Nuclear Taboo from Norm to Law presented to the NPT Prep Com

As nuclear threats remain high from high tensions and/or armed conflict in Europe, East Asia and globally, States Parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty are meeting for two weeks (July 31-August 11) at the UN in Vienna in a Preparatory Committee Meeting (NPT Prep Com) for the 2026 NPT Review Conference.

Today, at a special plenary meeting of the 2023 NPT Prep Com, NoFirstUse Global Steering Committee Member John Hallam presented the Declaration of Public Conscience Nuclear Taboo from Norm to Law, to the participating States Parties and civil society representatives.

“The risk of nuclear weapons use is higher than at any time since the depths of the cold war.” said Mr Hallam introducing the Declaration. “A major, though not the only, contributor to that risk has been the stream of explicit and implicit nuclear threats emanating from one single Government (Russia).”

“However, there is one bright spot,” said Mr Hallam. “The taboo against use of nuclear weapons, in spite of – or because of – the threats emanating from one government, has received a massive upgrade. On November 17th leaders of the G20 – which includes six nuclear armed states, seven states in alliances with nuclear-weapon states and six nonaligned/neutral states – declared that “The threat of use or use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible.”

“The G20 statement indicates a breakthrough in consolidating a general practice against nuclear weapons use and elevating this to a norm now accepted, at least on paper, by the nuclear weapon states,” said Mr Hallam. “It is vital that this ‘breakthrough’ be reaffirmed in as many forums as possible – here at the 2023 NPT Preparatory Committee, at UNGA First Committee, or else at succeeding G7 and G20 meetings, such as the upcoming one in Delhi.”

In presenting Nuclear Taboo From Norm to Law to the NPT Prep Com, Mr Hallam reported that the declaration has been endorsed by over 1100 notables – former Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers, Defence Ministers and legislators, academics, scientists, religious leaders, youth and representatives of civil society organizations.

The declaration “calls on the United Nations, through decisions of its Security Council and General Assembly, to enshrine this stance as a dictate of international law and to require all member states to comply fully, in order to ensure their security policies and practices rule-out the initiation of nuclear war including any first-use of nuclear weapons.”

The working paper which NoFirstUse Global submitted to the 2022 NPT Review Conference, No-First Use of Nuclear Weapons: An Exploration of Unilateral, Bilateral and Plurilateral Approaches and their Security, Risk-reduction and Disarmament Implications, provides practical approaches for taking forward such policies.

The advent of this qualitatively diminished role for nuclear weapons would enhance the prospects for establishing a nuclear weapon-free world, and should be used with utmost determination to achieve that essential goal,” concluded Mr Hallam.

(Click here for Mr Hallam’s full presentation).