Update from the Abolition 2000 Working Group on the 2018 UN High-Level Conference.
The United Nations has decided to hold a High Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament in 2018 in order to enhance progress toward the achievement of a nuclear weapons convention – a global treaty to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons.
Similar UN High Level Conferences held over the past few years have been very successful, including the conference on Sustainable Development (2015) which achieved agreement on 17 Sustainable Development Goals; Climate Change (2015) which achieved the Paris Agreement; and Refugees and Migrants (2016) which achieved the New York Declaration.
Abolition 2000, at our Annual General Meeting in Vienna, established a working group to build civil society, parliamentary and government support for the 2018 UN High Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament, and to influence the agenda and ensure success of the High-Level Conference.
Here is an update on activities and developments since then.
1. The Ban Treaty and the UNHLC – side event at the ban treaty negotiations
On June 29, our working group held a side-event at the United Nations in New York on The Ban Treaty and the 2018 UN High Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament. The event, cosponsored by UNFOLD ZERO and PNND, was chaired by Dr Kate Dewes (former member of the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Affairs), and included Randy Rydell (Mayors for Peace), Bill Pace (World Federalist Movement) and myself as speakers. Two former UN High Level Representatives for Disarmament (Sergio Duarte and Angela Kane) participated and made interventions from the floor.
Key points from the discussion were that the UNHLC could provide a forum for promoting ratification of the ban treaty and its entry-into-force. In addition, the ban treaty could be used to put pressure on the nuclear armed and allied States to agree to concrete nuclear-risk reduction and disarmament measures at the UNHLC.
2. Cross-party letter from European parliamentarians promotes UNHLC
On 14 July, 50 parliamentarians from 13 European countries sent a letter to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Chair of the OSCE Minister Sebastian Kurz, urging these two key European security organizations to pursue dialogue, détente and nuclear risk reduction in Europe.
The letter also calls on them to ‘Support multilateral, treaty-based processes that can facilitate confidence building, nuclear risk-reduction and disarmament including through the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the 2018 United Nations High Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament.’ See European parliamentarians call on NATO and OSCE to reduce nuclear threats and support disarmament.
3. Abolition 2000 Youth Network promotes the UNHLC
The Abolition 2000 Youth working group met at the UN on June 20 to discuss plans to engage youth in key nuclear disarmament initiatives. The meeting involved youth representing Amplify, Basel Peace Office, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Global Security Institute, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament, Peace Action NY State, Religions for Peace, United for Peace and Justice, and UNFOLD ZERO.
The discussion included ideas on youth action and involvement in the 2018 UNHLC. These include:
- Youth sending video messages to their countries’ leaders, calling on them to participate in 2018 UNHLC and to adopt concrete nuclear disarmament measures at the conference. For non-nuclear States, this could be announcing their ratification of the ban treaty. For nuclear-armed and allied countries it could include adopting no-first use policies and announcing a framework to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world;
- Asking their mayors, parliamentarians and religious leaders to endorse the joint statement ‘A Nuclear-Weapon-Free World; Our Common Good’, organized by Religions for Peace, PNND and Mayors for Peace, and which is being used to build global support for UN initiatives such as the ban treaty and the UNHLC.
The Youth working group has also be discussing social media platforms and actions to promote the UNHLC, which could be done on Hiroshima/Nagasaki Days, Peace Day and the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. This includes using the hashtags #YouthAgainstNukes and #NukeFreeFuture, and possibly doing an action ‘Reach high for a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World’. (Reach high links with the high-level conference and reaching for substantive outcome for the conference).
4. Parliamentary Action Plan calls for parliamentary support for the ban treaty and UNHLC
On July 5, PNND held a press conference at the United Nations in New York at which they released a Parliamentary Action Plan for a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World.
The Action Plan, which was developed in cooperation with the Inter-Parliamentary Union, includes 14 actions for parliaments and parliamentarians to take, including support for the ban treaty and the UNHLC. The Plan calls on parliamentarians to ensure a successful UN High Level Conference in 2018 by encouraging their governments to participate at the highest level, initiating debates and parliamentary resolutions in support, and promoting key measures that could be adopted at the HLC.
5. Question in the UK House of Lords on the UNHLC
On July 4, Lord Judd asked a question in the UK House of Lords to ‘Her Majesty’s Government on what preparations they are making for their representation and participation at the 2018 UN High Level Conference on nuclear disarmament.’ The answer was given on July 19 by Baroness Goldie: ‘The Government firmly believes that the best way to achieve a world without nuclear weapons is through gradual multilateral disarmament negotiated using a step-by-step approach and within the framework of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. We will consider our approach to the 2018 UN High Level Conference closer to the time.
6. Plans/proposals for events and promotion
UNFOLD ZERO, in cooperation with the Abolition 2000 working group, is planning a round-table discussion in Geneva on the 2018 UNHLC in September and an international civil society conference on the 2018 UNHLC in New York in October (conducted mostly by webinars so that people anywhere in the world can participate). UNFOLD ZERO is also planning a global action on Sep26 (International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons) to promote the 2018 UNHLC.
Please contact us if you are planning an event to discuss/promote the UNHLC, or if you have any updates on support for the UNHLC.