion, states should still seize the opportunity to enhance its human security dimensions, for instance by incorporating references to human rights and environmental law; bolstering the core prohibitions by adding an explicit prohibition on financing nuclear weapons production; and by strengthening positive obligations on victim assistance, environmental remediation and disarmament education.
  • The final treaty should offer nuclear-armed and nuclear alliance states a pathway for engagement with and eventual accession to the agreement.

To read the full report, click here.

To read the International Disarmament Institute’s more in-depth analysis of the draft treaty’s positive obligations on victim assistance, environmental remediation and norm promotion, click here.

May 31, 2017
by mbolton

The Role of Education in Advancing Arms Trade Treaty Universalization and Implementation: Lessons Learned from ATT Academy East Africa 2016-2017

Participants of the ATT Academy meet in Lake Nakuru National Park in Kenya.

The 2013 Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), negotiated and adopted at the UN in New York, offers opportunities to limit the potential for conventional weapons to be used to commit crimes against humanity, terrorism, organized crime, violations of human rights and humanitarian law and acts of gender-based violence. It currently has 90 state parties, but some states that were strong champions of the Treaty have not yet acceded to it. Many states that have joined the
ATT nevertheless report they need technical assistance and training to implement the Treaty effectively.

Responding to these concerns, Pace University’s International Disarmament Institute in partnership with the Control Arms Secretariat organized the ATT Academy 2016-2017, a year-long program of education, research and training on the Treaty for carefully selected East and Horn of Africa officials and key civil society activists. This project was supported by the UN Trust Facility Supporting Cooperation on Arms Regulation (UNSCAR).

In this report on lessons learned in the project, participants report that the ATT Academy provided them with in-depth knowledge of the ATT, enabling them address accession and implementation challenges in the region. Organizers learned that the ATT universalization and implementation effort will require an educational component, to share information, technical expertise and lessons learned. A targeted, intensive, longterm, in-person and contextualized program of training is better than one-off seminars. High-impact pedagogies like simulations and group discussions are often more effective than a lecture format alone.

To read the full report, click here.

May 31, 2017
by mbolton

Le Rôle de l’Éducation dans l’Avancement de l’Universalisation et de la Mise en Oeuvre du Traité sur le Commerce des Armes: Enseignements tirés de l’Académie du TCA en Afrique de l’Est, 2016–2017

Le Traité sur le commerce des armes (TCA) de 2013, négocié et adopté au siège de l’ONU à New York, vise à limiter l’utilisation des armes classiques dans le cadre de crimes contre l’humanité, d’actions terroristes, de criminalité organisée, de violations des droits de l’homme et du droit humanitaire, et d’actes de violences sexistes. Il compte actuellement 90 États parties, mais certains des États qui l’ont ardemment défendu n’y ont pas encore adhéré. De nombreux États signataires du TCA ont communiqué un besoin d’assistance technique et de formation pour pouvoir assurer la mise en oeuvre efficace du Traité.

En réponse à ces préoccupations, en 2016–2017, l’International Disarmament Institute de Pace University, en partenariat avec le Secrétariat de la Coalition Contrôlez les armes, a mis en place l’Académie du TCA, un programme d’éducation, de recherche et de formation sur le Traité d’une durée d’un an, adressé à des fonctionnaires soigneusement sélectionnés et d’importants militants de la société civile dans la région de l’Est et de la Corne de l’Afrique. Les participants ont indiqué que l’Académie du TCA leur a permis d’acquérir une connaissance approfondie du Traité, et ainsi d’aborder les défis posés par l’adhésion au TCA et sa mise en oeuvre dans la région.

De leur côté, les organisateurs ont appris que l’effort d’universalisation et de mise en oeuvre du TCA nécessiterait une composante éducative afin de partager l’information, l’expertise technique et les enseignements tirés. Un programme de formation intensif ciblé, à long terme, en personne et contextuel est mieux adapté qu’une série de séminaires ponctuels. Les pédagogies à impact élevé, comme les simulations et les discussions de groupe, sont plus efficaces que les conférences seules.

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