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Roundtable Discussion on the 2018 High-Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament

On 13 September 2017, the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) co-organised a roundtable discussion with government and civil society representatives on “Visions for the 2018 High-Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament”.

This event was co-sponsored by the Basel Peace Office, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (PNND), Middle Powers Initiative, UnFold Zero, World Future Council, and the Global Security Institute. The panellists were: Mr Alyn Ware, PNND Global Coordinator, UNFOLD ZERO Co-founder; HE Mr Mohsen Naziri Asl, Permanent Representative of Iran to the UN in Geneva; HE Dr Matthew Rowland, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva; and HE Mr Robbert Gabrielse, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the Conference on Disarmament. The roundtable was conducted under Chatham House rule.


It was recalled that, in 2013, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution (submitted by the Non-Aligned Movement) which decided to hold a High-Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament (UNHLC) no later than 2018. Recent UN High-Level Conferences have had considerable success, adopting the Sustainable Development Goals (2015), Paris Agreement on Climate Change (2016), New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants (2016) and the 14-Point Action Plan to Protect the Oceans (2017). Parliaments and civil society are already active in promoting the 2018 UNHLC on Nuclear Disarmament. This includes questions in national parliaments and a resolution adopted by the 56 member-parliaments of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation (OSCE)  in Europe urging all OSCE governments to participate in the UNHLC at the highest level, and to adopt nuclear-risk reduction and disarmament measures at the conference. Speakers expressed different views regarding their expectations about what the UNHLC could produce. The current tensions and divisions about crises such as the one in the Korean Peninsula or positions regarding the Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons were mentioned as potential obstacles to progress in nuclear disarmament. However, some participants suggested actions that could be taken or announced at the UNHLC that did not require unanimous consent but could pave the way for nuclear disarmament. One useful approach could be the “gift basket” option implemented at the Nuclear Security Summits.