Is this the year for action at the NPT?

While government’s are coming together to talk at the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), happening right now in New York. We take a look at what young people in the UK and India think about nuclear weapons and our intern Holly Lubran shares her thoughts.

Governments from all over the world are now gathering in New York to talk about nuclear weapons and review the progress of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). This treaty is currently the only legal framework for countries to work towards a world without nuclear weapons. It has been signed by 185 states across the world – including five Nuclear Weapon States known as the P5.

The treaty entered into force as international law in 1970. At the time, the NPT was considered to be the best way to de-escalate tensions at the height of the Cold War. Since then there has been much dispute about the treaty’s capacity to achieve its aims; made harder by those countries, such as Israel, India and Pakistan, that own nuclear weapons but have not signed the NPT and are therefore not legally bound by its decisions.

Despite many politicians from P5 countries waxing lyrical about their support for a nuclear-free world there has been little progress on conference agreements and NPT implementation since the last conference in 2010, such as a meeting on developing a Middle East nuclear weapon free zone that has never happened.

Now the Treaty is under mounting pressure from world leaders, campaigners and experts to take action. A new momentum is building as non-nuclear weapon states begin to make their own progress: 159 states have now endorsed a joint statement on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons.

Their timing couldn’t be better – as the 2015 NPT conference kicks off no one can forget that this year is the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where hundreds of thousands lost their lives and many more suffered the consequences of radiation sickness and social exclusion. Surely this is the year for nuclear countries to start taking the NPT seriously and make some real progress towards a world free from nuclear weapons?

As I watch the conference unfold I can’t help but wonder: why is no one really talking about nukes? Rarely do these discussions take place in mainstream UK media or start trending on Twitter. It seems that our standing as a nuclear weapon state is a given to many people. Yet, even without a nuclear catastrophe (nuclear accidents can and do happen) the ramifications of these decisions will be felt across the world for generations to come.

The reality is that in another 70 years most of the people making these decisions on our behalf will be long gone. But the younger generations will still be here and living with the outcome. So shouldn’t someone be asking us what we think? And shouldn’t we be asking ourselves seriously whether having nuclear weapons is absolutely necessary for our future survival?

This is just what WMD Awareness did recently when it spoke to young people in Delhi about their views nuclear weapons (India has nuclear weapons but has not signed the NPT). In response to this film I joined a team of young people in the UK (a member of the NPT and one of the P5) to have our say. From these films what resonated most for me was the idea that civil society must collaborate in order to move forward, but the current mode of collaboration is clearly not working.

The only way to make it work is for countries and leaders to make the debate around nuclear weapons more transparent and accessible. I am part of a team of young people who are calling on the next UK government to make sure that the decision on Trident is both of these. The UK should agree considering they have put “to enhance transparency and increase mutual confidence” as a top priority in their National Report to the NPT.

Do you agree? Leave a comment below or have your say @WMDAwareness

  • AmirDewani

    Our world leaders have utterly failed in promoting mutual trust, and in getting rid of the ‘fear-factor’. If honesty of the purpose is missing, nothing can be achieved at such NPT meetings. Let us think about it in the larger interest of world peace and tranquility. Countries like India, Pakistan and Israel where people live from hand to mouth must focus on narrowing the ‘income-inequality-gap’ instead of financing huge nuclear programs.

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