The perfect storm

The 71st United Nations General Assembly will provide a test of leadership over the future of a new initiative for nuclear disarmament

By Tim Caughley

‘Sadly, many countries continue to include nuclear deterrence in their security doctrines. But recent developments have shown that nuclear weapons do not ensure peace and security. Rather, their development and possession has become a major source of international tension.’

OEWG Observations

The Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) established late last year by the UNGA for ‘taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations’ recently concluded the second of its three 2016 sessions. Several aspects of its work warrant reflection as the dust settles.

By Tim Caughley

A feature of the most recent session of the OEWG was its refreshing inter-activity—at least, by comparison to the set-piece monologue of other forums in which nuclear disarmament is discussed such as the Conference on Disarmament (CD), the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), and United Nations Disarmament Commission (UNDC).

Nuclear disarmament open-ended working group (1)

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


I am not going to try to outline the features of OEWG Brief No. 2. Instead, and consistent with the Chair’s wish that the OEWG be as interactive as possible I will a try to identify [see next blog] what seem to me to be some pressure points deserving discussion in this forum. Before doing so, I have four general comments.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki: an unfulfilled legacy

Seventy years ago the Japanese city of Hiroshima was devastated by an atomic bomb causing huge loss of life and suffering that continues to this day. The same fate befell Nagasaki three days later.

By John Borrie, Tim Caughley and Magnus Løvold

Many cities were heavily bombed during the Second World War, not only in Japan, but Hiroshima and Nagasaki were alone in being the targets of single weapons of mass destruction—atomic, i.e., nuclear bombs.

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.

Nuclear realities: Worlds apart

The party politics of British nuclear electioneering and the diplomatic stratagems of global nuclear order seem to operate in entirely different worlds.

By Nick Ritchie

May 2015 saw the election of a Conservative majority government in the United Kingdom for the first time in 17 years and a fractious NPT Review Conference in New York that resulted in stalemate and recrimination over nuclear disarmament, and also on next steps towards a zone free of nuclear weapons and other WMD in the Middle East. The latter issue prevented the Review Conference reaching an outcome. What have these two developments—the Review Conference, and the British election—got to do with one another? Unfortunately, very little.