Friday 1 December was day 5 of the 2MSP in New York. Below are reports from our interns on the ground: Lucy Harrow (Pacific piece); Justine Vonpierre (Agency engagement)
TPNW & WMD Free Zone in the Middle East: Opportunities & Synergies
By Justine Vonpierre
This first side event took the form of a short presentation of the Middle East Treaty Organisation (METO) , followed by a rich and broad discussion between the three experts present (including a member of METO, a member of the International Peace Bureau and a member of the European Commission) and the public.
METO is a treaty that invite people and countries to engage with positive thoughts. It is based on consensus and encourages countries of the middle East, which are not often heard on the global stage, to cooperate to solve or avoid conflicts in the region. The middle East sadly has been experiencing a great number of conflicts for the past decade such as in Sudan, Somalia, Syria and of course Gaza.
Regarding these conflicts, METO can help because, like the TPNW, it is an intersectional treaty, covering health, environmental issues to name but a few. I'm attaching a little flyer with a QR code that was given to us, to learn more about it.
It was asked what the risks and prospects are in the current situation of Gaza and the panel answered by saying " the risk of loosing sight". The media are bombarding us with the wrong information and are un-educating us. The media are problematic because they are biased and not engaging with good news.
The good news is that in both Gaza and Israel, there are peace activists, local voices sharing messages. Also it is known that some Palestinian and Israeli mothers grieved their lost sons together.
Mexico represents another hope. It symbolises the simplicity and speed with which a state can turn away from nuclear power. Formerly under the American nuclear umbrella, it was one of the first 50 states to ratify and sign the treaty, and is a world leader in the fight for nuclear disarmament.
The US responsibility of conflicts in the middle East was approved by a lot people around the table and someone wondered how the US could adopt a more neutral position in the future.
It was asked if Turkey belongs to the METO but even though it belongs to the middle East it also belongs to NATO so it is hosting about 50 US nuclear installations on its territory and therefore doesn't belong to the METO. Which brought a member of the panel to remind us that " regions are social constructs".
We wondered: Could the BRICS countries be new negotiators of METO?
In order to close the discussion on a hopeful note someone quoted M.L. King Jr's definition of peace: " the presence of justice and the absence of fear."
Nuclear weapons and Climate: The Links
Timmon Wallis ( Warheads to windmills coalition) presented findings from his new very well documented book, "Warheads to Windmills: Preventing Climate Catastrophe and Nuclear War". His book, I quote from him, is for " campaigners on both issues to work together on treaties, divestment, boycotts, legislation, education, conversation, and more."
The focus was on the connections between international efforts to address climate change and those already in place to address nuclear weapons.
He mentioned the Cop28 just starting and the disastrous French and US American ambitions to push for the creation of new nuclear power plants. Some people in the room express their concerns about the youth being brainwashed by some West governments in believing that nuclear is a sustainable solution to the climate crisis. It is a pleasure to hear about nuclear energy as well, their ( not too green) impact on the environment and the risk they present for human life. They are inextricably bound up with nuclear weapons.
He recommended reading " No miracles needed" by Mark Jacobson who claims that having what he calls WWS( water, wind and sun) is by far enough to create energy and that we don't need to invent anything new.
In his book he explores the idea of job transfers, explaining how we could convert massive amounts of money, thoughts, idea and infrastructures from weapons of mass extinction to good jobs looking for climate solutions.
This book entails facts, among them Scottish ones, figures and tools to better convince politicians and the one resistant to nuclear abolition.
A Reflection on the 2MSP and the TPNW
By Justine Vonpierre
The Second Meeting of State Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) was an opportunity to continue discussions and negotiations towards a world free of nuclear weapons.
Following the first meeting of the States Parties in Vienna in 2022, 50 concrete measures were adopted, including an article on the verification of nuclear disarmament (Article 4), on assistance to victims and environmental rehabilitation (Articles 6 and 7) and on the universalisation of the Treaty (Article 12).
This treaty is not only inclusive but also intersectional in that it cuts across a large number of issues and sustainable development goals (SDGs), and this is what I felt this week given the very rich and diverse panels of speakers.
The presence of scientists and researchers, members of civil societies, peace activists, writers and artists, politicians, victims and representatives of countries affected by nuclear weapons tests and attacks provided an opportunity to discuss a wide range of issues relating to nuclear disarmament.
I am thinking of the humanitarian and environmental impacts, of course, but also of questions of geopolitics, historiography ( Who write history about nuclear weapons? What do they say or what do they hide and why ?), justice, economies, job transfers, victim assistance and narrative (life narrative and national narrative).
In terms of content again, perhaps the link between nuclear energy and nuclear weapons could have been further discussed.
As foreseen in the Vienna Action Plan, Actions 47 to 50 address the implementation of the gender equality provisions of the Treaty. This treaty therefore calls for gender to be integrated into all national policies, programmes and projects. In the first place, it encourages the inclusion of women from nuclear-affected communities, universities, civil society and governments in the discussions and work aiming at implementing the treaty.
This was reflected in the great diversity of women present in the discussion panels but also present to represent State Parties such as the female representatives of Mexico, Ireland, Djibouti, Tahiland, the Philippines and Cuba to name but a few.The question of gender was further developed in a side event that included a man on its panel, which is also honourable. We noted the importance for women to speak on the subject but also to highlight the inequalities between men and women related to the impact of radioactivity, women being for instance biologically more vulnerable to radiation than men.
The different life stories heard among others from survivors of Hiroshima or Japanese tests in Korea, tests in the Marshall Islands, in French Polynesia, in Kazakhstan or in the state of Oklahoma have brought emotions and compassion to the usual figures that have the opposite tend to dehumanize the disastrous impact of nuclear weapons.
Listening and sharing the stories heard to raise awareness is a wonderful way to do justice to the victims and restore the truth. Nuclear weapons are not a technological genius to applaud but an invention that continues to destroy lives unjustly and with impunity. I am thinking, for example, of the so-called jellyfish babies, babies born without bones on the Marshall Islands because of the extremely high level of radioactivity.
I personally appreciated that the panel members took turns in the audience, in evening events and in front. In fact, each speaker could be approached after a discussion that made everything very transparent and simple.There was a mutual listening that promotes learning and exchange.
Nevertheless, knowing the rather favourable position of the European Union towards the Treaty, it is deplorable, unless I am mistaken, that no one came to represent it, as much as it is deplorable that the United States, the United Kingdom, France and other European countries did not take part in the Second Meeting of State Parties, given their responsibility, if only as observers.
In a nutshell, two months ago, I felt unable to attend such an event and yet in such a short time I feel able to write or speak about it but especially to consider solutions, a proof that nuclear disarmament is neither an idealistic fiction, nor incompatible with the logic of the human mind.
Below is a list of all the participants to the 2MSP, including countries and civil society organisations, drafted by " Reaching critical will". They have a great number of resources available on their website: https://reachingcriticalwill.org/disarmament-fora/nuclear-weapon-ban/2msp/documents
Below is the YouTube link to a very exciting side event that was livestreamed, namely
"Abolishing Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Weapons: Live Update from COP28 to 2MSP!" A link up and live update between activists at the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference, the COP 28 in Dubai, and the 2nd Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, the 2MSP in New York.