The final session in the time that the United Nations allocated for its members to produce a treaty to ban nuclear weapons has began today.
In March, 133 states and numerous delegates to the Conference from the world’s civil society organisations made presentations and had the discussions that enabled the Chair, Ambassador Elaine Whyte Gomez from Costa Rica and her team to produce the draft text for the treaty that will now be at the centre of the work to be done between now and the 7th July when it is anticipated that the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty will be ready for signing.
There was powerful sense of excitement and an enthusiasm for the work amongst civil society representatives as well as the diplomats as the first part of the treaty, the preamble that identifies all the core elements to be incorporated, was explored one paragraph at a time. While one could imagine that this would be a dry and pedantic process, no one involved lost sight for one second of the significance of the task being undertaken and the consideration and attentive listening created a very exciting sense of progress and hope.
The activity was enthusiastically and prolifically shared on social media, and messages of support and appreciation were flowing in from across the world, for this ban is what’s wanted and needed by so many of the people in so many places.
Many states had similar ideas about how to augment what was in the draft, with discussions around the gendered impact of the harm and of the importance of women’s voices in the dialogue, and the importance of integrating recognition of the impact of nuclear weapons on social and economic development.
Most states and civil society wanted to strengthen the draft provisions around international humanitarian law and there was recognition that the treaty needs to clearly function in relation to existing legal instruments, including the Non Proliferation Treaty while addressing the shortcomings of these.
There were smiles and greetings in and outside the room, and the first side event of the conference, which considered how the treaty would be verified and the questions arising for both nuclear free and nuclear armed states.
We hope that agreements can be reached threat, and preparations to use nuclear weapons, and the Scottish delegates are particularly interested in the issues of the transit of nuclear weapons and hoping for an explicit prohibition on this and also on financing, and look forward to tomorrow’s side events, the launch of the latest counter arguments book from Quaker Peace and Social Witness Tim Wallis, and a pizza party with an opportunity to make banners and other props in preparation for Saturday, and the Women’s March to Ban The Bomb.