Category: The WMD Blog

The comments in this section are written by members of the ILPI nuclear weapons project team. The views represented herein are those of the respective authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the International Law and Policy Institute.


Change or perish

For the second time in four years, states interested in discussing nuclear disarmament are circumventing the Conference on Disarmament. The CD must change or perish.

By Kjølv Egeland
27 January 2016

The Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva—often presented as the world’s ‘sole multilateral negotiating body for disarmament’—was created as a successor to the Committee on the Conference on Disarmament at the First United Nations Special Session on Disarmament (UNSSOD-1) in 1978. The creation of the CD was seen as a victory for neutral and non-aligned states at the time, as it increased their representation and made conference presidency rotate among all members

The splits

While painful for some, the disappearance of the middle ground in the international nuclear weapons debate is not necessarily a bad thinght_jean_claude_van_damme_volvo_truck_split_ll_131115_16x9_992

By Magnus Løvold
5 November 2015

The international debate on nuclear weapons has always, in a sense, been polarized. Ever since the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1970 divided the world into nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states—between a group of five “haves” and a vast majority of “have-nots”—the nuclear weapons debate has oscillated between two fundamentally incompatible ideas: the notion that nuclear weapons somehow provide national security and/or increase global stability, on the one hand, and the notion that these weapons are unacceptable, destabilizing and must be eliminated, on the other.

Bad tactics

Attempts at intimidation are likely to reinforce rather than silence the call for a nuclear weapons prohibition

By Magnus Løvold
20 October 2015

If it is true that the potential of a political initiative is best measured by the level of pushback it provokes, the 2015 session of the UN General Assembly’s First Committee has so far been a major success for proponents of a nuclear weapons prohibition.

Singing in the rain

What is a ‘nuclear umbrella’ anyway?

By Kjølv Egeland
13 October 2015

As I write this, the number of states endorsing the Humanitarian Pledge has grown to 119. Having been launched only in December, the ascendancy of the Pledge is impressive. Yet—as the graph below illustrates—the Pledge has struggled to gain foothold in certain regions. While all states in Latin America and the Caribbean have endorsed the Pledge, only 8 of the 53 states (15 %) belonging to the two regional groups of ‘Eastern Europe’ and ‘Western Europe and Others’ have pledged their support. The reason for this, some have argued, is the high proportion of so-called nuclear umbrella states in these groups. But what is a nuclear umbrella anyway?

Nordic refreshments

The Nordic working paper to the NPT RevCon was a refreshing rejection of the security dimension of nuclear weapons—something more European countries would do well to follow

By Torbjørn Graff Hugo
30 June 2015

In NPT Working Paper 15, presented at the Review Conference in May, the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) outlined their joint recommendations to the meeting, with a particular focus on the disarmament pillar. The paper covers a broad range of disarmament-related issues, but is notable for three aspects in particular.

The fairness dimension

A treaty banning nuclear weapons would be worthwhile whether it leads to physical disarmament or not

By Kjølv Egeland
2 June 2015

The Non-Proliferation Treaty is an intrinsically unfair Treaty, which divides the world between “haves” and “have nots”’, the Brazilian delegation maintained in a statement to the NPT Review Conference in 2010. Five years later, at the 2015 Review Conference, the South African delegation asserted that ‘we can no longer afford to strike hollow agreements every five years which only seem to perpetuate the status quo. The time has come to bring a decisive end to what amounts to “nuclear apartheid”’. Over the last five years, a perception of nuclear colonialism, P5 arrogance, and a generally fraudulent nature of nuclear politics has proliferated. But such sentiments are hardly new. The ‘fairness dimension’ of nuclear disarmament has coexisted with the ‘humanitarian’ and ‘security dimensions’ all along. But with the ban-treaty option on the table, states are in a position to do something about it.

The NPT disarmament fallacy

As we write this blog, the parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) are gathered at the UN in New York to discuss the past and future five years in the treaty’s life

By Kjølv Egeland and Nobuo Hayashi
19 May 2015

National delegations are desperate to achieve consensus on an outcome document to determine the next steps for disarmament. History suggests, however, that the adoption of such a document will have zero effect on nuclear stockpiles.

Scope of action

An overview of the issues, policy positions and possible outcomes of scenarios at the 2015 Review Conference of the NPT.

By Magnus Løvold
5 May 2015

click to enlargeOn Monday 27 April, Ambassador Taous Feroukhi of Algeria opened the 2015 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). In the weeks leading up to 22 May 2015, when the 2015 NPT Review Conference comes to a close, States Parties will review the implementation of the treaty and possibly agree on future actions.