UN Conference Concludes First Reading of Draft Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons


An article from the United Nations

President Presents Revised Preamble, Noting Proposed Addition of New Paragraphs

Delegations considering an instrument that would prohibit nuclear weapons concluded their first-read through of the entire draft this morning [June 21], before proceeding to informal discussions in the afternoon.

prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination, resumed its consideration of Articles 11 to 21 (document A/CONF.229/2017/CRP.1).

 Having begun the discussion yesterday afternoon, delegates continued to present their positions, making amendments and suggesting revisions to language in the draft.

Ecuador’s representative, noting the “legal confusion” contained in the draft instrument under consideration, emphasized that the negotiations currently under way and the outcome instrument were not intended merely to complement prior agreements.  “We came here to negotiate a separate instrument, even though it is still related to the wider architecture of disarmament.”

Indonesia’s representative reiterated a sentiment expressed yesterday about Article 11, concerning “amendments”, underlining the need to clarify who exactly could make changes to the final instrument.  On another note, he said that although it was the sovereign right of each State party to withdraw from any instrument, provisions must be put in place to ensure that was done in the “most proper way”.  Any withdrawal must be taken very seriously, he added.

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Question related to this article:

Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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Fiji’s representative echoed statements made by several other Pacific delegations throughout discussions in pointing out that nuclear testing had unfortunately come to define the region.  Expressing “utmost faith” that the draft instrument would be a “game-changer”, not only for the Pacific but also the entire world, he voiced support for Article 17, which states that the articles are not subject to reservations.  Such a clause would make the instrument most effective, he said.

Conference President Elayne Whyte Gómez (Costa Rica) presented a revised version of the preamble to the draft instrument, noting that a total of three dozen new paragraphs had been proposed.  She said that, in trying to address all suggestions, she had incorporated proposals that could take the preamble towards consensus, adding that she had also tried to consolidate proposals that would ensure strict avoidance of repetitions in the text.  The preamble must be as short as possible in order to be similar to that of related legal instruments.

Highlighting some of the most significant changes, she said that she had tried, in paragraph 2, to incorporate the risk posed by nuclear weapons to people, health and humanity’s very survival.  Paragraph 3 had been expanded to incorporate the disproportionate impact of nuclear-weapon activities on indigenous peoples.  A paragraph on relationships with other instruments had also been consolidated by the addition of a reference to the pillars of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.  Also added to the last paragraph of the draft preamble — as suggested by several delegations — were references to the role of civil society and academia in furthering the principles of humanity.

Also speaking today were representatives of Mexico, Venezuela, Singapore, Thailand, Nigeria, Philippines, Peru, Guatemala, Malaysia, Argentina and Brazil.

Others addressing the meeting were speakers representing the following entities:  the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Pace University, the International Disarmament Institute and the Centre for International Security and Policy Studies (Kazakhstan).

The Conference will reconvene in open session at a date and time to be announced.