On February 14, 2014, Mexico’s Vice-Minister for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights called upon all committed states to join in the negotiation of a treaty to ban nuclear weapons . In the aftermath of the Mexican announcement, several observers have raised concerns about the merits of such an initiative, especially if the process does not include all the nuclear-armed states. What good would a ban treaty do if it only covers states that have already renounced nuclear weapons under the NPT and through nuclear-weapon-free zones? And, in the words of the UN’s High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Angela Kane, ‘on what basis can anyone conclude that a ban-the-bomb treaty would eventually achieve universal membership?’ .
Australia’s disarmament dilemma
In this background paper, professor Michael Hamel-Green unpacks the paradox of Australia on the one hand being party to the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone, and relying on a nuclear security strategy through the ANZUS Security Treaty with the United States on the other.