(Formerly the Nuclear Weapons Convention Working Group. In 2019 this was broadened to address the relationship between a Nuclear Weapons Convention and the broader UN nuclear disarmament agenda, and to cooperate more closely with the affiliated initiative UNFOLD ZERO).
The Abolition 2000 founding statement calls on all countries to initiate ‘negotiations on a nuclear weapons abolition convention that requires the phased elimination of all nuclear weapons within a timebound framework, with provisions for effective verification and enforcement.’
The very first resolution of the United Nations, adopted by consensus, called for the elimination of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. The United Nations General Assembly has also adopted resolutions affirming the obligation to achieve comprehensive nuclear disarmament, has called for this obligation to be fulfilled through the negotiation of a nuclear weapons convention, and has established the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons to build public awareness and political momentum to achieving this goal.
This working group promotes United Nations initiatives and processes for achievement of comprehensive nuclear disarmament with a focus on achieving a Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC).
The group has helped build global support for a NWC from governments, parliaments and civil society.
This has included drafting and promotion of a UN General Assembly resolution (entitled Follow-up to the International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on the Legality of the Threat and Use of Nuclear Weapons) which is adopted annually, and which has the support of over 130 countries including four nuclear-armed countries.The resolution calls upon all States to fulfill the nuclear disarmament obligation affirmed in the ICJ decision ‘… by commencing multilateral negotiations leading to an early conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention prohibiting the development, production, testing, deployment, stockpiling, transfer, threat or use of nuclear weapons and providing for their elimination.’ Click here for the text and voting record of the 2016 version of this resolution.
The working group worked with Ban Ki-moon during his term as UN Secretary-General to prepare and promote a Five-Point Proposal for Nuclear Disarmament, the principal call of which was for negotiations on a NWC.
In May 2010, the States Parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (which includes China, France, Russia, the UK and the USA) for the first time ever, agreed that all States should make special efforts to build the framework for a nuclear-weapons-free world, noting the UNSG’s plan and the nuclear weapons convention. This was achieved by intense lobbying by Abolition 2000 members and affiliated networks.
Over 8000 cities joined the Mayors for Peace call for a nuclear weapons convention by 2020. Over 2 million individuals signed the Mayors for Peace petition for a nuclear weapons convention.
In March 2014, the Inter Parliamentary Union (representing 170 parliaments including those of most of the nuclear-armed States and States under extended nuclear deterrence) adopted by consensus a landmark resolution calling on governments to commence negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention or package of agreements.
And every year since 2013, the President of the United Nations General Assembly has hosted a High Level Meeting on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons with a primary purpose to advance “the urgent commencement of negotiations on effective nuclear disarmament measures to achieve the total elimination of nuclear weapons, including, in particular, on a comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons.”
Model Nuclear Weapons Convention
A Model NWC, drafted by working group members and other experts, has been circulated by the United Nations. The aim of the Model NWC is to demonstrate the feasibility of the elimination of nuclear weapons through consideration of the technical, legal and political requirements for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. It is intended to stimulate negotiations by States on the elimination of nuclear weapons, and to provide guidance and focus for such negotiations. In addition, establishing a framework for the elimination of nuclear weapons, will assist in achieving steps towards that goal.
The book Security and Survival: The Case for a Nuclear Weapons Convention contains the Model NWC plus discussion on achievement of a NWC. This was updated in 2007 and published with a slightly different title Securing our Survival: The Case for a Nuclear Weapons Convention, along with an updated version of the Model NWC (available in ARABIC, CHINESE , ENGLISH, FRENCH, GERMAN, JAPANESE, RUSSIAN and SPANISH).
Nuclear weapons convention and the Ban Treaty
On July 7, 2017, a group of non-nuclear countries adopted a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (Ban Treaty) which prohibits the threat, use, development and possession of nuclear weapons by States parties. None of the nuclear-armed countries or the countries under extended nuclear deterrence relationships support the treaty, which means that it does not apply to them. Never-the-less the adoption of the treaty demonstrates a common desire of the non-nuclear States to achieve a global prohibition of nuclear weapons, and it could give some stimulus to the nuclear-reliant states to begin negotiations on an NWC.
NWC Reset: Frameworks for a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World
In January 2022, the working group launched a new project entitled NWC Reset: Frameworks for a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World, with the objectives to:
a) explore the legal, technical and institutional measures that might be required to achieve the global elimination of nuclear weapons, drawing upon the Model Nuclear Weapons Convention and relevant existing mechanisms including the TPNW, CTBTO, IAEA etc;
b) examine the role of the NWC approach (and other similar frameworks) to effectively engage nuclear armed and allied states in nuclear disarmament action.
The project includes a focus on the 10th Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, following-up in particular on the agreement in 2010 that: “All States need to make special efforts to establish the necessary framework to achieve and maintain a world without nuclear weapons. The Conference notes the Five-Point Proposal for Nuclear Disarmament of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, which proposes inter alia the consideration of negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention or a framework of separate mutually reinforcing instruments backed by a strong system of verification.”
In March 2022, the group finalised a working paper for the 10th NPT Review Conference entitled Abolition 2000 NWC Reset: Frameworks for a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World. The ideas and proposals in the working paper will be discussed at an event on April 20, 2022 entitled NWC Reset: Frameworks for a Nuclear-Weapon-Free-World.
In 2019, the working group has discussed the idea of establishing a new initiative The Liberation Day, proposed by ZonaLibre, which would prepare for the celebration of the global prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons. The project would also identify the key political and technical challenges to getting to Liberation Day, and how to overcome these. Some of the ideas in the proposal on preventing escalation to nuclear war are now being picked up by the Abolition 2000 working group on nuclear risk reduction and NoFirstUse Global. Some of the other ideas in the proposal are now being picked up by the NWC Reset initiative.
Working Group reports and publications
- Report of the Nuclear Weapons Convention working group May 2017
- Report on the Abolition 2000 Session on Achieving a Global Treaty to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, 11 October 2012
- Nuclear Weapons Convention Working Group 2004 Report
- Briefing paper on the Nuclear Weapons Convention
- Summary of the Model NWC
To join: If you are interested in joining the A2000 NWC Working Group send an email message to [email protected]
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