Disarm Resources

Brief Summaries of Treaties and Conventions Relative to Disarmament

Giving Summary, Status, and US Position on Each

1) Limited Test Ban Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water --

Underground testing is not banned so long as radiation does not pass beyond the borders of the nation conducting the tests.

Status: 94 nations have now signed and ratified the treaty which came into effect in August, 1963. France and Pakistan are nuclear powers which have not yet ratified the treaty. The text and additional information are available on the Federation of American Scientists site.

US Position: The US signed and ratified the treaty in 1963. Current US plans to develop "mini-nukes" (as outlined in the Nuclear Posture Review and elsewhere) could lead to violation of the treaty.

2) Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty --

Summary: This treaty would ban all nuclear testing including underground. It establishes a comprehensive monitoring system including on-site inspection on short notice. Background, a summary of the Treaty, and comprehensive information on the November 2001 Conference on Facilitating Entry into Force, a summary of treaty provisions and links to other useful sites on this important treaty are available from WILPF at the Reaching Critical Will site..

Status: As of May 17, 2002 165 countries have signed the treaty and 92 have ratified it. All forty-four States with nuclear power plants must ratify before the treaty can come into force. Sixteen of these essential countries, including the United States, have not yet ratified. The most comprehensive and up-to-date site on the treaty is that of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization.

U.S. Position: The U.S. has signed but not ratified the treaty and boycotted the November 2001 Conference. U.S. Administration officials have indicated they find the treaty irrelevant to US interests. A week before the conference the US forced a procedural vote in the General Assembly First Committee and was the only country to vote against the treaty. The current U.S. Nuclear Posture Review is not consistent with the intent of the CTBT.

3) Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty --

Summary: This treaty became international law in 1970. At that time there were five nuclear powers: the United States, Russia, France, Britain and China. Now there are eight. An important review conference took place in April 2002 in which WILPF actively participated. Information on the treaty, the review conferences and the history and the text of the treaty are at http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/ctbt/ctbtindex.html

Status: 187 nations have now signed and ratified the treaty. All parties to the treaty pledged themselves to work for general and complete disarmament. Only four countries remain outside of the treaty. Three of these have since developed nuclear weapons: Israel, India and Pakistan. The fourth country is Cuba.

U.S. Position: Some fear the position expressed in the Nuclear Posture Review, which reverses previous policy and now threatens to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states, will arouse fears and trigger a new nuclear arms race.

4) Nuclear Weapons Convention --

Summary: A model for a Nuclear Weapons Convention was introduced by a consortium of scientists, former diplomats, disarmament specialists and activists in 1997. Costa Rica submitted it to the United Nations as a discussion document. The full text and reports on monitoring and follow-up are available from http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/ctbt/ctbtindex.html. WILPF sees the Convention as an important educative tool for developing political will to abolish nuclear weapons, as well as laying foundations for future negotiations. Merav Datan of International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War monitors progress on the Convention and the draft Convention and discussion documents can be accessed at http://www.ippnw.org.

5) Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty --

Summary: This is a bi-lateral treaty between Russians and the United States (1972) in which each of the then two super powers agreed not to build defensive systems against each others missiles,

Status: Reaffirmation of the treaty, scuttling of US plans for a missile defense system and weapons in space are major concerns of the US WILPF Section Disarmament Campaign. For links to the treaty, background articles and US Section Disarm Campaign action plans see (link).

US Position: The US has announced intent to withdraw from this treaty in order to develop a missile defense system. Withdrawal becomes effective June 13, 2002.

6) START II/ New U.S.-Russian ‹Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductionsþ

Summary: The second Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty between the US and Russia was to limit US and Russian strategic arsenals to 3,500 warheads (NOTE: tactical and spares are not included here!). The US ratified in 1996, the Russian Duma ratified in April 2000.

Status: A new treaty replacing the START process was recently signed by the US and Russia on May 24, 2002. The agreement requires each side to reduce its number of ‹operationally deployed strategic warheadsþ from today‰s 5,000-6,000 to no more than 2,200 by 2012, when the treaty will expire. For a good analysis of this treaty, go to http://www.armscontrol.org. The treaty does not spell out what is to be done with warheads removed from service. Either party may withdraw within three months notice.

US Position: While the Bush administration has said it intends to dismantle some warheads, it also plans to maintain the capability to redeploy at least 2,400 warheads from its active reserves within three years of the conclusion of the agreement, giving the United States the capability to deploy at least 4,600 strategic warheads by 2015. In addition, in response to US withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, Russia withdrew from START II on June 14, 2002.

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6) Biological Weapons Convention--

Summary: The Convention bans the production, stockpiling or acquisition of biological agents or toxins for other than peaceful purposes. WILPF presents a helpful twelve page discussion of biological weapons and the treaty (including its weaknesses) at http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/bw . A good website for details on biological and the failure to develop a workable protocol for inspection is the Federation of American Scientists at http://www.fas.org/bwc.

Status: The treaty entered into force in 1975. 144 nations have now signed and ratified the treaty. Since 1995 an ad hoc group has been working on a protocol providing for on-site inspection.

US position: The US unilaterally renounced biological weapons in 1969 and originally supported the treaty. However, at the November 2001 UN Conference on the Biological Weapons Protocol the United States opposed the development of on-site inspection saying it would endanger both US security and US pharmaceutical companies by revealing secret information. US rejection of this protocol destroyed 7 years of intensive negotiations.

7) Chemical Weapons Convention --

Summary: Under the treaty countries must stop production, development, acquisition, stockpiling and retention of chemical weapons. All weapons must be destroyed within ten years, a timetable is provided, and there is provision for onsite inspection. WILPF has an excellent discussion of chemical warfare and the various conventions seeking to eliminate it at http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/cw.

Status: The treaty entered into force in 1997. More than 170 countries have signed the Convention and 145 have now ratified it. The most up-to-date information is at http://www.opcw.org.

US Position: The United States has signed and ratified and is currently preparing to destroy stockpiles in Umatilla, Oregon but progress is slow because of problems with safety and best methods to use. In addition, on April 24, 2002, after a week of arm-twisting and secret meetings, the US government forced the departure of Jose Bustani, director-general of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

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8) Peaceful Uses of Space --

Summary: The original treaty on peaceful uses of space came into effect in 1967. It specifically bans weapons of mass destruction in space or on celestial bodies. The intent of the treaty is to ensure peaceful uses of space for the good of all nations but it does not ban weaponization in general or nuclear power in space, nor does it control spy satellites or the accumulation of "junk" in space. The original treaty and other relevant documents are available from http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/paros/parosindex.html

Status: 183 UN members reaffirmed the treaty in November 2001 (Israel and the US abstained). In February 1999 the Canadians proposed an ad hoc committee to negotiate a convention on the non-weaponization of outer space. China made a similar proposal in March 1999. In October 1999 21 countries, including China, Russia, Pakistan and North Korea, reaffirmed the work of the ad hoc committee and called upon all nations to support it.

US Position: The US supported the original declaration on the peaceful uses of space (1967) but when 183 UN members sought to reaffirm it in November of 2001 the US and Israel were the only two countries to abstain. The Pentagon is currently moving forward on efforts to put weapons and nuclear power into space.(Vision 2020 and the Space Command Long Range Plan are at: http://www.spacecom.af.mil/usspace/). Preventing weaponization of space and the accompanying Ballistic Missile "Defense" program is a major campaign of WILPF. (Links to this portion of our own DISARM CAMPAIGN website for conferences, actions, flyers, Kuchinich bill, pros and cons of that bill and text of an alternate bill to prevent weapons and nuclear power in space.)

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9) Small arms trade --

Summary: In July 2001 140 nations agreed unanimously on a voluntary pact to eliminate illicit small arms trade. Conference participants unanimously supported a program of action urging governments to require gun manufacturers to mark and trace their guns, to establish laws regulating arms brokers, to ensure export controls on small arms and light weapons, to criminalize the illicit production and trade of the weapons and to destroy surplus stocks of small arms.

Status: Despite general frustration over the US positions Kofi Annan praised participants for their ability to reach consensus on many important first steps in controlling illicit weapons flows. Up-to-date details are available at http://www.iansa.org/

US position: The United States blocked agreement, however, on provisions to regulate civilian gun ownership and to curb arms transfers to non state actors. A follow-up conference is scheduled for 2006.

10) Land Mines --

Summary: This 1997 treaty bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of antipersonnel landmines

Status: It has been ratified by 123 countries and signed by 143. Up-dated information on the treaty and the campaign to make it truly global can be found on the website of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines at http://www.icbl.org/

US position: Clinton signed this very popular treaty and promised ratification by 2006 once the United States has perfected self destructing land mines. Recent reports, however, indicate the Pentagon is urging withdrawal of support from this treaty. US argued against including cluster bombs, which are, in effect, land mines scattered from the air. Cluster bombs were used extensively in Afghanistan and Kosovo. Despite skepticism about the treaty the US has been active in clearing land mines in many areas.

11) Child Soldiers --

Summary: In May 2000 the UN General Assembly approved an optional protocol for the Convention on the Rights of the Child which would make it a war crime to conscript children under the age of eighteen for warfare of any kind. Children under eighteen may not be compelled to serve and are not to take direct part in hostilities. The Protocol was opened for signatures and ratification and the Secretary General was asked to report annually on progress in enforcing the protocol.

Status: In February 2002 the treaty came into force with 94 signatories and 14 ratifications.

US Position: The US is one of only two countries (the other being Somalia) which has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It has, however, signed the optional protocol and President Bush has said that ratification will be a high priority.

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12) Anti-terrorism treaties --

Summary: A list and summary of United Nations anti-terrorism treaties, with text and status of each treaty is available at http://untreaty.un.org/english/tersumen.html. One of these is the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, December 1999. This treaty pledges States to assist each other in apprehending, prosecuting and -- if relevant -- extraditing terrorist bombers. It also gives some legal protections to the accused, consistent with the UN Convention on Human Rights. The second treaty is the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, December 1999. This act requires States to prevent groups within their borders from funding terrorist acts abroad. The Convention also ensures the basic human rights of apprehended offenders.

Status: The treaty on terrorist bombings is already in force. The treaty on suppression of financing of terrorism is not yet in force.

US positions: The US had not ratified either treaty, but the Senate did so hurriedly in January 2001 after the September 11 attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.

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13. International Criminal Court --

Summary: This is the first permanent court capable of investigating and bringing to justice individuals who commit the most serious violations of international humanitarian law, namely war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and once defined, crimes of aggression. Unlike the International Court of Justice in The Hague, whose jurisdiction is restricted to States, the ICC will have the capacity to indict individuals. The ICC will be complementary to national jurisdictions, and will act only when national systems are unable or unwilling to genuinely carry out investigations or prosecutions of such crimes. The jurisdiction of the Court is not retroactive; it will only apply to those crimes that are committed after entry into force of the Rome Statute. Much to the disappointment of the NGO disarmament community, language regarding the threat or use of weapons of mass destruction did not make it into the ICC statute.

Status: The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) enters into force July 21, 2002, The treaty now has 67 ratifications (including those of all members of the European Union) and 139 signatures

US position: There has been strong opposition to the treaty by some members of the US Senate, and in May the US President announced unsigning of the treaty. The European Union expressed strong regrets at the US unilateral action, seeing this as a threat to the development of international law, but left the way open for future US participation. For full information on ICC, visit the International Criminal Court site.

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