Disarmament: Part II: The Obstacle Course

Hiroshima: a weapon-test that worked.

Blog 201: Part II

In the light of global governments’ incompetence in creating and coping with the crises of nuclear war, pandemic and climate/environment, improved outcomes from governmental decision-making are urgently required. Perhaps nations should consider arranging constitutional conventions. It is notable that a country high on the ‘Goodness Index’ is Ireland Ireland It stands out from other EU countries by being party to the TPNW, refusing to join NATO and insisting on its neutrality. Ireland’s recent and highly successful constitutional convention serves as a model for such conventions to be held elsewhere.

Absent such a convention, our Minister for Disarmament has just got to accept the deal that culture and history have dealt him and try as best he might to get on with the enormous task in hand. While his colleagues get on with disentangling NZ from the US alliance, he needs to plan and embark on a major diplomatic campaign and a parallel enhancement of NZ’s diplomatic capabilities.

 The starting point of any such campaign has to be those forty-nine nations that have joined NZ in becoming fellow parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW.) The first task will to be to ensure that these parties continue to adhere to the treaty in the face of threats and blandishments issuing from Washington and (to a lesser extent) Moscow.  At the same time NZ must support the establishment of a firm organisational foundation for the Treaty on which to build future growth. In this NZ will not be alone and can anticipate the cooperation of the UN, international NGOs and other parties such as Ireland, with well-established diplomatic capabilities.

There will be practical difficulties to overcome the most obvious of which is funding. Though only the ratifiers can be expected to contribute from within their often extremely limited means, it could be that other contributions can be derived from such as China, with its current drive to demonstrate responsible global citizenship. Another potential patron would be Japan which, having been a victim of nuclear war, remains only slightly less committed to nuclear disarmament than it is to the reluctantly accepted shelter purportedly offered it by the US nuclear umbrella.

At this point it makes sense to insert some wise words of caution from Bob Rigg, who was involved in setting up the machinery for the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

“The fiftieth ratification of the TPNW is a cause for muted celebration but…A great majority of the Convention’s Member States will not be financially able to contribute meaningfully to the funding of a new organisation. The mostly very powerful and well-resourced declared and undeclared nuclear states will do everything in their power to undermine it and to compromise its credibility.

I became a staff member of the Provisional Technical Secretariat of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in 1993, some years before the 65 signatures required to trigger the entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention had been deposited.

But it was only at the last minute that the US and Russia, the two major CW possessors, deposited their instruments of ratification. We all understood full well that, if they did not ratify, even though the legal precondition for the entry into force of the CWC had been fulfilled, the CWC would implode, the Provisional Technical Secretariat would run out of funds, and the initiative would evaporate as though it had never existed.

Initial enthusiasm for the current state of the Treaty would be dampened by an analysis of its signatories and those who ratified it. This is not a wealthy constituency. Of the fifty ratifying nations, only nine fall within the first fifty on the Human Development Index and in total their population is just 933 million (14% of humanity.) Of the thirty-four nations which signed, but have yet to ratify, only five fall within the top fifty of the HDI. Their total population amounts to 1.23 billion or about 17% of the world population.

To give any degree of psychological comfort that this treaty has the potential to justify hope that existing nuclear powers will ultimately be persuaded to abandon their warheads, NZ should be looking to at least double the number of parties to the Treaty. A majority of nations as parties, even if still not representing a majority of the global population, would find it easier to stigmatise the possession of nuclear weapons in the eyes of public opinion in nuclear armed or reliant states. In such states, confidence in continuing their nuclear business as usual would fall in lockstep with the rise in public opposition.

The low-hanging fruit and first to be approached should be those nations that have signed but not ratified – and then another 16 nations beyond that. 

Footnote:- An interview with Katsuya Okada , who served as the Japanese Foreign Minister between 2009 and 2010 when the erstwhile Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) formed the administration for the first time in its history. Okada

“The Ban Treaty can work only partially without the approval of the nuclear weapons states. Nevertheless, the very fact that the treaty was adopted by a large number of nations has created pressure on the nuclear weapons states. It is not easy for Japan to decide its position as a nation that is protected by the nuclear weapons of the United States. Nevertheless, I am worried that nations may begin to neglect an incompetent Japan in the international trend towards nuclear disarmament.”

Part III of this blog will outline a plan for the ultimate achievement of collective security and the nuclear disarmament of all nations.

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One thought on “Disarmament: Part II: The Obstacle Course

  1. Laurie Ross says:

    It is helpful to remember that 122 nations agreed at the UN to the Treaty for Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons July 2017. Now that 50 states have ratified and the TPNW will become International Law 22 January 2021 it is hopeful that the remaining 72 nations will persevere to complete their process of signing and ratification.
    This would leave only 70 states out of the 192 UN member nations who remain resistant. However, only 9 are nuclear weapon states, 5 host nuclear weapons and 23 are in nuclear alliances. This means only 37 are entrenched in the nuclear warfare regime.
    Thus, the remaining 55 nations could easily be encouraged to join the TPNW to make an overwhelming majority of 155 nations rejecting nuclear weapons and war.

    The major goal is STIGMATISATION of nuclear weapons as ‘no longer cool’ and as an unacceptable manifestation of power or investment. The international community of nation states demonstrating collective political disapproval confers ‘negative status’ on nuclear weapon state holders, producers and supporters.
    It is likely to result in nuclear weapon states reducing nuclear weaponry rather than flaunting it, although they will not join the TPNW, they will want to ‘look good and reinforce their leadership power’ by initiating the Nuclear Weapons Convention for elimination of nuclear weapons, via the platform established for disarmament in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968 through which they exercise control on their own terms.
    Their major concern is to maintain power and they will now be able to do that using other technological means and weaponry, without nuclear weapons.

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