New texts on the table!

On Tuesday, the President of nuclear ban treaty negotiations circulated a second draft of the treaty. This new text is a good basis for continuing negotiations- and the excitement in the conference room to get the treaty adopted by 7 July was felt by everyone. Tonight (Friday), several updated versions were released of different sections of the text- prohibitionsdeclarations, safeguards & stockpile elimination, positive obligations, and institutional issues.


The new full text showed significant progress on the preamble. The references to international humanitarian law and international human rights law are strengthened from the original version, although a specific reference to international environmental law is still missing. The paragraphs on the impact of nuclear weapons on women and girls are now very good, as is the inclusion of a reference to the need to make all efforts to include women in all nuclear weapons related negotiations.

General obligations

The general obligations of the treaty have not yet been revised, though the first read through of the text showed that a significant number of states want to see the inclusion of military preparation for the use of nuclear weapons in the treaty, as well as references to finance- either explicitly or as an understood form of assistance to the production and development of nuclear weapons. As South Africa stated during the first read through “in our view financing is implicitly covered in the sub articles and any state that knowingly engages in such activities would be in contravention of its obligations under this treaty.” Negotiations will continue on the specific activities that should be prohibited under the treaty.

PAX organized a side event on the issue of financing on 29 June. Panelists Bonnie Docherty (Harvard Human Rights Clinic), Susi Snyder and Maaike Beenes (both PAX) discussed the legal framework and precedent related to the financing of producers of prohibited weapons, past practice and experience around prohibiting the financing of banned weapons and the impact it has had. In addition, they discussed what practice exists regarding the financing of nuclear weapons producers and what best practices exist to learn from for national implementation of the upcoming prohibition.

Safeguards & Verification

Safeguards are agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that are designed to make sure nuclear materials that could be used for nuclear weapons aren’t. There are a lot of different types of safeguards agreements, and one of the questions for negotiators is how to make states that join this treaty do not in any way reduce their existing obligations. The Friday night text has shown a lot of positive movement towards reinforcing existing safeguards, while still leaving space open for future developments. Work still needs to be done to make sure the requirements for declarations, safeguards and verification are simple yet effective, but the text is definitely heading in the right direction.

Positive Obligations

Weapons prohibitions deal with how the victims of use of those weapons should be helped, and the different responsibilities. A quick look at the Friday night update looks like things are moving in a good direction. It is very important that this treaty make it clear that when nuclear weapons hurt people or the environment, there is a responsibility to deal with the damage (to the extent that its possible- and we all know nuclear weapons cause un-reparable damage). The Friday text is looking good, still needs some work, but it seems that this Treaty will include some positive human rights and humanitarian obligations.

Institutional Issues

The Friday night document included some revisions around institutional issues- the parts of the treaty that deals with meetings of states parties, where and when it will get signed, the duration and so forth. Some changes were made after discussions took place, but there is still work needed especially on the withdrawal provisions and a few other areas as well.

Negotiations are continuing, and it’s likely that there will be some work on the weekend leading to a new text Monday evening. Overall, things are moving along at a fast pace, in lots of different parts towards adoption of a treaty banning nuclear weapons next week.

Stay tuned…..