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Ban treaty proposal submitted to the UN Open Ended Working Group
Ira Helfand, MD
May 3, 2016
A group of nations submitted a formal working paper to the United Nations Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) requesting that the UN General Assembly convene a conference in 2017 to negotiate a nuclear weapons ban treaty. The proposal was submitted by this group: Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico and Zambia. Notably, this group is led by a number of countries, notably Brazil and Indonesia, whose strong advocacy represents a major evolution of their position on a Ban Treaty. The whole initiative represents important growth of the leadership of this international movement beyond Austria, Mexico, South Africa, and Ireland which have been the key leaders until now.
The OEWG is likely to submit a list of proposals to the UN General Assembly in the fall--rather than picking just one--and it will be up to the General Assembly to vote then on whether or not to implement this proposal for a Ban Treaty negotiating conference next year. Given the overwhelming support for a ban treaty it is probable that this will happen.
So,this is very good news indeed and it appears that we are moving very towards a Ban Treaty, which means it is time for us in PSR to start thinking more about how we take advantage of this development to influence policy in the US. Certainly this can be an important argument in our efforts to block the planned U.S. trillion dollar spending spree and we also need to think about how we raise the need for the US to accept and support this treaty and commit to negotiations for a Nuclear Weapons Convention to actually eliminate the weapons.