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  • Position : Research fellow
  • Affiliation : PIR Center
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The Security Index Journal: Alyona Mahukova on the humanitarian initiative in the NPT review process.

08.07.2016

MOSCOW, JULY 8, 2016. PIR PRESS "Rapidly growing anti-nuclear coalition, which includes countries officially supporting the Humanitarian pledge or the statements on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, deserves to be substantively studied both theoretically as a stark example of several informal associations of states within the framework of an international treaty, and practically, as an important international relations factor of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament", — Alyona Makhukova, PIR Center's Research Fellow.

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons entered into force in 1970. Forty-six years ago the signatories realized the grave danger of the use of nuclear weapons and the need to limit the nuclear arms race in the world. The Treaty empowered only five countries with the right to possess nuclear weapons. The members of the "Nuclear Club" expressed their intention to take effective measures towards nuclear disarmament. Thus, during the cold war there appeared an idea according to which the ultimate objective of disarmament should be complete elimination of nuclear weapons worldwide.
Subsequently, this idea was expressed by many politicians and statespersons. In 1986 a program of transition to a nuclear-free world was advanced by Mikhail Gorbachev. In the twenty-first century the initiative was taken up by the "Global Zero" movement, founded by prominent members of the American foreign policy and military circles as well as the expert community. Moreover, attempts to speed up the process of getting rid of nuclear weapons was undertaken during the review process of the NPT and the UN Conference on disarmament. However, despite all the efforts of the international community, the number of nuclear warheads, ready to plunge the world into chaos within the shortest time, still amounts to thousands of units. As a result, governmental and non-governmental actors dissatisfied with the pace of disarmament have teamed up and created the Humanitarian initiative, reminding the world about the catastrophic effects of nuclear weapons and proposing to outlaw it altogether.

The article by the PIR Center's Research Fellow Alyona Makhukova "Humanitarian Initiative: a Critical Mass of Anti-Nuclear Activists” (the article is available in Russian) examines in detail the current trends in the NPT review process, describes the formation, development and decay of different coalitions inside it and shows how the attitude towards nuclear weapons in the world is changing under the impact of humanitarian rhetoric. According to the expert: "We can say that the countries that supported the humanitarian position have generally achieved their objectives: they have introduced a new type of rhetoric and initiated a discussion in government circles and the expert community on a new paradigm that would replace the notions of strategic stability and nuclear deterrence".
In particular, the article focuses on the informal groups of countries and non-governmental organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, the peculiarities of their views on nuclear disarmament and the process of coordinating their positions under the NPT Review Conference and beyond. "Rapidly growing anti-nuclear coalition, which includes countries officially supporting the Humanitarian pledge or the statements on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, deserves to be substantively studied both theoretically as a stark example of several informal associations of states within the framework of an international treaty, and practically, as an important international relations factor of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament", — the author states. The expert also considers the shortcomings of the NPT review process in its current form and concludes that "The NPT review process was negatively affected as humanitarian forums were seen as an alternative platform to discuss different issues of disarmament and to advance the respective agenda".

 The article will be published in the next issue of the Security Index Journal №1 (116) 2016.

For all questions related to the “Security Index” journal, Editor-in-Chief Olga Mostinskaya is available at +7 (495) 987 19 15 or via email at mostinskaya at pircenter.org.

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