International Disarmament Institute News

September 6, 2017
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Briefing Paper on Disarmament Education for UN General Assembly First Committee

The International Disarmament Institute has provided an article on the disarmament education policy agenda for this year’s First Committee Briefing Book, which provides guidance to delegates and advocates attended the UN General Assembly’s meetings this coming fall on disarmament and international security.

The successful negotiation of the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) has provided new political and legal impetus for disarmament education. The preamble specifically recognises “the importance of peace and disarmament education in all its aspects and of raising awareness of the risks and consequences of nuclear weapons for current and future generations, and committed to the dissemination of the principles and norms” of the TPNW. It also stress the role of UN, “International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, other international and regional organizations, non-governmental organizations, religious leaders, parliamentarians, academics and the hibakusha” as representatives of the “public conscience” in pressing for nuclear disarmament. This framing represents a welcome turn toward a more vigorous approach to disarmament and nonproliferation education.

To read our article, click here.

July 28, 2017
by mbolton
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Guide to the New Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty

The majority of the world’s countries just adopted a new treaty banning nuclear weapons, placing them in the same category of international law as other weapons of mass destruction (chemical and biological weapons) or that cause unacceptable harm (landmines and cluster munitions). Despite this being the most significant development in global nuclear politics since the end of the Cold War, discussion of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is almost absent from the U.S. news media and often misunderstood in DC policy circles.

The treaty was approved by a vote at the UN on July 7: 122 countries voted in favor, the Netherlands against and Singapore abstained. The treaty will be available for countries to start signing it  on September 20.

In an article for Just Security, director of Pace University’s International Disarmament Institute provides a brief guide to the treaty’s preamble and operative provisions. Click here to read it.

July 28, 2017
by mbolton
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How the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty Helped Expose Disarmament’s Weakness on the Environment

In this new report from Pace University’s International Disarmament Institute and the Toxic Remnants of War Project, Doug Weir, explores the implications of the new Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty for the protection of the environment:

The successful adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in July 2017 was a significant step forward for efforts to stigmatise, and ultimately ban, the final weapon of mass destruction not addressed by a specific legal prohibition. Much has, and will continue to be written on the treaty’s potential impact on ossified state-centric debates about nuclear security. The Humanitarian Initiative on Nuclear Weapons intentionally posed a direct challenge to the rarefied world of nuclear experts and think tanks, particularly those captured by, and actively participating in, the prevailing state security discourse. However, beyond the conflict between the state and human security advocates, there was another story playing out, and it was a story that highlighted the fact that disarmament doesn’t really do “the environment” as effectively as it should. Addressing this weakness would strengthen future humanitarian disarmament initiatives.

To read the full report, click here.

Weir is Visiting Research Fellow in the Department of War Studies’ Marjan Centre at King’s College London and coordinates the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons and manages the Toxic Remnants of War Project.

June 30, 2017
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Op-Ed: Ensuring Respect for the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty

Matthew Bolton, director of Pace University’s International Disarmament Institute, published the following op-ed in the Nuclear Ban Daily on 29 June 2017 on ensuring respect for theNuclear Weapons Ban Treaty, currently being negotiated at the UN in New York. For more a detailed report on his research regarding positive obligations, including ensuring respect and promoting norms, click here.

A crucial purpose of the ban treaty process is to stigmatize nuclear weapons. To do so, it should undermine the policies and practices in nuclear-armed and nuclear-allied states that entrench the persistence of nuclear arsenals. This includes delegitimizing doctrines of nuclear deterrence and accepting the stationing of nuclear weapons on the territories of non-nuclear weapons states. Prohibitions on military preparations and planning, stationing, and financing of nuclear weapons are key elements in this effort, raising the costs—economic, social, political and diplomatic—of the nuclear weapons complex.

However, stigmatizing nuclear weapons will require more than negative prohibitions. It will also require states to take positive actions that cultivate, generate, and disseminate the norms of the treaty, both domestically and globally.

In this round of negotiations, states and civil society have begun to discuss potential provisions to this effect, including regarding universalization, norm promotion, disarmament education and awareness raising, and fostering a culture of peace. Others have suggested language that would require states to condemn violations of the prohibitions by states not party. Such obligations would help do the discursive work of delegitimizing nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence doctrines.

In building and strengthening this stigmatizing architecture, states should also consider augmenting it with the “respect” tradition in humanitarian law.

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June 23, 2017
by mbolton
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UN Side Event Highlights Importance of Victim Assistance and Environmental Remediation in Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty

Roland Oldham, president of Moruroa e Tatou, an organization representing the rights of victims of nuclear weapons testing in Tahiti, presenting at the UN during negotiations of a Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty.

Pace University’s International Disarmament Institute co-hosted a panel with the Irish Mission on positive obligations in the draft Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty at United Nations Headquarters on 21 June 2017. The event was also co-sponsored by Article 36, Mines Action Canada, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic.

We were honored to hear from His Excellency Ambassador David Donoghue, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Ireland and Deputy Permanent Representative Tim Mawe, who both expressed Ireland’s strong support for positive obligations of victim assistance, environmental remediation, disarmament education and international cooperation and assistance in the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty. They suggested that similar provisions in the Convention on Cluster Munitions, negotiated in Dublin, could serve as useful models.

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June 23, 2017
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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
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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 16, 2017
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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 15, 2017
by mbolton
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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.

May 31, 2017
by mbolton
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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.

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