Open-ended fault lines

Many proposals have been brought to the table at the open-ended working group on nuclear disarmament in Geneva. What are the main fault lines for discussions?

By Magnus Løvold

If success were to be measured by rate of document production, the open-ended working group (OEWG) on nuclear disarmament could already be considered a great triumph. As the second substantial segment of the OEWG gets going in Geneva, states and civil society have set forth an impressive 35 working papers—more than three times the number of working papers written for the previous OEWG in 2013.

Challenges afoot for the NPT

With the next round of discussions of the open-ended working group (OEWG) on nuclear disarmament imminent, it may seem premature to look ahead twelve months to the first preparatory meeting for the new review cycle of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT). But a thoughtful article just published by Robert Einhorn, suggesting some improvements to NPT procedures, provides good cause to do so.

By Tim Caughley

Describing the current review process of the NPT as unsatisfactory, Einhorn writes that it ‘produces high drama and intense diplomatic activity, but rarely contributes to the strengthening of the NPT regime. All NPT parties are frustrated with it’. It is time, he believes, to try something new.

Impossible compounds

Synthesizing states’ views of how to address the nuclear threat requires an advanced degree in diplomatic alchemyChemical_reactions.svg

By Magnus Løvold

Several states and observers participating at the First Committee of the UN General Assembly last autumn noted that the international nuclear disarmament debate is becoming increasingly polarized. In the corridors of the UN Headquarters in New York, states and observers had different opinions about this changing political dynamic, and characterizations ranged from clarifying (and therefore good) to divisive (and therefore bad). But few seemed to dispute the initial claim that the states involved in discussions about how to bring nuclear disarmament forward are increasingly divided into two opposing camps.

The not so open-ended working group?

When the UN General Assembly decided to establish another Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on nuclear disarmament last fall, it stressed the importance of inclusiveness and welcomed ‘the participation of all Member States’. But how inclusive is the OEWG really?

By Aasmund Skjetne & Torbjørn Graff Hugo

According to the Indian delegation to the Conference on Disarmament (CD), the OEWG is not very inclusive at all. In their view, it ‘does not include all representative groups of states, in particular states whose interests are specially affected’. The fact that all the nuclear-armed states voluntarily decided to boycott the first session of the OEWG is apparently seen by New Delhi as a sign of exclusion. Moreover, India believes that ‘the OEWG, established outside the CD with an unclear mandate and with the GA Rules of Procedure, may not lead to an inclusive process or productive outcomes’.

Nuclear disarmament open-ended working group (3)

This blog contain comments made by ILPI (Dr. juris Gro Nystuen) during the Open-ended Working Group meeting in Geneva on 22 February 2016.


I would like to thank the Chair, Ambassador Thani, for inviting me to participate in this panel. I am grateful for this opportunity to address the Open-Ended Working Group.
As the title suggests: my approach to this is that of international law – in 2014, we at ILPI produced a book entitled Nuclear Weapons under International Law, which maps existing international law relevant to nuclear weapons.

Nuclear disarmament open-ended working group (2)

This blog and an earlier one contain comments made by UNIDIR (Tim Caughley) on UNIDIR paper OEWG Brief No. 2 during the Open-ended Working Group meeting in Geneva on 22 February 2016.


After noting some confusion and overlap in the nuclear disarmament debate, the remaining comments were about possible approaches to nuclear disarmament (in the context of the guiding questions posed by the Chair in A/AC.286/WP.3).