Where are we on effective measures, and where are we going?

One positive outcome of the NPT Review Conference was the strengthened support for the humanitarian pledge. But what will this now lead to in terms of effective nuclear disarmament measures?

By John Borrie, Tim Caughley, Magnus Løvold and Torbjørn Graff Hugo

A month after the NPT Review Conference’s collapse, and on the cusp of the summer break in the Northern hemisphere, we consider the state of efforts on achieving further effective measures on nuclear disarmament.

No forums

Only evidence-based discussions can fill the legal gap in the international framework regulating nuclear weapons.

By Magnus Løvold

The Conference on Disarmament in Geneva received another nail in its coffin when its long-standing civil society rapporteur, the Reaching Critical Will project of WILPF, on Tuesday 10 March announced that they would “cease engagement” with the Conference until its 65 member states agree on a program of work.

Fill the legal gap—the latest endorsement

Renewing the call for prohibiting and eliminating nuclear weapons

By Tim Caughley

The build-up to next month’s five-yearly review of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) has already produced a number of headlines and statements of intent. From nations that do not possess nuclear weapons there has been a call to NPT state parties to ‘fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons’ (Austrian Pledge, 9 December 2014). The initiator of the call, Austria, has noted that while other categories of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) are banned—chemical and biological weapons—nuclear arms are not. For their part, the five state parties to the treaty that still maintain nuclear arsenals (the NPT5) have said that they merely anticipate a ‘consensual, balanced outcome which would do much to enhance [their] continuing efforts to strengthen the NPT’ (NPT5 Joint Statement, 6 February 2015).

2015: An end to speculation?

2015 looks to be a decisive year, not least for the humanitarian initiative. But what else is on the horizon?

By Magnus Løvold

In January 2014, the stage had already been set for the humanitarian initiative. Preparations for the Nayarit conference were in their final stages, and rumours about a follow-up conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons in Vienna had been all but confirmed by the Austrian Government’s 2013 – 2018 Work Programme. States and organizations working to promote a humanitarian approach to nuclear disarmament had a good idea of what 2014 would bring, and the remainder of the year was, according to one observer, “mere logistics and implementation”.