Reaching Critical WIll E-News Advisory November 2007
Dear Reaching Critical Will friends and advisors,
The sixty-second session of the General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security closed on Friday, 2 November 2007. It was a rather uneventful session, with a few key highlights (see below). Most delegations continued to lament the lack of progress in disarmament and non-proliferation, especially in the Conference on Disarmament (CD). They called for the adoption of the comprehensive programme of work in the CD at the beginning of 2008, and expressed hope for success at the next nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Preparatory Committee. It would be preferable if First Committee itself was used more effectively to advance the cause of disarmament and international security, rather than as a stage from which to "urge" consensus in another forum. In his remarks on 18 October, Ambassador Landman of the Netherlands paraphrased Victor Hugo, announcing that the time will come when the instruments of war, and in particular weapons of mass destruction, "will be on show in museums in the same way as today one can visit and inspect instruments of torture, fashionable in the Middle Ages and thereafter. And we would all be wondering that such weapons have existed and their use ever contemplated." To reach this point, governments, diplomats, and civil society need to not just theorize about the new (collective) security environment they envision, but to work towards it.
Ray Acheson, Project Associate
1) First Committee closes
In his closing remarks on 2 November, First Committee Chairperson Paul Badji outlined the "productivity" of the 2007 session: more than 315 statements delivered and 52 draft texts adopted. If productivity can be measured by volume of paper circulated, then First Committee was extremely successful. If, however, we turn to Badji's question of whether or not First Committee "advanced the cause of disarmament and international security," the 2007 session could best be characterized as underwhelming.
However, there were some bright spots that inspire us to continue our work - draft resolutions on de-alerting nuclear weapons and on depleted uranium in armour and ammunition were introduced and adopted. Sierra Leone is pushing for human security to be added as a topic for Thematic Debate next year. And there were more panel discussions with experts than usual, leading to very interesting, candid, informal debate between delegates and panelists. For the second year in a row, civil society was invited to deliver presentations to First Committee. Five non-government organization representatives spoke about nuclear weapons, outer space security, small arms, and the Arms Trade Treaty. Read their statements online at http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/political/1com/1com07/statements/statements.html#ngo.
Reaching Critical Will maintains online archives of important information from First Committee - please explore the following resources:
First Committee Monitor
To read all issues of the First Committee Monitor, including the final edition, in either PDF or HTML, go to:
Draft Resolutions, Voting Results, and Explanations of Vote
Voting Results Chart
The Reaching Critical Will team is currently compiling an online database of voting results from the 5 permanent members of the Security Council, and the 65 members of the Conference on Disarmament. The Security Council chart is online now at http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/political/1com/1com07/res/voteindexSC.html. The CD members chart will be available soon.
2) Dr. Randall Caroline Forsberg, leader of the Nuclear Freeze, passes away
Dr. Randall Caroline Forsberg, executive director of the Institute of Defense and Disarmament Studies, political science professor at City College of New York, and instrumental figure in the Nuclear Freeze movement, passed away on 19 October 2007.
Dr. Forsberg consistently argued for the complete abolition of war as an aberration of humankind, and worked for a world in which weapons and war would no longer be socially-sanctioned, where they would be as obsolete and morally reprehensible as slavery. While working as a typist for the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in Sweden, she received "a paid education in what countries were spending" on weapons and what tools of warfare they were buying. Nearly a decade after returning to the US, Dr. Forsberg launched the Nuclear Freeze movement in 1980 when she wrote the "Call to Halt the Nuclear Arms Race," a position paper that outlined the devastating potential of the arsenals possessed by the United States and the Soviet Union. Its message was to improve national and international security by stopping the superpowers' buildup of nuclear weapons, through a verifiable and mutual freeze "on the testing, production and deployment of nuclear weapons" and their delivery systems. She portrayed the freeze as the first step in a broader agenda to eventually abolish not only nuclear weapons but all national military forces. The paper unified disparate peace groups and sparked a nationwide grass-roots campaign.
Though we note Dr. Forsberg's passing with great sorrow, we are confident that her vision and work will be carried on by those who share her belief that our better nature will prevail, and that the abolition of nuclear and conventional weapons is possible—and inevitable. A memorial for Dr. Forsberg will be held in December at the City College of New York, and a scholarship is being established in her name. For more information, please email ray[at]reachingcriticalwill.org.
3) Global Fissile Material Report 2007 released
The International Panel on Fissile Materials (IPFM), an independent group of arms-control and nonproliferation experts from both nuclear weapon and non-nuclear weapon states, released its Global Fissile Material Report 2007 on 9 October. The report is available for download at http://www.fissilematerials.org/ipfm/site_down/gfmr07.pdf. An event to launch the report was held during First Committee, which was covered in the First Committee Monitor (see http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/political/1com/FCM07/week2.html#fissile).
The mission of the IPFM is to analyze the technical basis for practical and achievable policy initiatives to secure, consolidate, and reduce stockpiles of highly enriched uranium and plutonium. The project is co-chaired by Dr. R. Rajaraman, Professor Emeritus, of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India and Professor Frank von Hippel of Princeton University.
4) Scotland aims to keep nuclear submarines out
As reported in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation News of the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplamcy: "The Scottish government held a summit on Trident involving politicians, unions, environmentalists (including Acronym Institute's director, Rebecca Johnson) and church leaders in Glasgow on October 22. The Scottish government has now set up a working group to look at "the various devolved powers that could be used to stop Trident's successor being brought to Scotland". According to the Scotsman, the group will "look at international law, transport, planning and the environment as possible obstacles to the UK government's plans. The Scottish Government, for example, could refuse planning permission for a dry dock to service the nuclear submarines or use international law to prevent 'war crimes' being committed in Scotland." Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has written to 122 NPT states parties asking them to support a request for Scotland to be given observer status at future meetings of the parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)."