Crisis Group President Co-Chairs New International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament
Crisis Group President Co-Chairs New International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament
How the UN Can Make the Most of the New Agenda for Peace
How the UN Can Make the Most of the New Agenda for Peace
Statement / Global 3 minutes

Crisis Group President Co-Chairs New International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament

Joint statement by Gareth Evans and Yoriko Kawaguchi, co-chair.

We are delighted with the outstanding individuals who have agreed to serve as Commissioners on the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament established by the Governments of Australia and Japan, and with the equally impressive group of Advisory Board members and Associated Research Centres who will be contributing to the Commission’s work, all listed in the attachment.

It is of great international concern that so little progress has been made in recent years on the vital nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament agenda. We hope the Commission can break this stalemate by reinvigorating, at a high political level, awareness of the global need for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, in the context of the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference and beyond.

To succeed in engaging political decision makers, the Commission will need to recognise, and bring a realistic approach to, the many factors continuing to drive nuclear weapons acquisition and retention.  The case for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament will need to be restated in terms that are not only technically sound but also compelling for political decision makers.

In particular the Commission will be seeking, through the credibility of its membership, the quality of its arguments and the effectiveness of its advocacy, to change the formulaic and unproductive nature of much of the current international nuclear debate between nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states, developed and developing country NPT parties, and NPT parties and non-parties.

In support of this goal, the Commission will take an inclusive approach, emphasising the interconnectedness of the challenges in relation to non-proliferation, disarmament and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  It will make practical and realistic recommendations in each of these areas, recognising that movement in each part will encourage progress in others.

The implications of the likely “nuclear renaissance” due to climate change and energy security concerns will be a focus for the Commission, including the need for renewed attention to nuclear safeguards, safety and security.

The Commission intends engaging relevant global actors in identifying the most effective policy approaches. The Commission will also look for ways by which the nuclear armed states outside the NPT can be fully integrated into global non-proliferation and disarmament efforts.

The Commission will carry out its work against the background of a number of major developments of concern in the nuclear landscape in the last decade:

  • the emergence of India and Pakistan since 1998 as nuclear-armed states outside the NPT, joining Israel (notwithstanding its continued policy of strategic ambiguity);
  • North Korea’s purported withdrawal from the NPT, nuclear test in 2006, and uncertain commitment to denuclearisation;
  • Iran’s development within the NPT of proliferation sensitive nuclear activities, including uranium enrichment and heavy water technologies;
  • accelerated concern post 9/11 about the risk of nuclear or radiological terrorism;
  • the impact of the internet and black market activity in substantially increasing knowledge of, and access to, sensitive nuclear technology;
  • the major renewal of interest in nuclear energy for electricity generation generated by concern about climate change and energy security; and
  • increasing post-Cold War discontent with NPT nuclear-weapon states’ performance in meeting their nuclear disarmament obligations.

But as well as these challenges, the Commission will also be able to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the intense policy and research activity now going on worldwide in the lead-up to the 2010 NPT Review Conference, not least the high-level debate stimulated by the bipartisan and realist case for disarmament recently made by the U.S. statesmen Henry Kissinger, Sam Nunn, William Perry and George Shultz.

The Commission will publish a major report no later than January 2010, in time to help shape a global consensus in the lead-up to the 2010 NPT Review Conference. It will also consider publishing a supplementary report in mid-2010, making such further recommendations as are appropriate in the aftermath of that Conference.

It is envisaged the full Commission will meet about six times in total, at approximately three-monthly intervals, with the first meeting planned for 19-21 October in Sydney, and later venues likely to include Japan, Europe and North America. It is anticipated that several regional meetings, in which smaller groups of Commissioners would participate, will also be arranged during the life of the Commission.

We do not underestimate the magnitude of the tasks facing the Commission.  But the many positive reactions since it was announced suggest there is considerable support for a fundamental re-evaluation of the nuclear challenges facing the world and practical ways of addressing them.

We look forward to working with our fellow Commissioners and advisers, and with the broad international community, on this important initiative.

New York

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