Nuclear weapons convention

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A nuclear weapons convention is a proposed multilateral treaty to outlaw nuclear weapons. This may include the possession, development, testing, production, stockpiling, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons, as well as provide for their elimination. It could be similar to existing conventions outlawing other categories of weapons, such as biological weapons, chemical weapons, anti-personnel mines and cluster bombs.


The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty states that "Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament." In 1996, the International Court of Justice concluded that this means "There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control."[1]

Each year since 1996, the UN General Assembly has passed a resolution calling on all countries immediately to fulfill their disarmament obligation, as articulated by the International Court of Justice, "by commencing multilateral negotiations leading to an early conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention." In 2007, 127 countries voted in favour of the resolution, including four countries with nuclear weapons: China, India, Pakistan and North Korea.[2]

In 1997, a consortium of experts in law, science, disarmament and negotiation drafted a model nuclear weapons convention, which Costa Rica submitted to the UN Secretary-General as a discussion draft.[3] The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons launched an updated version of the model convention in 2007 at a meeting of parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and Costa Rica submitted this as a Conference Document.[4]

On 24 October 2008 the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon discussed a nuclear weapons convention in an address to the East-West Institute entitled "The United Nations and security in a nuclear-weapon-free world." In his five-point program he proposed two alternatives for nuclear disarmament negotiations, either "a framework of separate, mutually reinforcing instruments," or "a nuclear-weapons convention, backed by a strong system of verification," citing the Costa Rican proposal as a good point of departure on the second option.[5]

Mechanisms proposed in the 2007 model convention[edit]

The model convention text requires countries with nuclear weapons to destroy them in stages, including taking them off high alert status, removing them from deployment, removing the warheads from their delivery vehicles, disabling the warheads by removing the explosive "pits", and placing the fissile material under UN control. As well as outlawing nuclear weapons, this convention would prohibit the production of fissile materials suitable for making them, namely highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium.

It would establish an agency to ensure that countries comply with the terms of the treaty. This body would receive progress reports from nuclear-armed states, conduct inspections of weapons facilities, acquire intelligence through satellite photography and remote sensors, and monitor the production and transfer of materials suitable for making nuclear weapons.[6]


A 2008 poll put global public support for a NWC at 76%, with 16% against.[7]

In 2011, the Council of Delegates of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement appealed to all states "to pursue in good faith and conclude with urgency and determination negotiations to prohibit the use of and completely eliminate nuclear weapons through a legally binding international agreement, based on existing commitments and international obligations".[8]


France, Russia, the UK and the US oppose a NWC.[9][dead link]


  1. ^ ICJ Advisory Opinion on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons, 8 July 1996, [1]
  2. ^ accessed 23-12-10
  3. ^ Model Nuclear Weapons Convention, A/C.1/52/7, 17 November 1997.
  4. ^ Model Nuclear Weapons Convention, Working paper submitted by Costa Rica, NPT/CONF.2010/PC.I/WP.17, 1 May 2007.
  5. ^ The United Nations and security in a nuclear-weapon-free world, Address to the East-West Institute by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, 24 October 2008.
  6. ^ Merav Datan, Felicity Hill, Jürgen Scheffran, Alyn Ware: Securing our Survival. The Case for a Nuclear Weapons Convention, Cambridge, Massachusetts 2007, [2]
  7. ^ accessed 23-12-10
  8. ^ Working towards the elimination of nuclear weapons, IRC Movement Council of Delegates 2011, Resolution 1, 26 November 2011.
  9. ^ accessed 21-06-13

See also[edit]

External links[edit]