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.
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.