Disarmament Insight


Monday, 29 February 2016

Nuclear disarmament: New UNIDIR/ILPI Study

This study by UNIDIR and ILPI surveys the existing legal framework regulating nuclear weapons internationally, and assesses the scope and parameters of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), nuclear-weapon-free zones (NWFZ) and international humanitarian law (IHL). 

It considers whether a nuclear weapons prohibition or ban treaty—the most recent approach to attract attention in the nuclear disarmament debate—could enhance the current nuclear weapons control regime.

In an effort to situate the notion of a prohibition within the existing multilateral debate on how best to eliminate nuclear weapons, the study identifies and discusses four distinct, but not mutually exclusive, approaches:
 - A ‘comprehensive’ approach,
 - A ‘framework’ approach,
 - A ‘step-by-step’ or ‘building blocks’ approach, and
 - A prohibition or ban treaty.
The study addresses ambiguities and overlaps among these means for advancing nuclear disarmament.

The study also analyses legal provisions that could be covered in a prohibition. These might include prohibitions on use, development and testing, manufacturing and production, transfer, transit, stationing and deployment, possession and stockpiling, assistance in the commission of prohibited acts and inducement or encouragement. Additional provisions could establish obligations related to stockpile destruction, safeguards, transparency and reporting, other compliance mechanisms, cooperation and assistance as well as national implementation measures.

The study attracted considerable attention during the recent meetings of the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) on nuclear disarmament. As well as being available on line, hard copies can be obtained from UNIDIR in the Palais des Nations, room A516.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Nuclear Disarmament: OEWG

The 2016 Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) established by the United Nations General Assembly for the purpose of ‘taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations’ opened in Geneva on 22 February. The text of remarks made by UNIDIR during the opening session of the OEWG have been posted (in two parts) on the joint UNIDIR/ILPI website, ‘Effective Measures’. 

The links are:

The remarks were made by way of introduction to OEWG Brief no. 2, a paper prepared by UNIDIR as background for participants in the OEWG.

Tim Caughley
Resident Senior Fellow

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Nuclear disarmament: 2016 Open-ended Working Group

The 2016 Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) is the result of a resolution tabled in the First Committee of the seventieth United Nations General Assembly in October 2015. The resolution, entitled ‘Taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations’ (A/C.1/70/L.13/Rev.1), proposed the establishment of a working group open to participation by all United Nations Member States. Participation is also open to international organisations and civil society representatives.

In a vote in the First Committee, the resolution passed by 135 in favour, to 12 against, with 33 abstentions. In the subsequent vote by the General Assembly itself, 138 votes were cast in support of the resolution (A/RES/70/33) with 12 against. There were 34 abstentions. The OEWG is meeting in Geneva for a total of 15 days during the period 22 February to 24 August under the likely chairmanship of Ambassador Thani Thongphakdi of Thailand.

OEWG Brief no. 2, a paper prepared by UNIDIR as background for participants in the OEWG, can be found on UNIDIR's website

That paper surveys the nuclear disarmament landscape and updates an earlier publication that UNIDIR prepared for an OEWG that met in 2013.

Tim Caughley
Resident Senior Fellow