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Negotiating Withdrawal Provisions

The second meeting in a series of public discussions was held on 10 March 2017 at the Palais des Nations under the sponsorship of the Permanent Mission of Ireland, co-organised by the Geneva Disarmament Platform and the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP).

Given that a frequently stipulated condition of nuclear disarmament is that it should be irreversible, and given the underlying humanitarian rationale for prohibiting nuclear weapons (including the fundamental determination that nuclear weapons must never be used “under any circumstances”), this session tackled how the ban treaty should deal with withdrawal. 

Initial remarks were given by Ambassador Patricia O'Brien, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations in Geneva, and Mr Marc Finaud, Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) Senior Programme Advisor. 

Professor Marco Roscini, Professor of International Law at the Westminster Law School, introduced the topic of withdrawal in arms-prohibition treaties. He explained that ultimately any withdrawal provision will be regulated by the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT), then examined recent examples relevant to a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons. Professor Roscini believes that including a withdrawal clause gives the treaty a greater chance at success, and that any provision should take inspiration from international humanitarian law treaties and stipulate that withdrawal will not take effect if the party is involved in an armed conflict at the moment of withdrawal. Read the full text of his presentation.

Mr Daniel Rietiker submitted a contribution for circulation on behalf of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA) and Swiss Lawyers for Nuclear Disarmament (SLND). The paper summarises withdrawal clauses included in arms control treaties in order to raise relevant questions and outline potential options for a withdrawal clause in a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons. Read the contributed paper.

The open discussion brought up the implications of the humanitarian nature of this treaty, the potential role for the International Court of Justice, and the relationship between this treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons and the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The event summary can be found here.

The first event, on cooperation and relations with nuclear-armed states outside the treaty, was hosted by the Permanent Mission of Austria on 6 March. The third and last event will be hosted by the Permanent Mission of South Africa on 22 March, on Accession Provisions for Nuclear-Armed States.