Last week, United for Peace and Justice had an active presence at the historic United Nations conference to negotiate a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons. The conference was mandated by a UN General Assembly resolution adopted in December of last year, to hold “a United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination” in 2017. Advocates of the ban treaty hope to achieve an impact similar to that of the Mine Ban Treaty – that is, to stigmatize the weapons, even among possessor states that don’t join the treaty, as a step towards their eventual elimination. (In 1997, 80% of the world’s countries negotiated a treaty aimed at eliminating anti-personnel land mines around the world, without the participation of the main offenders.) In 2016, 113 of the 193 members of the UN voted in favor of holding the nuclear ban treaty negotiations and even more participated during the first week of the negotiations.
At the outset, none of the nuclear-armed states are participating in the negotiations. On Monday, the opening day, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley held a widely-covered press briefing outside the conference hall. Flanked by nuclear allies including the U.K. and France, and claiming to represent almost 40 UN member states, Haley announced that they will be boycotting the negotiations. The absence of the U.S. and the other nuclear-armed states didn’t deter more than 130 countries, as well as United for Peace and Justice and our international NGO (non-governmental organization) colleagues, from fully participating in the conference. On day one, when the “U.S., Russia, Britain, China, and their minions walked out of the UN,” NYC War Resisters League hosted a vigil across the street from the UN, at the Isaiah Wall, and marched to the UN Mission to the United Nations to demand total disarmament.
On the third day of the conference, UFPJ National Co-convener Jackie Cabasso, was among the dozen NGO representatives who addressed the conference on behalf of civil society. In her comments to the delegates, Jackie cited a new International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms paper, Selected Elements of a Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons, and its recommendations for the treaty to achieve the following three 3 points:
- Affirm the illegality of use of nuclear weapons under existing international law
- Affirm the illegality of the threat of use of nuclear weapons under the United Nations Charter and International Humanitarian Law
- Recognize that the prohibition treaty as a step toward comprehensive nuclear disarmament; a nuclear weapons convention
You can view Jackie making her comments on preambular elements of the prohibition treaty on UN web tv at 19:30 in the following video.
Jackie Cabasso is Executive Director of Western States Legal Foundation and a founder of Abolition 2000 Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons, which was recently nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. She also serves as the North American Coordinator for Mayors for Peace and during the week’s negotiations was coordinating with the Mayors for Peace delegation at the UN, including Des Moines, Iowa Mayor Frank Cownie, lead U.S. Mayors for Peace city.
UFPJ’s communications and organizing coordinator, Matt De Vlieger was also present for the meetings. He helped contribute to a statement that was delivered on behalf of Amplify: Generation of Change, an international youth network for the abolition of nuclear weapons. The statement was made by Anna Ikeda of Soka Gakkai International who serves on Amplify’s steering committee with Matt and other international nuclear-abolition youth leaders. Amplify is currently accepting applications for their second International Youth Summit, which is planned to coincide with the next session of the nuclear ban treaty negotiations at the UN Headquarters in New York in June.
If you follow our campaigns, you know that we’re constantly working out front and behind-the-scenes for the total elimination of nuclear weapons – asap! Just over a month ago, on February 14, Jackie traveled to Mexico City to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Tlatelolco to hand deliver a petition congratulating Latin American and Caribbean leaders on the success of the nuclear-free zone- a first of its kind.
For the past month, UFPJ has promoted the movement-wide petition in support of legislation requiring Congressional authorization for President Trump, or any successor, to unilaterally start a nuclear war. The petition drive aims at collecting half a million signatures for delivery in early May. If you haven’t already done so,please sign now.
We will continue to advocate and lobby when the ban treaty negotiations resumeJune 15 – July 7, and update you from the United Nations on the process and outcomes of the negotiations. (For comprehensive reporting on the ban treaty negotiations visit Reaching Critical Will.) And please plan to join the June 17 Women’s March to Ban the Bomb in New York City and sister marches.
If you appreciate UFPJ’s continued campaign to build a world free from nuclear weapons, please make a monthly contribution of $5 to support this work.
In 2003, Jackie Cabasso established UFPJ’s Nuclear Disarmament/Redefining Security working group, which addresses nuclear disarmament in the context of demilitarization, war prevention, and justice. It is UFPJ’s longest running working group.