Sun, Jun 21, 2015: SfP Board of Directors meeting and potluck supper

Sunday June 21, 4- 8 pm.
Board of Directors meeting and potluck supper
Party room, 155 Marlee Ave., Toronto (Door code 370)
All members are welcome

Agenda item re: Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty / Humanitarian Pledge

Recommendation to the Science for Peace Board

Rob Acheson, SfP Nuclear Weapons Working Group

On May 22 the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference closed without a formal agreement, seemingly because of Middle-East politics, but, more fundamentally, because the parties were far apart on whether to press forward promptly toward nuclear disarmament.

However, despite this outcome, a new dynamic in our quest for a world without nuclear weapons has emerged. It is the ‘Humanitarian Pledge’, a document originated by Austria, and thus far, endorsed by 107 states, which promises measures “to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.” The exact form these measures will take is still to be determined, but it represents a firm rejection of the status quo as it has been perpetuated by the nuclear weapon states and their allies, who have espoused a gradual “step by step” approach to nuclear disarmament. Too long we have waited for the nuclear weapons states to agree to disarm their weapons; now the rest of the world will seize the initiative and demand compliance from the nuclear weapons states.

There are varying paths to nuclear disarmament preferred by different NGOs and governments and there is some degree of competition and controversy over which is the best route. While all paths will continue to be discussed and explored by us, it is the view of the Science for Peace Nuclear Weapons Working Group that at this point in history our energies and focus are best spent building support amongst both civil society and our Members of Parliament to have Canada endorse the ‘Humanitarian Pledge’ and participate in the drafting of a treaty to prohibit and eliminate these heinous weapons, as has been done with biological and chemical weapons.

Because this approach represents more than a shift in rhetoric, but will be reflected in the intensified demands of peace and disarmament activists around the world, we believe that endorsing it should not be a perfunctory decision but should follow a thorough discussion by Science for Peace itself. Hence we propose that all concerned members of Science for Peace read the appended document and discuss it in a board meeting before officially adopting it as the position of our organization.

The Humanitarian Pledge

In light of the important facts and findings that have been presented at the international conferences in Oslo, Nayarit and Vienna, and after careful consideration of the evidence, We, the States supporting and/or endorsing this pledge, have come to the following inescapable conclusions and make the subsequent pledge to take them forward with interested parties in available fora, including in the context of the NPT and its 2015 Review Conference:

Mindful of the unacceptable harm that victims of nuclear weapons explosions and nuclear testing have experienced and recognising that the rights and needs of victims have not yet been adequately addressed,

Understanding that the immediate, mid-term and long-term consequences of a nuclear weapon explosion are significantly graver than it was understood in the past and will not be constrained by national borders but have regional or even global effects, potentially threatening the survival of humanity,

Recognizing the complexity of and interrelationship between these consequences on health, environment, infrastructure, food, security, climate, development, social cohesion and the global economy that are systemic and potentially irreversible,

Aware that the risk of a nuclear weapon explosion is significantly greater than previously assumed and is indeed increasing with increased proliferation, the lowering of the technical threshold for nuclear weapon capability, the ongoing modernisation of nuclear weapon arsenals in nuclear weapon possessing states, and the role that is attributed to nuclear weapons in the nuclear doctrines of possessor states,

Cognisant of the fact that the risk of nuclear weapons use with their unacceptable consequences can only be avoided when all nuclear weapons have been eliminated,

Emphasizing that the consequences of a nuclear weapon explosion and the risks associated with nuclear weapons concern the security of all humanity and that all states share the responsibility to prevent any use of nuclear weapons,

Emphasizing that the scope of consequences of a nuclear weapon explosion and risks associated raise profound moral and ethical questions that go beyond debates about the legality of nuclear weapons,

Mindful that no national or international response capacity exists that would adequately respond to the human suffering and humanitarian harm that would result from a nuclear weapon explosion in a populated area, and that such capacity most likely will never exist,

Affirming that it is in the interest of the very survival of humanity that nuclear weapons are never used again, under any circumstances,

Reiterating the crucial role that international organisations, relevant UN entities, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, elected representatives, academia and civil society play for advancing the shared objective of a nuclear weapon free world,

We regard it as our responsibility and consequently pledge to present the facts-based discussions, findings and compelling evidence of the Vienna Conference, which builds upon the previous conferences in Oslo and Nayarit, to all relevant fora in particular the NPT Review Conference 2015 and in the UN framework, as they should be at the centre of all deliberations, obligations and commitments with regard to nuclear disarmament,

We pledge to follow the imperative of human security for all and to promote the protection of civilians against risks stemming from nuclear weapons,

We call on all states parties to the NPT to renew their commitment to the urgent and full implementation of existing obligations under Article VI, and to this end, to identify and pursue effective measures to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons and we pledge to cooperate with all stakeholders to achieve this goal,

We call on all nuclear weapons possessor states to take concrete interim measures to reduce the risk of nuclear weapon detonations, including reducing the operational status of nuclear weapons and moving nuclear weapons away from deployment into storage, diminishing the role of nuclear weapons in military doctrines and rapid reductions of all types of nuclear weapons,

We pledge to cooperate with all relevant stakeholders, States, international organisations, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movements, parliamentarians and civil society, in efforts to stigmatise, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons in light of their unacceptable humanitarian consequences and associated risks.