Seminar on the
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty:
A Treaty in trouble
Report of the NGO Committee for Disarmament
and World Council of Churches, Geneva
11-12 April 2005
The moderator for the day was David Atwood, Quaker UN Office, who introduced the speakers.
Peter Weiderud, of World Council of Churches (WCC), welcomed the
delegates and reminded that WCC was founded the same year when the first atomic
bomb was exploded in Japan. He explained the dangers facing the NPT. He also
talked about the work of the Churches in seeking unity and strength to find
solutions to the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.
The keynote speech of the day was delivered by Jozef Goldblat, vice-president of the Geneva International Peace Research Institute, who stated that the NPT is a unique document on disarmament which was indefinitely extended in 1995. At the time of signing the Treaty, in the 1960s, many NNWS saw the advantages for the development of peaceful energy- the benefits of which have never materialised. However, now it is relatively easy for countries to acquire and apply the technology to make nuclear weapons. He also noted that compliance of the NPT and the implementation of the 13 Practical Steps, which were signed by all State Parties in the 2000 NPT Review Conference, are non-existent.
He stated that the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) should enter into force as soon as possible. He also advocated that there should be a new treaty for the prohibiting the manufacture of explosives (‘No Disarmament without Control’). He also said that the right of countries to withdraw from the NPT should be abolished. The minimum notice for withdrawal should be 1 year.
Regarding the question of nuclear terrorism, he said that it should be dealt with police cooperation and compliance of UN SC Resolution 1540 by which acquiring nuclear weapons is a criminal offence.
After the keynote speeches, there was a panel discussion, including contributions from:
Ernie Regehr, in his speech ‘Recapturing the vision: Resolving the NATO-NPT Contradictions.’ spoke about the fact that NATO has to justify its existence and is in crisis. At the Washington NATO Summit in 1999, the Alliance official statement did not alter NATO position on nuclear issues, reiterating the commitment to retain nuclear weapons indefinitely. However, in the year 2000 NATO joined all other NPT signatories in declaring the elimination of nuclear weapons a priority objective - thus making contradictory statements.
The argument the NATO Doctrine, describing nuclear weapons as essential to the security of NATO states, undermines non-proliferation, is not based on the assumption NNWS pursue nuclear options simply because NATO declares nuclear weapons essential to its security. Its military superiority and the level of double standards is a cause for concern, by which proliferation is inevitable. You cannot control nuclear weapons by controlling nuclear technology so it requires strict implementation of the Treaty leading to the eventual abolition of nuclear weapons.
The Brazilian Ambassador, Ambassador Carlos Antonio da Rocha Paranchos, spoke on the New Agenda Coalition perspective. He said global security can only be accompanied by the elimination of nuclear weapons. The bargain is that NWS renounce the right to make nuclear weapons and work to wards non-proliferation and disarmament- the twin pillars of NPT.
He observed a strong disappointment about the last PrepCom (2004) where no agenda for the Review Conference has been agreed. He also emphasised that there need to be a balance between NWS and NNWS and both of them should work towards reinforcing and implementing Article IV and X of the Treaty. He also observed that although the reality of today has changed because of terrorism, the focus and goals of NAC are the same, which are working towards disarmament and non-proliferation.
Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba, the Mexican Ambassador, pointed out that in 1995, Mexico was not ready to approve to the indefinite extension of the Treaty but had to agree for the pursuance of disarmament. He also spoke of the universal agreement in 2000 and the ruling of the ICJ on nuclear weapons. He also appreciated the Canadian initiative on reporting and transparency which is a big issue. He also said that the idea of compliance of the 13 Steps had been rejected by the NWS.
He commended the participation of NGO and civil society in promoting non-proliferation with the active role of the IAEA. He also invited delegates to Mexico City for a conference on NPT on 26-28 April 2005, so as to build momentum for the Review Conference in New York.
Interesting Q&A session and discussion followed the speakers. Susi Synder, Women’s International Institute for Peace and Freedom, presented the concluding remarks and said the coordinating NGO, government and civil society are needed to work together to bring the NPT to fruition.
NGO strategy and reporting session
On 12 April (Tuesday), there was a NGO strategy and Reporting session. It was chaired by Colin Archer, Secretary-General of IPB, who suggested that all present give a brief description of activities in their countries, keeping in mind the NPT Review Conference.
Rhianna Tyson, project Manager of Reaching Critical Will, and Susi Snyder together gave an account of the events happening in New York during the Review Conference. They mentioned that all workshops will be in UN Conference Room E. A big demonstration is planned for 1 May 2005 in Central Park where there will be interactive booths with Hibakusha survivors and many other booths for young and older people to learn about nuclear weapons.
There will a daily conference newspaper which will have interviews and discuss political issues around the conference. A daily posting of official statements and interviews from diplomats will be hosted on the Reaching Critical Will website. They said that the NGO presentation session (Weds of 2nd week) is 3 hours - divided into Peoples Voices (Mayors for Peace, Inter-faith, Youth), informed analysis (nuclear waste, Article IV, VI, and 13 Practical Steps), and regional (Europe, US, South Asia, + whistleblowers).
They emphasised the importance of all the peace groups and NGOs (nearly 2,000 people expected) to work together to lobby the media and diplomats. It was suggested that they might try to secure movie stars (Alec Baldwin, Michael Douglas, and Susan Sarandon) for mass mobilisation. They said there will be an atomic exhibition by Hibakusha in the UN Building and a lot of meetings in the Church Centre opposite the UN.
A lot of pressure should be put on the delegates to achieve a positive final outcome of the Conference. However, if a final consensus document is not forthcoming it may not be a disaster. (US is already saying they don’t think it is important). It was noted that an agreement on FMCT may be a successful outcome of the NPT Review Conference.
The Committee discussed the financial situation and future programme. The finances are low (6000.- CHF) but on the other hand expenses have been low also. There was a consensus that some sort of event, to be held this Autumn (probably late Nov-early Dec), around 2 themes:
There were a wide variety of people present from France, Russia, UK, Japan, Switzerland, USA, Canada + and personnel from the WCC itself.
This paper was prepared by Vijay Mehta
CD Conference on Disarmament
CTBT Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
ICJ International Court of Justice
IPB International Peace Bureau
FMCT Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty
PrepCom Preparatory Committee
RevCon Review Conference
MDG Millennium Development Goals
NATO North Atlantic treaty Organisation
NAC New Agenda Coalition
NPT Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
NWS Nuclear Weapons States
NNWS Non-nuclear Weapons States
NGO Non-governmental Organisation
UNSC United Nations Security Council
WCC World Council of Churches