Civil society played a key role in the success of the UN deliberations on nuclear disarmament in Geneva from May 2-13. There is now strong momentum for the start in 2017 of multi-lateral negotiations for nuclear disarmament – something which has been blocked for nearly 20 years.
UNFOLD ZERO representatives and partner organisations were active in Geneva and around the world encouraging governments to use the opportunity of the Open Ended Working Group on nuclear disarmament to take concrete action to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world.
UNFOLD ZERO called on those countries reliant on nuclear weapons to relinquish nuclear deterrence policies – as most other countries in the world have already done – in order to be able to join nuclear abolition negotiations. UNFOLD ZERO highlighted common security approaches and mechanisms – such as those available through the United Nations – as being less destabilizing, less threatening and more suitable for the 21st Century than the reliance on annihilation of other countries with nuclear weapons.
UNFOLD ZERO called on non-nuclear countries to take action to prohibit nuclear weapons – nationally, regionally and internationally – without waiting for the nuclear reliant countries.
And UNFOLD ZERO called on non-nuclear and nuclear reliant countries to talk with each other, and with civil society, about how to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world.
In January, UNFOLD ZERO ran a competition for the best action idea to support the OEWG. The prize, won by Heather Wokusch from Austria/USA, was a trip to Geneva to participate in the OEWG, plus assistance by UNFOLD ZERO to turn the idea into an action. The result was #LetsTalkNukes a social media platform to encourage public dialogue about nuclear weapons and nuclear disarmament. Using the hashtag #LetsTalkNukes, people around the world could discuss nuclear weapons issues, ask questions of their government representatives in Geneva, and follow the OEWG deliberations.
On April 17, UNFOLD ZERO hosted a webinar about the OEWG. Open to people around the world, the webinar included three experts discussing with webinar participants the upcoming OEWG and related issues on nuclear policies and nuclear disarmament. Click here to Watch the recording of the webinar. This was the first in a series of webinars on the OEWG and other international nuclear disarmament initiatives.
OEWG Round 2 – civil society briefing and strategy session
On Sunday May 8, UNFOLD ZERO hosted a briefing and strategy session open for all civil society representatives in Geneva. The session was held in the beautiful Maison de la Paix, hosted by the World Future Council and Right Livelihood Award Foundation – two of our partner organisations. The briefing included a review of working papers submitted to the OEWG, deliberations over the previous week, program for the upcoming week and what strategies civil society could employ to ensure success.
Presentations to the OEWG plenaries
On May 12, Heather Wokusch presented to the OEWG plenary on the issue of security doctrines and political will. She also reported on the #letsTalkNukes platform.
‘We ask the nuclear-reliant States – what measures are you taking to eliminate the role of nuclear weapons in your security doctrines? We encourage you to examine and implement security policies relying more deeply on common security approaches and mechanisms in order to eliminate the role of nuclear weapons and to provide better protection against the threat or use of force. These include the approaches outlined in the United Nations Charter for diplomacy, mediation, negotiation, arbitration, adjudication and use of regional bodies.’
Heather Wokusch, UNFOLD ZERO presentation to the OEWG plenary
A number of interventions to the OEWG were made by UNFOLD ZERO partner organisations including Mayors for Peace, Peace Depot proposing a ban on the use of nuclear weapons, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament on Global parliamentary support for Nuclear Disarmament Summits and multilateral negotiations, Basel Peace Office supporting a Framework agreement including an early prohibition on the use of nuclear weapons, International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms on a Legal instrument for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons and Middle Powers Initiative on A political framework agreement and on Nuclear disarmament summits.
UNFOLD ZERO side-event – building political will
On May 12, UNFOLD ZERO co-hosted with World Future Council and the Permanent Mission of Ecuador to the UN, a side-event on Global support and political will for nuclear disarmament. The event was held in the UN Council Chamber, the venue for the Conference on Disarmament which was established by the United Nations as the main multilateral negotiating body for disarmament. It was opened by
Mr Michael Møller (Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva), and included presentations by Bernard Norlain (Air Force General (ret) from France), Heather Wokush (Austria, #LetsTalkNukes), Thore Vestby (Norway, Vice-President, Mayors for Peace), Vinay Nayak (UK/USA, Youth outreach coordinator for the 2012 Obama re-election campaign), Alexandra Arce von Herold (Costa Rica. Youth Summit on Nuclear Abolition, Manuel Dengo (Chair of the 2013 Open Ended Working Group) and Meredith Horowski (Global Campaign Director for Global Zero).
Key working papers submitted to the OEWG from UNFOLD ZERO partner organisations include:
- NGO 5 Quest of Legal Measures with Specificity and Feasibility for Nuclear Disarmament, Peace Depot
- NGO 7 Building the Framework for a nuclear-weapon-free world; Basel Peace Office
- NGO 9 Open letter to the OEWG, Mayors for Peace
- NGO 11 Respond to the critical moment, Global Security Institute
- NGO 12 A legal instrument for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons, International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms
- NGO 13 Nuclear Risks, Human Survival Project and People for Nuclear Disarmament
- NGO 21 Nuclear disarmament summits, Middle Powers Initiative
- NGO 20 Options for a Framework Agreement, Middle Powers Initiative
- NGO 23 Options for moving forward on disarmament; Arms Control Association
- The contribution of domestic policies to advancing multilateral nuclear disarmament, World Future Council