The 65th U.N. General Assembly on Multilateral Disarmament Treaty

September 29, 2010

By Padmini Arhant

On September 24, 2010, the United Nations held a “High-level Meeting on Revitalizing Disarmament Conference” attended by 65 nations’ dignitaries in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Conference objectives were to initiate discussions on the –

Biological and Chemical weapons,

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and,

The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) including,

START – Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms,

PAROS – Prevention of Arms Race in Outer Space and,

Last but not the least – Nuclear States threats against non-nuclear nations.

Although the statements from these organizations’ representatives and U.N. members defined the international community role and the urgency to begin nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament discourse, the session ended in an impasse.

The reason behind the unsuccessful outcome is attributed to the Multifaceted Treaty’s one aspect and that being,

The FMCT – Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty reportedly blocked by Nuclear Pakistan insisting on the Fissile Material Treaty fairness and effectiveness on the whole, an identical position shared with its Nuclear neighbor India.

The fissile material related to the plutonium and uranium enrichment for nuclear weapons capability is crucial in the disarmament dialogue to implement a Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

In fact, Pakistan’s position in this regard is absolutely legitimate and worth examining.

Pakistan’s claim that FMT mandate be internationally incorporated and multilaterally verified to accommodate the majority nuclear and non-nuclear states’ national security concerns comparable to “equal security for all,” principles is in direct alignment with India’s request.

India has raised the legitimacy and credibility factor surrounding all treaties i.e.

Non-Proliferation, Nuclear disarmament focused on FMT, PAROS, START and negative security assurances for they are all at present severely lacking in accountability and transparency among the NPT-5,

The U.S and Russia in particular as the pioneers currently in possession of over 95 percent world’s nuclear arsenal.

Poignantly, the very first nuclear disarmament and permanent ban on nuclear testing was set forth by the First Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1954 – the nuclear era with conspicuous disdain for nuclear ban proposals that is evidently prevalent until now into the twenty first century.

Subsequently, India remained persistent and called for an international convention in 1978 prohibiting the nuclear weapons use or threats against any nation followed by,

A daring initiative in 1982 submitting to the United Nations – a “Nuclear Freeze,” on fissile material production facilitating nuclear weapons and related delivery systems.

Further, in 1998 India put forward an Action Plan comprising phased elimination for all nuclear weapons and WMD within a specified timeframe setting the cornerstone in the nuclear doctrine.

None of the nuclear weapon states with far more nuclear potential responded to the cause then or for that matter now in the CD conference.

Pakistan and India share the sentiments in the non-cooperation and disingenuous display by the real players the NPT-5 with a burden of responsibility to exemplify their verbal commitments through actions that is being demonstrably evaded as the privileged Security Council members.

All the more reason for the imperativeness to expand the U.N. Security Council permanent membership with broad representation by nations such as Japan, Brazil, India, South Africa, Germany, Norway, Turkey and UAE besides the extensive diversification called for in the recent CD Summit only to be ignored denying global interest.

Had the powerful nuclear weapon states engaged in earnest participation with appropriate and definitive content mutually agreeable to third party verification in the nuclear treaty throughout the twentieth and twenty first century, the world would not be dealing with nuclear proliferation or terrorism.

Even the new START agreement between U.S and Russia signed in 2010 is subjective to ambivalence on both sides based on past experience specifically –

The exchanges with Kremlin during the former President Ronald Reagan START introduction referred to as SALT III at that time and evaluated by the American arms control advocates as;

“A deceptively equal-looking, deliberately nonnegotiable proposal that is part of what some suspect is the hardliners’ secret agenda of sabotaging disarmament so that the U.S. can get on with the business of rearmament.”

Similarly, the then Soviet Union had not disclosed the ICBM (Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles) data accurately in the submission.

Such inconclusiveness in the international security matter since the nuclear age precipitated the nuclear and conventional arms race to an unprecedented and unsustainable level.

The repetitive failed attempt to invigorate meaningful disarmament talks is a cliché in the contentious yet easily resolvable issue.

Moreover, the notion that U.S, Russia, China… are responsible nuclear states while disqualifying others from the league is a misnomer considering the status quo and proved detrimental to the nuclear deterrent policy for it encouraged defiance against compliance.

The unanimous frustration and disappointment among the non-elite nuclear states and the vulnerable non-nuclear NPT nations leads to a concrete decision in enforcing;

The universal CTBT – Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty ‘entry into force’ rule effective immediately beginning at the fissile material ban targeting both supply and production in the present and the future.

Pursuant to NPT article VI, CTBT entry by force would have a profound impact on the NPT obligations binding the NPT and non-NPT nuclear states along with non-nuclear NPT countries.

Forced entry CTBT statute would reveal the observance or the lack there of by the respective nuclear and non-nuclear States.

It would also determine the Treaty viability and the multilateral apparatus adherence to NPT apart from restricting the sophisticated nuclear weapon upgrade or new development by any or all.

A worldwide Monitoring System and a neutral committee dedicated to NPT and WMD elimination would concurrently phase out the nuclear weapon prospects and systematically retrieve the stockpiles from all parties commencing with the major stock holders i.e. United States, Russia, France, U.K. China and others.

The grievances expressed by the scapegoats earlier India and now Pakistan in the CD failure,

Arguably found in the consistent setbacks on all treaties pertaining to conventional, WMD and nuclear weapons suggesting the so-called summits frame work designed to weaken rather than strengthen the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation institutional policies aimed at the regional and international peace and security.

Given the facts on the ground with the relentless and widespread violence through warfare, the agenda do not match the false exhibits in the previous summits.

Therefore, the United Nations General Assembly members consolidated commitment to global peace and security could be made possible by –

Forging the U.N. Security Council permanent membership expansion and,

Implementing the CTBT to accomplish the non-violation and irreversible NPT complemented by strategic and general weapons substantive and complete disarmament.

The U.N. members at the general assembly could essentially review and restructure the umbrella organization policies to conform to the twenty first century in every respect.

Non-nuclear NPT and nuclear states have a unique opportunity to change the dynamics with a paradigm shift by being inclusive not exclusive in the nuclear negotiations eventually resulting in pervasive nuclear disarmament.

The ICBL (the International Campaign to Ban Landmines) treaty is also vital in the disarmament process with certain key powers not having ratified the protocol despite the staggering toll on the children and economically disadvantaged population across the globe.

Again, the collective pledge to safeguard life and the planet is guaranteed to produce the desirable result –

A peaceful, prosperous and unified world.

Good Luck and Best Wishes to the United Nations and nexus organizations for phenomenal success in the humanitarian goals.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant

Racism – The Durban II, Geneva Conference

April 26, 2009

By Padmini Arhant

The past week – April 20 -24, 2009, Geneva, Switzerland hosted ‘The Durban II conference’ on racism. The preceding event in 2001 held in Durban, South Africa marred by racial overtones and negative attacks against the state of Israel evidently led the United States and Western allies to boycott the recent U.N meeting.

It was a United Nations gathering to address the persisting contemporary discriminatory practices often transforming into persecution, oppression and even genocide in some parts of the world. According to the White House and media reports, the reason behind United States and allies’ absence at the symposium was the blue print content notably against Israel by the Islamic Republic of Iran. However, the United Nations’ assurance to eliminate any anti-Israeli inflammatory remarks from the Iranian President’s speech failed in convincing the United States, Israel and others to attend the world forum.

Meanwhile, predictably the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinijad’s rhetorical speech caused spectacle prompting other European diplomats to briefly abandon the summit. To the United Nations’ credit, the subsequent address by the Iranian President modified to reflect reality on the tragic holocaust previously denied by the political figure.

Whenever a consortium organized to deal with sensitive humanitarian issue of great magnitude, the stage is set for fireworks and doesn’t require more than a spark to ignite the flame into blazing fire. All those refuting the one nation’s contentious repetitive conduct, regrettably ignored the wide spectrum of humanitarian crises around the world. The objection against a particular nation’s demeanor effectively dismissed the urgency for unanimous solutions to global problems affecting humanity.
Further, such action conspicuously displayed hierarchy prevalent in the humanitarian priorities.

Every continent has nations with dark legacy and embarrassing episodes of human rights violation. In the new millennium, the global community challenged to empathize with those currently enduring incessant suffering due to lack of freedom, inequality, injustice including intolerance.

The Geneva conference was a great platform for the nations that boycotted the meeting exclusively the United States and Israel to express serious commitment in resolving the age-old Middle East conflict between Israel and Palestine. Any glimpse of hope in the two states solutions approved by vast majority of population on both sides with a free Palestine comprising West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem alongside the democratic Israel unequivocally accepted as a sovereign state in the entire region would have instantaneously gained credibility in the large presence of the United Nations.

Needlessly, as holocaust victims Israel was better qualified to condemn any crime against humanity and set an example by leading the world in the establishment of peace and democracy with its neighbor Palestine. Israel had a unique opportunity in Geneva to demonstrate solemn pledge and action to aid those, relevantly the Palestinians deserving similar liberty granted to Israel predominantly with the support and solidarity among the nations around the world. Israel’s unprecedented humanitarian gesture would have made it incumbent on the Arab nations at the conference to forge alliance in promoting regional unity and peace.

If the world would not have heeded to the humanitarian call for an Independent Israel, it could have resulted in the devastating annihilation of a specific human race. Likewise, South Africa proudly declaring results from a democratic election today would have succumbed to oppressive apartheid without the international community’s involvement in the freedom of that nation.

There is immense misery and extreme hardships in various parts of the world. People in these regions generally exposed to despair, depression and death at infancy consider themselves fortunate if they live beyond the short life expectancy because of poverty, disease, war and deprivation of basic human rights.

Geneva conference reached a broad based consensus against racial and gender discrimination, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia other than human rights abuses across the globe. An international assembly by governments from most parts of the world had the moment and venue to review pertinent matter concerning different nations and people. Unfortunately, the U.N committee presumably under intense pressure from nations prioritizing political agenda in their allegiance to a single ally, did not layout the importance of relieving humanity from the perpetual violence through war, invasion and occupation reminiscent of the twentieth century’s imperialism and colonialism .

Is there deficiency in related topics involving the remaining population on the planet seeking entitlement to the international representation, rescue and relief from burgeoning crimes against innocent civilians?

Only if rationality and utilitarianism prevailed over popular political dogma of individualism, the desirable goals for fairness and justice are attainable in human affairs.

Is the struggle for peace and independence by the population in Palestine, Burma, Tibet, and North Korea any less significant than the international feud between Israel and Iran?

What about the status quo of civil wars contributing to genocides in Rwanda, Darfur, Congo and other parts of Africa?

Should the world ignore the escalating ethnic cleansing in Sri Lanka as an internal matter rather than an international moral issue?

Where was the denunciation of the pervasive Taliban abuse of women in Afghanistan now dangerously spreading to the Northwestern regions of Pakistan?

Why did the summit not extensively focus on the various abuses in Latin, Central and South America and China, notwithstanding the denial of equal status to women in the Middle East and other Islamic nations?

On the generic concept of racism, xenophobia – typically the fear of the unknown, homophobia – the overt hate crimes against gay and trans-gender community and other horrific incidents in human trafficking, child pornography and numerous offenses were excluded during the five-day long international meeting.

Apparently, the interpretation of ‘tolerance’ in the crimes against humanity is subject to the relationship among existing and emerging economic and political powers in the global society.

The protocol on protests, boycott and co-operation alike varies depending on the nations along with political and economic repercussions arising from such action.

For example, the Iranian President’s controversial stance against Israel held responsible for the Western nations’ boycott of the latest Geneva conference on racism while implying the other attendees’ motive questionable.

Nevertheless, the human rights activists’ plea to boycott the 2008 Beijing Olympics to draw attention towards the plight of the Tibetan population persecuted by the hour and suppression of the democracy movement in the People’s Republic of China rejected by the participating nations prominently those who recently boycotted the Geneva conference.

It is widespread knowledge that the emerging economic power China being the treasury and
Exchequer for the world economy, a nuclear nation possessing veto power routinely exercised against common benefit in the U.N. Security Council decisions, privileged with supreme diplomatic immunity in all things inhumane.

In the recent G-20 summit, call for globalization over protectionism dominated the theme for global economic revival. Synonymously, in the environmental matter and international security collective effort embraced as a successful strategy. Henceforth, collaborative action regarded imminent to resolve international crises.

Ironically, abstaining from leadership at the summit to formulate policies in the restoration of human rights, freedom and civil liberties, the fundamental requirements for peace, progress and prosperity, creates a vacuum rather than serving the real purpose.

History is testimony to the rise and fall of civilizations that fair well when guided by wisdom, compassion and courage for universal good.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant