The new Open-ended Working Group (OEWG), established in United Nations General Assembly Resolution 70/33 adopted in December 2015, opened on 22 February in Geneva. It will meet over the course of 15 working days in February, May and August of 2016 and submit a final report in October.
Finland joined the Antipersonnel (AP) Landmine Ban Treaty despite an overwhelming belief that their national defence doctrine depended upon the deployment of landmines, and the refusal of their neighbour Russia to participate. This decision appears to go against the core responsibility of government – to do all in its power to defend the territorial integrity of the state. But in fact, it reveals a more holistic sense of security, in which vital interests are seen as wrapped up in the wider interests of a strong and cohesive international community.
The official draft text of a treaty to ban nuclear weapons is likely to be published in the next two weeks (15-26 May). This timing has been determined by the intention to avoid distracting from the NPT PrepCom, drawing to a close on 11 May. Written by the Chair of the process, the draft will be considered by states at the next round of negotiations to be held at the UN headquarters in New York from 15 June-7 July. That leaves ban treaty proponents two weeks to lobby governments around the world and get their support.
BASIC hosted a series of workshops in 2015-16 throughout the United States and United Kingdom employing holistic and soft systems tools to frame discussions on nuclear security and non-proliferation with experts, young people and individuals less familiar with nuclear weapons from a variety of cultural backgrounds and levels of experience. We were seeking innovative, collaborative and future-focused approaches to escape the polarising traps that have characterised the public and political debate in the space up until now.
In this article for UPI, Rethinking Nuclear Weapons Project Director Ward Wilson counters the argument that we need nuclear weapons to provide us security in an increasingly dangerous world. He writes: "There are actually sound, pragmatic reasons to reject nuclear weapons. The ideas we use to guide us in thinking about nuclear weapons are actually wrong. The assumptions shared by most members of the nuclear community and that they have assiduously taught the rest of us for 70 years are muddled and mistaken.
BASIC's executive director, Paul Ingram, was quoted in this iNews article by Susie Coen about the world's number of nuclear weapons. While the reduction in numbers is a good thing, it is also a double-edged sword: “So while it is certainly to be welcomed that there are fewer warheads in the world this year than last, there are worrying dimensions beneath those figures that we need to be concerned about."