Submission from the United Nations
Association of the United Kingdom (UNA-UK)
1. UNA-UK is the UK's leading independent
policy authority on the UN and a UK-wide membership organisation,
supporting the work of the UN and its agencies. We campaign for
a strong, credible and effective UN, promoting the principles
of multilateralism and adherence to international law contained
in the UN Charter. UNA-UK is independent of the UN system and
receives no funding from it, allowing us to be critical of the
UN's decisions and activities when we need to be and enabling
us to call for the organisation to be reformed so that it is better
equipped to fulfil its fundamental functions.
2. UNA-UK is non-party political. Our head
office in London provides policy expertise to support the advocacy
work of UNA-UK members. It maintains an ongoing dialogue with
UK government ministers, parliamentarians and the media on issues
relating to the UN and acts as the Secretariat to the All-Party
Parliamentary Group on the UN.
3. At its 2008 Annual Conference in
Exeter on 28-30 March, UNA-UK unanimously endorsed a resolution
on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, the key elements
of which were:
to seek through the Security Council
the development of a nuclear-weapons convention as outlined in
the 13 point plan of the 2000 NPT Review Conference
with the aim of securing immediate restraint and eventually general
and complete disarmament; and
to give strong support to the Reykjavik
initiative aimed at achieving progress towards a world free from
nuclear weapons, and urgently needed efforts to strengthen the
nuclear non-proliferation regime at the 2010 NPT Review Conference.
4. UNA-UK welcomes the launch of the Committee's
inquiry, and will focus its response on Nuclear Non-proliferation.
Nuclear weapons pose an undeniable and growing threat to human
survival. The current geopolitical circumstances make the need
to manage the associated risks more urgent than at any other time
since the Cold War. Today, the nuclear threat touches the interests
of all states, as it is bound up in wider systemic issues of energy
security, regional power balances and global terrorism. Dealing
with these threats requires a concerted international approach
at the UN and the adoption of a strategy that is as wide-ranging
and complex as the risks faced.
5. There is an urgent imperative to strengthen
the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)the cornerstone
of the international nuclear regimewhich has been brought
to near breaking point in recent years. The erosion of confidence
in the NPT was most evident in 2005, when states failed to reach
agreement on ways to strengthen the regime and move closer towards
achieving its objectives. The primary obstacle to progress was
essentially that nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states could not
agree whether to emphasise non-proliferation or disarmament. There
is now an urgent need to reach agreement on the major challenges
facing the NPT at its next Review Conference in 2010.
6. There is an emerging consensus that,
as an integral part of this process, practical steps must be taken
along the path of nuclear disarmament by the five recognised nuclear
weapons states in line with the commitments they entered into
at the NPT Review Conferences in 1995 and 2000. UN Secretary-General
Ban Ki-moon has stated that achieving progress towards nuclear
disarmament is one of the four most pressing global challenges
faced today. In the US, four former leading statesmenHenry
Kissinger, George Schultz, William Perry and Sam Nunnhave
launched the Nuclear Security Project, an initiative calling for
a fresh drive to achieve nuclear disarmament. Such an approach
has been supported by both presidential candidates. What is urgently
needed now is to turn these laudable intentions into practical
actions. This means making tangible progress towards nuclear disarmament,
whilst taking steps to strengthen the international non-proliferation
7. The UK, as a permanent member of the
UN Security Council and a depository to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty, has particular responsibility for maintaining international
peace and security by reversing recent trends towards a weakening
of the NPT. The UK is ideally situated to take the lead in addressing
the complex challenges faced as it has demonstrated the greatest
commitment to disarmament out of the five recognised nuclear-weapon-states.
8. UK support for the US-led Nuclear Security
Project has been expressed by four UK statesman (Lord Hurd, Sir
Malcolm Rifkind, Lord Owen and Lord Robertson), as well as by
leading members of the government and senior opposition MPs. EDM
2053, calling on the government to stimulate and support developments
which enhance the prospects for non-proliferation and a fresh
drive for nuclear disarmament, has already been signed by 75 MPs.
What is needed now is to translate this emerging consensus into
9. UNA-UK believes that the UK government
should be prepared to engage in concerted advocacy and action
to further nuclear disarmament by:
Raising awareness of the urgent need
for action to counter the threats posed by nuclear weapons. Securing
bipartisan recognition that tackling the threat is not a party
political issue but a vital and urgent national interest which
needs a common purpose and shared vision.
Pressing all nuclear-weapons-states
to de-alert their existing weapons and their means of delivery.
Launching a joint initiative with
the new US administration to work towards the shared vision of
a world free from nuclear weapons. This should include the UK
government urging the new US President to re-submit the Comprehensive
Test Ban Treaty to Congress for ratification.
Energetically pursuing existing proposals
to use British nuclear weapons expertise to conduct ground-breaking
research into the technical challenges and requirements of verifying
Pushing for the start of negotiations
without pre-conditions on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT)
at the Conference on Disarmament.
Strengthening the international safeguards
and inspections system. This could be achieved by increasing the
IAEA's capacity and budget, and by initiating dialogue between
the nuclear and non-nuclear-weapon-states over the need to make
adoption and ratification of the Additional Protocol a requirement
on all NPT signatories.
Giving a high priority to securing
agreement on a mechanism, overseen by the IAEA, guaranteeing access
to the safe and peaceful use of fuel for civil nuclear purposes
and avoiding the further proliferation of uranium enrichment and
Continuing working towards establishing
a standard response when a state breaches or leaves the NPT.
Assisting states meet their obligations
under UN resolutions aimed at preventing nuclear proliferation.
10. UNA-UK believes that a revival of the
multilateral disarmament process which has languished and in some
cases regressed in recent years should be a major objective of
UK foreign policy in the years ahead, and that HMG should be prepared
to make its own substantive contribution to such a process.
26 September 2008