Day 1 – 12 May 2014

By Ophelia Zenz

Overview

Panel on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear wepaons

Lecture by Atomic Reporters

Outcomes of the PrepCom for the 2015 NPT Review Conference

The Hague Code of Conduct

Panel on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear wepaons

The morning session of the 1st day started at the premises of the United Nations Youth and Student Association of Austria – Academic Forum for Foreign Affairs with a panel on what could represent a new drive for disarmament: the humanitarian consequences of a nuclear war. Supported in particular by non-nuclear-weapon states and civil society, this pacifist initiative is increasingly gaining momentum. The panel was headed by representatives of leading organizations in the field, such as Mr. Klaus Renoldner from the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), Mr. Bernhard Schneider from the Austrian Red Cross (ÖRK) and Mr. Markus Woltran from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

During the panel, it was highlighted that focusing on the humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons shifts the perspective away from the security interests of states and sheds light on those who would be most affected by nuclear warfare: human beings. Questions about the contradictory relationship between nuclear armament and the principles and rules of international humanitarian law were elaborated. Furthermore, the disastrous short and long-term impacts of nuclear weapons explosions such as climate change and famine were discussed in more detail.

The 3rd International conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, which will take place in Vienna in December 2014, was briefly introduced and its possible difficulties as well as general expectations were highlighted.

Lecture by Atomic Reporters

Following the panel discussion, a lecture was given by Mr. Peter Rickwood from Atomic Reporters, a civil society organization that aims to facilitate information, education and training in the area of nuclear technology for journalists. None or insufficient knowledge of nuclear technology often results in false claims in the media. This phenomenon was especially visible leading up to the 2nd Gulf War in Iraq. Mr. Rickwood stated that not only the media, but also the broader public should be aware of various aspects of nuclear technologies. Atomic Reporters strives to close this knowledge gap.

Lunch-time break in the Vienna Volksgarten

Gruppe klein

© by Franz Josef Danner

Outcomes of the PrepCom for the 2015 NPT Review Conference

The afternoon session took place at the Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs. Ambassador Alexander Kmentt, Director of the Department for Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation gave a briefing on the outcomes of the Third Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) from 28 April to 9 May 2014 in New York. Asymmetrical aspects of the NPT were explained. It was stressed that the NPT is in a critical phase, where non-nuclear-weapon states want to see more commitment towards disarmament by nuclear-weapon states. Although the non-proliferation norm remains strong, this might change if double standards about the three pillars of the NPT, namely non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament and the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, continue to persist. Ambassador Kmentt reported that fragmentation is growing between nuclear Haves and Have-Nots, as is mirrored in the humanitarian consequences initiative. The third session of the Preparatory Committee signalled that connecting complex negotiations on the pillars of the NPT to a wider public could have a positive development in achieving nuclear disarmament.

Nuclear Politics 2014 Study Group in front of the Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs

Gruppe groß

© by Franz Josef Danner

The Hague Code of Conduct

The 2nd afternoon briefing was given by Mr. Ronald Sturm on the Hague Code of Conduct on Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCoC). Since neither the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), NPT nor any other disarmament treaty covers ballistic missiles, regulations in this area were needed. However, as Mr. Sturm stated, the HCoC is only a normative instrument and not a legally binding treaty and therefore only works as a transparency and confidence building mechanism. An underlying problem with regard to the efficacy of the instrument and continuous unannounced ballistic missiles testing is due to its lacking universal ratification, Mr. Sturm admittedly noted.

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