Treaty Would Pave Way to Eliminating Only Unbanned Weapon of Mass Destruction, Civil Society Groups Tell Conference Negotiating Legally Binding Instrument

DC/3722
6 July 2017
Conference on Nuclear Weapons, 27th Meeting (AM)

Treaty Would Pave Way to Eliminating Only Unbanned Weapon of Mass Destruction, Civil Society Groups Tell Conference Negotiating Legally Binding Instrument

The draft treaty scheduled for adoption on 7 July would create a pathway for the elimination of the only weapon of mass destruction not yet subject to a global ban, members of civil society told the Conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons today.

They addressed the Conference as it met briefly this morning before breaking up into language groups for informal consultations to verify the accuracy of translated versions of the draft treaty, including minor changes approved on 5 July (documents A/CONF.229/2017/L.3 and A/CONF.229/2017/CRP.3).

Tim Wright of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons said the world was on the cusp of a truly historic moment — the international community declaring for the first time that nuclear weapons were both immoral and illegal.  There should be no doubt that the draft treaty would create a clear and categorical ban on the worst type of weapon of mass destruction, he emphasized.  By prohibiting nuclear weapons on humanitarian grounds, it would reject the claim that national interest took precedence over humanity.  “We are overwhelmingly positive about the draft treaty,” he said.  The Conference had achieved its objective — to outlaw nuclear weapons and provide a pathway to their total elimination.

The speaker representing International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War said the draft treaty had particular resonance for people and places that had experienced nuclear testing, including the Pacific islands.  Provisions addressing the need to assist the victims were vital to addressing the impact of nuclear weapons, particularly on women and children, she stressed.  While the text could have been improved, articles 6 and 7 were vital for those who continued to live with the environmental and health effects of nuclear testing.

Scott Ludlam, Senator from Australia, while emphasizing that he was not speaking on behalf of his country’s Government, said the treaty would change the way nuclear weapons were discussed around the world, including within those States that were not participating in the Conference.  For those returning home to nuclear-weapon States and allied countries, the work to convince their respective Governments that the treaty would represent the best chance for a world free of nuclear weapons had just begun, he noted.

Conference President Elayne Whyte Gómez (Costa Rica) said the draft treaty was designed to meet the international community’s expectations.  It was also in line with the General Assembly’s mandate to the Conference:  set a standard for banning nuclear arms, the only weapons of mass destruction not subject to a prohibition treaty.  She added that the treaty would create an institutional regime that would grow stronger in time, while adapting to new requirements.

The Conference will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 7 July, to adopt the draft treaty and conclude its work.

For information media. Not an official record.