Fifty opinion leaders from the Asia–Pacific have said they believe the UN-mandated Draft Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, made public on 22 May 2017, marks an important milestone in the long campaign to ban the most indiscriminately inhumane weapons ever invented. Rooted in humanitarian principles, the draft text provides a good basis to complete negotiation of a treaty to prohibit unequivocally the acquisition, development, production, manufacture, possession, testing, transfer, extra-territorial stationing and use of nuclear weapons as major steps towards their eventual elimination. They note with regret that several countries in the Asia–Pacific are boycotting the ban negotiations. Participation in the negotiations would provide an opportunity for these countries to explain their position, set out their intentions for meeting their disarmament obligations and the practical considerations to be taken into account, and to influence the treaty text.
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Nuclear weapons ban treaty – APLN statement
We the undersigned APLN members welcome the Draft Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons submitted by the president of the UN conference tasked with negotiating this treaty (A/CONF.229/2017/CRP.1, 22 May 2017). We believe the draft marks an important milestone in the long campaign to ban the most indiscriminately inhumane weapons ever invented. Rooted in humanitarian principles, the draft text provides a good basis to complete negotiation of a treaty to prohibit unequivocally the acquisition, development, production, manufacture, possession, testing, transfer, extra-territorial stationing and use of nuclear weapons as major steps towards their eventual elimination.
While nuclear weapons exist, especially in the large numbers we still have today, there is an ongoing danger of nuclear war, whether by intention, accident, or rogue or terrorist action. These ban negotiations are a consequence of the strong concerns held by most countries that progress in nuclear arms reductions has stalled and the nuclear-weapon states are not taking seriously their obligation under the NPT to pursue and bring to a conclusion negotiations on nuclear disarmament.
Concerns about the attitude of the nuclear weapon states are reinforced by the fact these countries and their allies, including regrettably several countries in the Asia Pacific region, are boycotting the ban negotiations. Participation in the negotiations would provide an opportunity for these countries to explain their position, set out their intentions for meeting their disarmament obligations and the practical considerations to be taken into account, and to influence the treaty text. Participation by the nuclear-armed countries outside the NPT would be an opportunity for these countries to demonstrate willingness to affirm global nuclear norms of non-proliferation, non-use and no testing, and further to accept disarmament obligations similar to those of the NPT nuclear-weapon states.
Amongst the reasons given for not participating, the nuclear weapon states argued a ban treaty was unrealistic, would detract from practical step-by-step disarmament efforts, and would damage the NPT. We do not accept these arguments:
• A time-bound commitment to disarm would be unrealistic in today’s circumstances, but the draft treaty does not propose this (see draft Article 5). Rather, each country with nuclear weapons may submit disarmament proposals to a conference of parties under the ban treaty. It is up to each such country to decide what processes and timing it proposes.
• The credibility of the argument that the ban treaty would detract from practical step-by-step disarmament efforts is undermined by the fact that the nuclear-armed countries have no such steps under way or even under discussion. We encourage the nuclear-armed countries to initiate negotiations on these steps without further delay leading to some tangible deliverables.
• The ban treaty does not damage the NPT. Around two-thirds of NPT States Parties are participating in the ban negotiations. It is the boycott by a minority of parties that is divisive. Far from damaging the NPT, the ban treaty will help advance its objectives that all States Parties have committed to for almost half a century.
The nuclear-weapon states seem to have forgotten that the NPT requires them to pursue negotiations on disarmament in good faith. By delegitimizing nuclear weapons the ban treaty will reaffirm the normative boundary between nuclear and conventional weapons, and undercut the attitude that nuclear weapons are permanent. The treaty should make these countries reconsider their plans for new nuclear weapon systems and “modernization” programs, and to start to look seriously at how these weapons can be reduced and eliminated.
For this reason we call upon all countries to support the aims of the ban treaty. Those that can join at the outset should do so, and those that currently have nuclear weapons should start developing proposals for the further effective measures on nuclear disarmament called for in Article 5 of the draft treaty.
Ramesh Thakur, Co-Convenor
Chung-in Moon, Co-Convenor
Gareth Evans, Patron and Emeritus Convenor
Nobuyasu Abe, Japan, Commissioner of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission
Hasmy Agam, Malaysia, Chairman of the Malaysian Commission of Human Rights
Mely Caballero Anthony, Philippines, Head of the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University
John Carlson, Australia, Counselor to the Nuclear Threat Initiative
Chen Dongxiao, China, President of the Shanghai Institute of International Studies
Yungwoo Chun, Republic of Korea, Chairman of the Korean Peninsula Future Forum
Anne Marie L. Corominas, Philippines, Former Assistant Secretary, Head, Legal and International Affairs Office, ATC-PMC, Office of the President
Jayantha Dhanapala, Sri Lanka, President of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs
Aiko Doden, Japan, Senior Commentator with NHK Japan Broadcasting Corporation
Trevor Findlay, Australia, Senior Research Fellow at University of Melbourne
Kiichi Fujiwara, Japan, Professor at University of Tokyo
Yoichi Funabashi, Japan, Chairman of the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation
Marianne Hanson, Australia, Professor at University of Queensland
Peter Hayes, Australia, Director of Nautilus Institute
Robert Hill, Australia, Former Defense Minister
Pervez Hoodbhoy, Pakistan, Professor at Forman Christian College University
Rajmah Hussain, Malaysia, Former Ambassador of Malaysia to USA
Yongsoo Hwang, Republic of Korea, Principal Researcher in Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute
Jehangir Karamat, Pakistan, Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Michael Kirby, Australia, Former Chair of the UNHRC Commission of Inquiry on DPRK
Sawanit Kongsiri, Thailand, Assistant Secretary General for External Relations, Thai Red Cross Society
Kishore Mahbubani, Singapore, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at National University of Singapore
Lalit Mansingh, India, Former Foreign Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs
Abdul Hameed Nayyar, Pakistan, Senior Research Fellow at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute
Nyamosor Tuya, Mongolia, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs
Geoffrey Palmer, New Zealand, Former Prime Minister
HMGS Palihakkara, Sri Lanka, Former Foreign Secretary
Pan Zhenqiang, China, Senior Adviser to China Reform Forum
Dinusha Panditaratne, Sri Lanka, Executive Director of Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute
David Pine, New Zealand, Former High Commissioner to Malaysia
Wiryono Sastrohandoyo, Indonesia, Former Ambassador
Manpreet Sethi, India, Senior Fellow at the Center for Air Power Studies
Shen Dingli, China, Associate Dean of Institute of International Studies, Fudan University
Rakesh Sood, India, Former Ambassador to Conference on Disarmament
Carlos Sorreta, Philippines, Ambassador to Russia
Tatsujiro Suzuki, Japan, Director of Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition (RECNA), Nagasaki University
Ta Minh Tuan, Vietnam, Visiting Professor of Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam
Sadia Tasleem, Pakistan, Lecturer at Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University
John Tilemann, Australia, Director of Research at APLN
Ton Nu Thi Ninh, Vietnam, President of Ho Chi Minh City Peace and Development Foundation
Shashi Tyagi, India, Former Chief of the Indian Air Force
Arun Vishwanathan, India, Assistant Professor at Savitribai Phule Pune University
Vo Van Thuan, Vietnam, Senior Expert-Advisor of Vietnam Atomic Energy Institute
Hiromichi Umebayashi, Japan, Visiting Professor at Nagasaki University
Angela Woodward, New Zealand, Adjunct Senior Fellow at University of Canterbury
Hidehiko Yuzaki, Japan, Governor of Hiroshima Prefecture
Zhao Tong, China, Associate of Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy