Looking for Common Ground ahead of the 2015 NPT Review Conference – Speech by Angela Kane, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, UNODA

16th March 2015

“Countless General Assembly resolutions, final documents of the NPT Review Conferences, agreed texts in other parts of the UN disarmament machinery and statements in multilateral bodies all arrive at the same conclusions. The international community is in perfect accord about the need to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons. And the parties are united in recognising the NPT as the cornerstone of the non-proliferation regime and the essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament. The treaty remains an essential mechanism to realise these imperatives.
While there is no doubt about the common value and importance that the parties ascribe to the NPT, it is unfortunately agreeing upon the means to achieve this unifying principle where divergence often creeps into the picture. […] The 2015 NPT Review Conference is being held at a time of increasing geo-political complexity that presents both new challenges and opportunities for the disarmament and non-proliferation regime. […]

On the negative side of the ledger we have increased international tensions between nuclear-weapon States, allegations of non-compliance with arms control agreements, the failure to translate commitments into action in the pursuit of nuclear disarmament, renewed traditional security challenges such as cyber threats, which further complicate the internationals security environment. On the positive side of the ledge, we have seen the emergence of new and innovative approaches to disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control, both for conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction. Prominent examples of each include the historic entry-into-force of the ATT and the growing momentum for the humanitarian approach to nuclear disarmament. […] Failure to make progress on the conference is not only undermining a key basis on which the NPT was indefinitely extended, but also has implications for regional security and broader international peace and security.

I suppose all of this begs the question—what would constitute a successful Review Conference in 2015? First of all, a successful Review Conference would—inter alia—establish a common expectation for what the regime should look like in 2020—its fiftieth anniversary. Secondly, a successful outcome will underscore that states parties recognise their national interests are best served by faithfully implementing all of the Treaty’s goals. Thirdly, a successful outcome in May will require all states parties to remember their common goal—a world free of nuclear weapons—and the primary role this goal will play in reaching what should be our most common of grounds: our common security. To achieve these outcomes, the Review Conference must establish a sense of direction and urgency coupled with real results and the acceptance that the humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons are undeniable.
If the action plan is to serve as a road map to a world free of nuclear weapons, all states parties must work together to outline how they propose to reach the final destination in the shortest possible time.”

view full speech here

[source: Extracted from a keynote speech by Angela Kane, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, UNODA at a workshop on the NPT, hosted by the James Martin Center for Non-proliferation Studies]