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Road map to a world without nuclear weapons

Our latest bog is a reflection fromPax Christi Scotland’s friend in Trinidad and Tobago, Delia Chatoor, lawyer & retired diplomat who specialised in human rights and humanitarian law, diplomacy and conflict resolution. She is now a member of the Caribbean Climate Change Network, contributing to programme development.

“Building a common road map towards a world without nuclear weapons.”

Draft Resolution before the United Nations General Assembly –

The First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) addresses “disarmament, global challenges and threats to peace that affect the international community and seeks out solutions to the challenges in the international security regime.” At its 77th regular session, delegates from UN Member States were actively engaged in a wide range of disarmament challenges and such discussions have become more topical and necessary in light of the ongoing unstable international climate.

In order to bring attention once more to the destructive nature of nuclear weapons, a number of Member States drawn from each geographic region submitted a new agenda item entitled: “Steps to building a common road map towards a world without nuclear weapons.” The co-sponsors of the draft resolution draw attention to “the deteriorated international security environment…. and that the threat of nuclear weapons use today is higher than at any time since the heights of the cold war.”

Daily we are witness to uncomfortable rhetoric on a possible nuclear weapons threat. From such actions one may ask whether the Purposes and Principles of the Charter of the United Nations are of no intrinsic value. Additionally, should those uttering such uncomfortable words not be reminded of the commitments contained in the joint statement issued by the leaders of the five nuclear-weapon states on “preventing nuclear war and avoiding arms races on 3 January 2022.”? How should the international community respond to military nuclear exercises and the continued testing of nuclear missiles? It is reported that the drills include “training for a massive nuclear strike… in retaliation for the enemy’s nuclear strike.”

The draft Resolution also calls upon the nuclear-weapon States, “pending the total elimination of nuclear weapons, to honour and respect all existing security assurances undertaken by them and not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons States parties to the NPT.”

The reality is that the international community continues to battle with myriad challenges ranging from drought, unprecedented weather events, infectious diseases, poverty, and spiralling inflation. There is also the awareness that women continue to bear the brunt of the impacts and the role they should play in decision-making processes. The UN for the past twelve years or so examined these issues in its Resolution: “Women, disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control.” In this regard, therefore, civil society should reinvigorate its efforts to press for enhanced efforts to bring women on board all discussions touching on disarmament challenges.

All the States which continue to possess nuclear weapons are members of the United Nations. Five of them are permanent members of the Security Council, the body charged with the “primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security”. (Article 24 of the UN Charter). It would appear, however, that we members of the international community forget that the requisite functions and powers of the Security Council are conferred on it by the Members of the United Nations.

It is, therefore, past time for the international community to remind the nuclear-weapon states which are permanent members of the Security Council of these responsibilities and the reality that the mere acquisition of one nuclear weapon deviates from the call in the Preamble of the UN Charter that we are all called “to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security.”

Finally we should revisit the rationale behind Paragraph 80 of Vatican Council II, Gaudium et Spes, “…. if the kind of weapons now stocked in the arsenals of the great powers were to be employed to the fullest, the result would be the almost complete reciprocal slaughter of one side by the other, not to speak of the widespread devastation that would follow in the world and the deadly after-effects resulting from the use of such arms.” The warnings are there for all to internalise and adopt appropriate measures.

Delia Chatoor, November 2022

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