On 19 September 2017 the GCSP organized a public discussion on the topic: “Negative Security Assurances as Practical Steps towards Global Zero / A World without Nuclear Weapons” in partnership with the German Permanent Mission in Geneva.
Since the adoption of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968, nuclear-weapon states have been offering non-nuclear weapon states assurances that they would not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against them under certain conditions. The UN Security Council took note of those ‘negative security assurances’ (NSAs) in 1995 when the NPT was extended indefinitely. Since then, nuclear-weapon free zone treaties have included legally binding NSAs but the Conference on Disarmament (CD) has been unable to agree on a commonly acceptable formula. This event offered an opportunity to discuss whether the newly adopted Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons could stimulate negotiations to that end as yet another practical, interim step towards a nuclear-weapon free world.
HE Mr Michael Biontino, the German Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament, recalled that his country recently promoted some informal dialogue on that topic on the basis of a ‘non-paper’. He believed that progress on NSAs was not only needed in view of the current polarization of positions regarding nuclear disarmament but also more easily achievable (a ‘low-hanging fruit’).
The panel consisted of: Mr Paul Ingram, Executive Director, British-American Security Information Council (BASIC); Mr Łukasz Kułesa, Research Director, European Leadership Network (ELN); Dr Harald Müller, Associate Fellow, Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF); and Ms Fanny-Anh Le Hoang, Independent Researcher, Group for Research and Information on Peace and Security (GRIP). The panel was moderated by Marc Finaud, Senior Programme Advisor, GCSP.
Among the points discussed by the panellists and with the audience were the following:
In conclusion, it was felt that more dialogue was needed between nuclear- and non-nuclear weapon states, in particular bearing in mind the 2018 UN High-Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament and the 2020 NPT Review Conference.
Paul Ingram, “Renewing Interest in Negative Security Assurances”, British American Security Information Council (BASIC), June 2017
Marc Finaud, “The Debate on Negative Assurances in the Conference on Disarmament”, Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP), February 2017
Marc Finaud, “Negative Security Assurances in Additional Protocols to the Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaties,” Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP), February 2017