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Preparatory Committee for Non-Proliferation Treaty Review

Update: Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, 22 April - 3 May 2013

iCAN Aotearoa New Zealand

1 May 2013

This message contains an update on the NPT PrepCom currently underway in Geneva, including links to the statements by New Zealand representatives, and the Joint Statement on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons,delivered by South Africa on behalf of 74 states, including New Zealand.

As you may have heard, there was a dramatic turn of events on Monday when the Egyptian delegation walked out, advising the meeting that advised the room that they were withdrawing from the rest of the PrepCom as a result of the “flagrant non-fulfilment of agreed commitments” in the 2010 NPT outcome document, namely the convening of a conference on the subject of a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass-destruction in the Middle East. Comment on this from Susi Snyder, IKV Pax Christi, is available at http://www.nonukes.nl/en/news/and-egypt-walked-out... and on Pressenza at http://www.pressenza.com/2013/04/egypt-walks-out-of-npt-conference - the Egyptian delegations statement is available at http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/npt/prepcom13/statements/29April_Egypt.pdf

The walk out is also covered in Reaching Critical Will's 'NPT News in Review', which provides daily news coverage of the NPT PrepCom -  'NPT News in Review' is available at http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/disarmament-fora/npt/2013/nir and Vol. 11, No. 8 'Walking out, or walking on?' is at http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/disarmament-fora/npt/2013/nir/7852-1-may-2013-vol-11-no-8

Statements by New Zealand representatives:
General Debate - http://papersmart.unmeetings.org/media/1259377/New_Zealand.pdf
Cluster one: implementation of the provisions of the Treaty relating to non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, disarmament, and international peace and security - http://papersmart.unmeetings.org/media/1519619/10_New_Zealand_Cluster_1_Apr_25_AM.pdf
Cluster two: implementation of the provisions of the Treaty relating to non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, safeguards, and nuclear weapon free zones -  http://papersmart.unmeetings.org/media/1527314/5_New_Zealand_Cluster_2_Apr_26_AM.pdf
Cluster three: implementation of the provisions of the Treaty relating to the inalienable right of all parties to the Treaty to develop research, production, and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with articles I and II - http://papersmart.unmeetings.org/media/1557567/6_New_Zealand_Cluster_3_Apr_30_PM.pdf
General Debate: Statement by Brazil on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition (referred to in New Zealand's statement to the General Debate) - http://papersmart.unmeetings.org/media/1259313/New_Agenda_Coalition__Brazil.pdf

General Debate: Statement of the International Committee of the Red Cross - http://papersmart.unmeetings.org/media/1480089/ICRC_25_Apr.pdf

Joint Statement on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons - text below, the pdf is available at http://papersmart.unmeetings.org/media/1361004/South_Africa.pdf

Delivered by Ambassador Abdul Samad Minty, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations at Geneva, 24 April 2013

Chairperson,

I am taking the floor on behalf of the following States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), namely Algeria, Argentina, Austria, Belarus, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Georgia, Grenada, Guatemala, Holy See, Honduras, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Samoa, Singapore, Swaziland, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Uganda, Ukraine, Uruguay, Yemen, Zambia and my own country South Africa.

Our countries are deeply concerned about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. While this has been known since nuclear weapons were first developed and is reflected in various UN resolutions and multilateral instruments, it has not been at the core of nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation deliberations for many years.  Although it constitutes the raison d’être of the NPT, which cautions against the "devastation that would be visited upon all mankind by a nuclear war and the consequent need to make every effort to avert the danger of such a war and to take measures to safeguard the security of peoples", this issue has consistently been ignored in the discourse on nuclear weapons.

Yet, past experience from the use and testing of nuclear weapons has amply demonstrated the unacceptable harm caused by the immense, uncontrollable destructive capability and indiscriminate nature of these weapons. The effects of a nuclear weapon detonation are not constrained by national borders - it is therefore an issue of deep concern to all.  Beyond the immediate death and destruction caused by a detonation, socio-economic development will be impeded, the environment will be destroyed, and future generations will be robbed of their health, food, water and other vital resources.

In recent years, the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons has increasingly been recognised as a fundamental and global concern that must be at the core of all deliberations on nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation. This issue is now firmly established on the global agenda: The 2010 Review Conference of the NPT expressed “deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons”.  Similarly, the 2011 resolution of the Council of Delegates of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement emphasised the incalculable human suffering associated with any use of nuclear weapons, and the implications for international humanitarian law.

The March 2013 Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons held in Oslo presented a platform to engage in a fact-based discussion on the impact of a nuclear weapon detonation. The broad participation at the Conference reflects the recognition that the catastrophic effects of a detonation are of concern and relevance to all.  A key message from experts and international organisations is that no State or international body could address the immediate humanitarian emergency caused by a nuclear weapon detonation or provide adequate assistance to victims.  We warmly welcome Mexico’s announcement of a follow-up Conference to further broaden and deepen understanding of this matter and the resolve of the international community to address the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. 

It is in the interest of the very survival of humanity that nuclear weapons are never used again, under any circumstances. The catastrophic effects of a nuclear weapon detonation, whether by accident, miscalculation or design, cannot be adequately addressed.  All efforts must be exerted to eliminate this threat.  The only way to guarantee that nuclear weapons will never be used again is through their total elimination.  It is a shared responsibility of all States to prevent the use of nuclear weapons, to prevent their vertical and horizontal proliferation and to achieve nuclear disarmament, including through fulfilling the objectives of the NPT and achieving its universality.  The full implementation of the 2010 Action Plan and previous outcomes aimed at achieving the objectives of the NPT must therefore not be postponed any further.

Addressing the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons is an absolute necessity. As an element that underpins the NPT, it is essential that the humanitarian consequences inform our work and actions during the current Review Cycle and beyond.

This is an issue that affects not only governments, but each and every citizen of our interconnected world.  By raising awareness about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, civil society has a crucial role to play, side-by-side with governments, as we fulfil our responsibilities.  We owe it to future generations to work together to rid our world of the threat posed by nuclear weapons.

ENDS

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