Abolition 2000

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News-February 2011

Abolition 2000 Update

Progress and actions for the global abolition of nuclear weapons

CONTENTS:

  1. UN Calls for a Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC)
  2. Youth gather 20 million signatures for nuclear abolition
  3. Parliaments support UN Plan for nuclear weapons treaty
  4. Over 500 Order of Canada recipients call for a NWC
  5. Order of Australia initiative
  6. An Ottawa Process for Nukes?
  7. Japan and Brazil support NWC in the Conference on Disarmament
  8. Nobel Peace Laureates launch nuclear abolition initiative
  9. UNIDIR Special Issue on nuclear disarmament and civil society
  10. A2000 letter to President Obama on de-alerting of nuclear arsenals
  11. Video contest – Imagining the World Without Nuclear Weapons
  12. Nuclear weapons – at what cost?
  13. Upcoming events:
    a. March 1 – Anniversary of Bravo nuclear test
    b. DC Days – April 3-6
    c.  Global Day of Action Against Military Spending – April 12
    d. Chernobyl Day – April 26

1.  United Nations resolution calling for a Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC)

On 8 December 2010, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution A/RES/65/76 (133 in favour, 28 opposing and 23 abstentions) calling on governments to commence multi-lateral negotiations leading to the conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention. Supporting countries included some of those possessing nuclear weapons (China, India, North Korea and Pakistan – see voting record).

A number of countries which had previously opposed or abstained on a similar resolution in previous years, changed their vote in a positive direction possibly influenced by Abolition 2000 inspired actions including parliamentary questions to Foreign Ministers and a letter to governments from the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms signed by notable lawyers and jurists including Judge C.G. Weeramantry former Vice-President of the International Court of Justice.

For more information see Momentum toward a nuclear weapons convention or framework of agreements.

2. Youth gather 20 million signatures for nuclear abolition

On October 4, 2010 the Youth Section of Religions for Peace presented a petition to UN High Representative for Disarmament Sergio Duarte calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons – signed by 20,102,746 people from around the world. The petition, launched in November 2009 as part of the Arms Down Campaign for Shared Security, also calls for a reallocation of 10% of global military spending towards meeting the UN Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

3.  Parliaments support UN Secretary-General’s Five-Point Plan (including a NWC)

In October 2008, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a Five-Point-Plan for Nuclear Disarmament including a call for negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention of package of agreements to eliminate nuclear weapons. Ban Ki-moon also sent a letter to every parliament highlighting the vital role of parliamentarians to ensure progress on nuclear disarmament – especially at the forthcoming NPT Review Conference – and commending the work of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament (PNND).

PNND launched a campaign of support resulting in resolutions being adopted in the European Parliament; the national parliaments of Austria, Bangladesh, Canada, Costa Rica, Germany, Italy, New Zealand and Norway; and the Inter-Parliamentary Union which represents 152 parliaments (including France, Russia and the United Kingdom).

PNND members also promoted the UNSG’s Five-Point-Plan at the 2010 NPT Review Conference including through a high-level panel of parliamentarians with the UNSG, and parliamentary letters to key governments including from Senators of France, the country most resisting the nuclear disarmament proposals. In the end, the NPT Review Conference referred to the UNSG’s plan and the NWC in the action section of the final agreed document. See NPT supports framework for nuclear disarmament.

Photo: Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament panel at the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in the United Nations promoting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Five-Point-Plan including a Nuclear Weapons Convention

4.  Over 500 Order of Canada recipients call for a NWC

Over 500 recipients of the Order of Canada, the highest civilian award in the country, have now endorsed an appeal calling for negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention. The Order of Canada appeal, initiated by Murray Thomson and Doug Roche, was sent to US President Obama and presented to Canadian Prime Minister the Right Honourable Stephen Harper by Mr. Michael Ignatieff, Leader of the Opposition; Hon. Gilles Duceppe, Leader of Bloc Québécois; and Hon. Jack Layton, Leader, New Democratic Party of Canada. It was subsequently acknowledged in resolutions adopted unanimously in the Canadian Senate on and the Canadian House of Commons on 7 December 2010 calling on the Government of Canada to engage in negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention as proposed by the UN Secretary-General (See Order of Canada Recipients Demand Worldwide Ban on Nuclear Weapons, Embassy).

5.  Order of Australia initiative

Recipients of the Order of Australia are being invited to sign a short statement urging the Australian government to adopt a nuclear-free defence posture and to advance negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention. This initiative is modeled on the successful campaign in Canada (see Over 500 Order of Canada recipients call for a NWC above). Among the Australian signatories to date are former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, former foreign minister Gareth Evans and bestselling author Bryce Courtenay. A complete list of signatories is available at www.nuclearweaponsconvention.org.au.

6.  An Ottawa Process for Nukes?

In 1996, Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy invited ‘like-minded States’ to meet in Ottawa to draft a treaty banning landmines—bypassing negotiations on a more limited landmines control regime that were bogged down in Geneva. The “Ottawa” Process achieved a landmines treaty in just over a year. Ten years later a similar process starting in Oslo achieved an international treaty banning cluster munitions, also in a relatively short time.

An Ottawa Process for Nukes (published in Canada’s Foreign Policy Weekly Embassy, 10 November 2010), explores the possibility of an Ottawa-type process for nuclear weapons. The idea for a group of like-minded governments starting a Preparatory Process for a Nuclear Weapons Convention was floated by the Middle Powers Initiative at the 2010 NPT Review Conference and gained traction in the final document agreed by all NPT States which emphasized that international humanitarian law applies to nuclear weapons.

The application of IHL to nuclear weapons opens up the possibility for States to start a prohibition process—regardless of whether or not the NWS join in the beginning or are forced by the gathering momentum to join later. Such a process could include like-minded states negotiating a treaty prohibiting and criminalizing the threat and use of nuclear weapons, adding a protocol to the Statute of the International Criminal Court making it a crime under the statute to threaten or use nuclear weapons, and adopting national legislation prohibiting and criminalizing nuclear weapons—as New Zealand, Philippines, Austria and Mongolia have already done.

7.  Japan and Brazil support NWC in the Conference on Disarmament

The First Session of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) opened on 24 January and will run until 1 April. The CD was established as a multi-lateral forum for negotiating disarmament treaties, but has been unable to undertake any negotiations since the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was completed in 1996. CD President Ambassador Marius Grinius of Canada summarized the disagreements that continue to block progress, and gave no indication of how these blocks could be overcome. However, there were positive indications of a strengthening of political will for progress in the speeches of Japan and Brazil.

Ambassador Aiko Suda of Japan noted that substantive work should be undertaken on key items even if there is not absolute consensus to start negotiations. He also noted that Japan was ready to participate in discussions on how a multi-lateral nuclear disarmament framework of nuclear weapons convention should look. Ambassador Luiz Filipe de Macedo Soares of Brazil went one step further by calling for a subsidiary body convened by the CD President to negotiate a treaty banning nuclear weapons.

8.  Nobel Peace Laureates launch nuclear abolition initiative

The 11th Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, meeting in Hiroshima from 12-14 November, released a Declaration paying tribute to the atomic bomb survivors who have dedicated their lives to the campaign for nuclear disarmament, and calling for a universal treaty to abolish nuclear weapons.

Nobel Peace Laureates the Dalai Lama, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Fredrik de Klerk, Jodi Williams, Shirin Ebadi and a number of Nobel Laureate organizations (see Summit Participants) joined in the declaration which notes that “Nuclear weapons cannot be dis-invented, but they can and must be outlawed, just as chemical and biological weapons, landmines and cluster munitions have been declared illegal.”  The Summit also established an action group of Nobel Peace Laureates to follow-up on the issues and proposals in the Declaration.

The Peace Summit also gave special awards to the Japan Confederation of Atomic and Hydrogen Bomb Sufferers Organizations and to Roberto Baggio, an Italian football legend who has worked tirelessly to help fund money for hospitals, earthquake victims and curing world diseases. The Summit also celebrated the release from house arrest of fellow Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi on 13 November, and called on the government of China to release 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo.

For more information see: Nobel Peace Summit website.

Photo: Hiroshima Mayor Tadashi Akiba, Nobel laureates Jodi Williams and Mairead Maguire and NWC expert Alyn Ware speaking at the Nobel Peace Laureates Summit in Hiroshima

9.  UNIDIR Special Issue on nuclear disarmament and civil society

The latest issue of the Disarmament Forum, published by UNIDIR (United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research) is a special issue on Civil society and nuclear disarmament. Contents include:

10.  A2000 letter to President Obama on de-alerting of nuclear arsenals

In November 2010 the A2000 Global Council sent a letter to President Obama expressing concern about the many thousands of nuclear weapons which remain on high-alert launch-ready status, and calling for a Presidential Decree abandoning the launch-on-warning policy and de-alerting all remaining launch-ready nuclear forces.   The letter was sent following the adoption of United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/RES/65/71 which “calls upon the nuclear-weapon States to take measures to reduce the risk of an accidental or unauthorized launch of nuclear weapons and to also consider further reducing the operational status of nuclear weapons systems in ways that promote international stability and security.”

11.  Video contest – Imagining the World Without Nuclear Weapons

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation invites you to make a video of three minutes or less addressing the following question: How would the world look if the funds allocated to nuclear weapons throughout the Nuclear Age ($7.5 trillion for the US alone) had been spent instead on building a more decent world? First prize is $1000. Second prize $250. Third prize $100. Entries close on April 1, 2011. For more information see Swackhamer Disarmament Video Contest or contact Rick Wayman.

12.  Nuclear Weapons – at what cost?

Nuclear weapons were supposed to provide ‘more bang for the buck (US dollar)’. The facts, expertly researched and presented by Ben Cramer in the book Nuclear Weapons: At What Cost, demonstrate the opposite. Military expenditures have increased in every country ‘joining the nuclear club’. The nine nuclear weapon States collectively spend about US$90 billion annually on nuclear weapons programmes. This is about 8% of the global military budget – or about the amount required to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals of ending hunger; providing universal primary education; reducing child and maternal mortality by 2/3rds, ensuring environmental sustainability (including combating climate change), achieving greater gender equity, and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other major diseases.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his five-point plan for nuclear disarmament, lists this opportunity cost of nuclear weapons as an important point in building the political momentum for disarmament. The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has produced a chart on what could be accomplished globally with the annual $55 billion the U.S. spends on nuclear weapons.

In February 2010, US President Obama requested an increase in funding for the US nuclear weapons complex (See Obama budget seeks 13.4 percent increase for National Nuclear Security Administration). According to a November 2010 White House Fact Sheet An Enduring Commitment to the U.S. Nuclear Deterrent, the US Administration’s plan “to invest more than $85 billion over the next decade to modernize the U.S. nuclear weapons complex.. [is a] level of funding unprecedented since the end of the Cold War.” According to some analysts this additional funding ‘was the price exacted by the U.S. military-industrial complex and its representatives in the Senate for Senate ratification of the new START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) on December 22, 2010’ (See START: One Small Step for Arms Control, One Giant Leap Backward for Disarmament?).

US Rep Ed Markey and a number of other Congress members sent a letter to the House Appropriations Sub-committee criticizing specific aspects of the funding request, including the increase in funding requested for the production of plutonium pits and uranium processing that could be used to manufacture new nuclear warheads, and the decrease in funding requested for warhead dismantlement. Markey and the co-authors argued that the government should prioritise nuclear security funding for warhead dismantlement and stockpile reduction to support multilateral disarmament, rather than the modernization and production of warheads which are a stimulus to proliferation (See US nuclear security budget- more or less for disarmament!)

13. Upcoming events:

a.  March 1 – Anniversary of Bravo nuclear test

1 March 2011 is the 57th anniversary of the Bravo nuclear test, the first thermonuclear device tested by the United States (see video clip of Bravo explosion). The blast, approximately 15 megatons in size, took place in Bikini Atoll (Marshall Islands in the Pacific) contaminating surrounding islands (up to 200 km away) and a Japanese fishing vessel which was about 130 km away. As a result, Marshall Islanders have experienced severe health effects including cancers, deformed babies, high rates of miscarriages and still-births and other radiation related diseases. March 1 is commemorated around the world as a day of opposition to nuclear tests and of support for a nuclear-weapons-free world.

b.  DC Days – April 3-6

The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability will be bringing anti-nuclear activists from around the United States to Washington DC from April 3-6 to campaign for nuclear disarmament. DC Days will include a focus on the nuclear weapons budget – especially opposing the funds being spent on nuclear modernization. Activists will deliver some “Nuclear Reality Check$” to Congress and the Obama Administration. For more information contact: kfuchs@ananuclear.org

c.  Global Day of Action Against Military Spending – April 12

The International Peace Bureau and the Institute for Policy Studies have joined together to organize a Global Day of Action Against Military Spending on April 12 – to coincide with the release  of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s annual report, which includes the latest new figures on military expenditures around the world. Click here to find an event in your city to support or organize your own event using the organizer’s packet.

d.  Chernobyl Day – April 26

In the early hours of 26 April 1986 one of the four reactors at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, just north of Kiev, exploded.  The meltdown was the worst nuclear accident ever. Thousands have died as a result and millions have had their health severely affected. Alexei Yablokov from the Russian Academy of Sciences reports that “Prior to 1985 more than 80% of children in the Chernobyl territories of Belarus, Ukraine, and European Russia were healthy; today fewer than 20% are well. In the heavily contaminated areas it is difficult to find one healthy child.”  (See Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment, New York Academy of Sciences, Boston, Massachusetts 2009). This year marks the 25th anniversary of the accident with many organisations planning commemorative events. For more information see Chernobyl Day (Greenpeace) or contact the Abolition 2000 Nuclear Energy Working Group or the Radiation Health Effects Working Group.

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Abolition 2000 Update is a regular update of progress and actions for a global treaty to abolish nuclear weapons. Please send any items for inclusion in the next update to alyn@lcnp.org

For further information about Abolition 2000 and our activities see www.abolition2000.org or contact:

Manuel Padilla
Abolition 2000 Global Office
C/- Pax Christi
1225 Otis St. NE, Washington, DC 20017, USA
Phone: +1 202-635-2757 ext 118
Fax: 202-832-9494
manuel@paxchristiusa.org

Alyn Ware or Mayra Gomez (A2000 Global Coordinating Committee)
Abolition 2000
Aotearoa-New Zealand PO Box 24-429, Manners Street Wellington,
Aotearoa-New Zealand
Phone: +64 4 496-9629
Fax +64 4 496-9599
alyn@lcnp.org  or mayra@pnnd.org