The First Committee

Here in New York the second week if the UN General Assembly First Committee on International Peace and Security is in full swing. The first week of 1com (some handy UN shorthand for those who scribble these words regularly) was full of the usual statements of intent. Kind words offered to the chair, desires for action on the ultimate goal of a nuclear weapons free world, hope for a speedy conclusion to an arms trade treaty next year, and more.

When it comes to the issue of nuclear weapons my ears perked up at a few statements. Austria announced that they, along with Mexico and Norway will be putting forward a resolution that would establish an open ended working group, in Geneva, on nuclear disarmament. I laughed a little bit when one diplomat accidentally called this forum the ‘General Assembly of the United States’, and I cringed when some of those nuclear weapons possessing countries failed to even allude to their obligation to disarm.

I’m spending my time here trying to highlight the importance of taking a humanitarian approach to disarmament, not only conventional weapons, but also weapons of mass destruction like nuclear weapons. To help these efforts we have worked with the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) and PeaceBoat in developing a website that illustrates the human impact of the nuclear age. The site puts a human face to the often complex nuclear issue and encourages people to act locally to break the nuclear chain. We will be launching the site in the margins of the 1com next week.

Until then, I will keep talking to governments about the need for action, not just words.

For more information, including excellent weekly summaries of 1com, see