The open-ended working group to develop proposals to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations for the achievement and maintenance of a world without nuclear weapons (or OEWG on nuclear disarmament) was established in 2012 under United Nations General Assembly resolution A/RES/67/56. It will meet for fifteen days over the course of May, June and August 2013 and report to the General Assembly’s First Committee in October.

Along with the Oslo Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, the OEWG on nuclear disarmament is significant in the way that it has proceeded despite a boycott organized by the P5 nuclear-armed states.

Article 36’s Director, Thomas Nash, participated in the OEWG panel discussion covering initiatives on nuclear disarmament on 16 May. Nash provided a summary of the key arguments set out in the ‘Banning nuclear weapons’ report published by Article 36 prior to the Oslo Conference in March. The other presentation on the panel, by Jarmo Sareva, Director of the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs in Geneva, set out the UN Secretary General’s 5-point plan and his subsequent speech to the Monterrey Institute in January 2013.

The subsequent discussion amongst states was substantial and interactive, certainly in comparison to other discussions on nuclear weapons issues in Geneva. The majority of the comments and questions engaged with the strategy of developing a new international treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons. Particularly active in this regard were states with extended nuclear deterrence agreements including Australia, Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands. These states raised a number of questions about the feasibility, relevance and effectiveness of a new treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons. Their direct engagement on this strategy served to consolidate the ongoing reframing effort being promoted by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons around the humanitarian consequences of and future prohibition on nuclear weapons.

 

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