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Treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons ─ the 'Ban Treaty'

17-01-2018

On 7 July 2017, the United Nations (UN) conference to negotiate a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (the Ban Treaty), by 122 votes to 1, with one abstention. The treaty will come into force once 50 states have ratified it; so far it has been signed by 56 states and ratified by three. The adoption of the Ban Treaty has been hailed as historic by supporters of an initiative that has gained ground in recent years to rid the ...

On 7 July 2017, the United Nations (UN) conference to negotiate a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (the Ban Treaty), by 122 votes to 1, with one abstention. The treaty will come into force once 50 states have ratified it; so far it has been signed by 56 states and ratified by three. The adoption of the Ban Treaty has been hailed as historic by supporters of an initiative that has gained ground in recent years to rid the world of the most destructive weapon known to humankind. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which spearheaded these efforts, was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. However, opponents of the Ban Treaty argue that the conditions for disarmament do not currently exist and that promoters of the Ban Treaty fail to recognise this. They also point to weaknesses in the drafting of the treaty, and to the danger of undermining the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), recognised as the cornerstone of the global non-proliferation and disarmament regime, also by proponents of the Ban Treaty. The nine states known to have military nuclear programmes did not attend the conference. Member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), which in 2016 re-confirmed a commitment to nuclear deterrence, also stayed away, with the exception of the Netherlands, which voted against the adoption of the Ban Treaty. This raises serious doubts about the impact of this new instrument and its ability to create normative values. Most EU Member States, 22 of which are members of NATO, oppose the Ban Treaty, and only five non-NATO EU Member States voted in favour. The European Parliament welcomed the convening of a conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, noting that this would reinforce the non-proliferation and disarmament objectives and obligations contained in the NPT.

EU–Kazakhstan Partnership Agreement

05-12-2017

In December 2017, the European Parliament is due to vote on whether to give consent to an Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with Kazakhstan, which would replace a 1995 agreement.

In December 2017, the European Parliament is due to vote on whether to give consent to an Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with Kazakhstan, which would replace a 1995 agreement.

Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention

28-10-2016

The Eighth Review Conference of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction, better known as the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), takes place in Geneva from 7 to 25 November 2016. Together with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), the BTWC provides the foundation of the disarmament and non-proliferation framework in the area ...

The Eighth Review Conference of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction, better known as the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), takes place in Geneva from 7 to 25 November 2016. Together with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), the BTWC provides the foundation of the disarmament and non-proliferation framework in the area of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The Convention opened for signature on 10 April 1972 and has been ratified by 175 states parties, including all EU Member States. Lack of a verification mechanism weakens the Convention, but at present, terrorist use of biological weapons may actually pose the greater threat to public security.

Illicit small arms and light weapons: International and EU action

13-07-2015

Small arms and light weapons (SALW) are one of the main instruments of armed violence around the world, both in conflict and non-conflict situations, with significant impact on entire societies from a humanitarian and socio-economic point of view. The international community, in particular the United Nations, has identified the proliferation and traffic of illicit SALW as an important field of action, and in this context, it has established a binding framework to prevent, combat and ultimately ...

Small arms and light weapons (SALW) are one of the main instruments of armed violence around the world, both in conflict and non-conflict situations, with significant impact on entire societies from a humanitarian and socio-economic point of view. The international community, in particular the United Nations, has identified the proliferation and traffic of illicit SALW as an important field of action, and in this context, it has established a binding framework to prevent, combat and ultimately eradicate the illicit trade in SALW in all its aspects. The main political process – the UN Programme of Action – emerged from the disarmament and arms control agenda, while the legally binding Firearms Protocol is part of international law enforcement cooperation. Recently, the Arms Trade Treaty has made a significant addition to the efforts of regulating trade in SALW. The European Union is an active promoter of the instruments and processes aimed at fighting against illicit SALW: it has created its own policy framework on firearms and SALW, it is a staunch supporter of norms at international level and an important provider of assistance to countries around the world to deal with the illicit trade and proliferation of SALW.

China’s Foreign Policy and External Relations

07-07-2015

This study provides an overview of China’s current approach to foreign policy and external relations. It focuses more particularly on the role and actions of China in global governance, its territorial claims and relations with countries in Asia, and its emergence as an important actor in Central and Eastern Europe as well as in the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood. It assesses the implications for the EU and makes recommendations on how the EU should deepen its strategic partnership with China. The study ...

This study provides an overview of China’s current approach to foreign policy and external relations. It focuses more particularly on the role and actions of China in global governance, its territorial claims and relations with countries in Asia, and its emergence as an important actor in Central and Eastern Europe as well as in the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood. It assesses the implications for the EU and makes recommendations on how the EU should deepen its strategic partnership with China. The study argues that China has not made a unilateral and exclusive turn towards assertiveness in its foreign policy. China’s foreign policy assertiveness represents a policy choice that should be understood in the broader context of its external relations, which is one of uncertainty. Both the impact of China’s emergence in international affairs and the use China intends to make of its power and influence remain uncertain. This uncertainty is explained by the interdependence between a number of international and domestic factors as well as by the absence of a grand strategy. The uncertainty in China’s foreign policy opens avenues for the EU to influence China and further deepen the scope of the EU-China Strategic Partnership.

Russia: Arms control and non-proliferation

22-06-2015

Arms control and non-proliferation agreements are an important part of Europe's post-Cold War security order, now looking increasingly fragile due to the Ukraine crisis. Numerous concerns have been raised about Russia's commitments on weapons of mass destruction and conventional arms.

Arms control and non-proliferation agreements are an important part of Europe's post-Cold War security order, now looking increasingly fragile due to the Ukraine crisis. Numerous concerns have been raised about Russia's commitments on weapons of mass destruction and conventional arms.

CBRN terrorism: threats and the EU response

16-01-2015

Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) terrorism is a form of terrorism involving the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Following 11th September 2001, the interna¬tional community came to believe there was a high probability that terrorists would make use of such weapons. The growing number of people familiar with CBRN warfare techniques and the spread of scientific knowledge, coupled with poor security of relevant facilities, could facilitate terrorists in getting hold ...

Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) terrorism is a form of terrorism involving the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Following 11th September 2001, the interna¬tional community came to believe there was a high probability that terrorists would make use of such weapons. The growing number of people familiar with CBRN warfare techniques and the spread of scientific knowledge, coupled with poor security of relevant facilities, could facilitate terrorists in getting hold of CBRN weapons. Terrorist groups have already shown interest in acquiring them. However, so far, there have been very few successful CBRN attacks and the number of casualties remains relatively low. This is partly due to the fact that obtaining or creating WMD is challenging, while conventional weapons can be more easily acquired. The international community has reacted to CBRN threats through a series of instruments, most of them under the aegis of the UN. The EU has also been gradually building its counter-terrorism capacity. The 2010 CBRN Action Plan – the core element of the Commission's new policy package – has been extensively commented on by the European Parliament.

The Arms Trade Treaty: Finally an outcome and what next?

29-05-2013

The fruit of years of negotiations and intensive civil society campaigning, the recent agreement of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) has been widely presented as a major achievement. Exceptionally it was adopted by resolution of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The wide scope of the treaty, which includes small arms and light weapons (SALW) and, to some extent ammunition, alongside the main conventional arms has satisfied most stakeholders. The major hindrance for the impact of the ATT relates ...

The fruit of years of negotiations and intensive civil society campaigning, the recent agreement of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) has been widely presented as a major achievement. Exceptionally it was adopted by resolution of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The wide scope of the treaty, which includes small arms and light weapons (SALW) and, to some extent ammunition, alongside the main conventional arms has satisfied most stakeholders. The major hindrance for the impact of the ATT relates to uncertainty about its global relevance.

Human Rights Implications of the Usage of Drones and Unmanned Robots in Warfare

03-05-2013

In recent years, the use of drones and other unmanned robots in warfare and other situations of violence has increased exponentially, and States continue to invest significantly into increasing the operational autonomy of such systems. The present study provides an overview of the current and likely future use of such systems and examines the relevant legal implications under human rights law, international humanitarian law and the UN Charter. The study concludes that the present sense of uncertainty ...

In recent years, the use of drones and other unmanned robots in warfare and other situations of violence has increased exponentially, and States continue to invest significantly into increasing the operational autonomy of such systems. The present study provides an overview of the current and likely future use of such systems and examines the relevant legal implications under human rights law, international humanitarian law and the UN Charter. The study concludes that the present sense of uncertainty as to the applicable legal standards, the rapid development and proliferation of drone and robotic technology, and the perceived lack of transparency and accountability of current policies have the potential of polarizing the international community, undermining the rule of law and, ultimately, of destabilizing the international security environment as a whole. Accordingly, the study develops the following policy recommendations for European foreign policy: 1. First, the EU should make the promotion of the rule of law in relation to the development, proliferation and use of unmanned weapons systems a declared priority of European foreign policy. 2. In parallel, the EU should launch a broad inter-governmental policy dialogue aiming to achieve international consensus: (a) on the legal standards governing the use of currently operational unmanned weapon systems, and (b) on the legal constraints and/or ethical reservations which may apply with regard to the future development, proliferation and use of increasingly autonomous weapon systems. 3. Based on the resulting international consensus, the EU should work towards the adoption of a binding international agreement, or a non-binding code of conduct, aiming to restrict the development, proliferation or use of certain unmanned weapon systems in line with the legal consensus achieved.

Autor extern

Nils MELZER (Geneva Centre for Security Policy - GCSP and Swiss Chair of International Humanitarian Law, Geneva Academy - ADH)

Bio-Preparedness : Responding to the Threat of Biological Weapons

07-04-2009

Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) weapons – also often termed ‘unconventional’ weapons or ‘weapons of mass destruction’ – are a class of weapons that have the potential to kill thousands of people and disrupt vital financial, communications, and transportation systems. Yet, to date no such ‘superterrorism’ incidents have taken place. This report focuses on biological weapons because these are the weapons often considered to have the greatest potential to kill in the most massive ...

Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) weapons – also often termed ‘unconventional’ weapons or ‘weapons of mass destruction’ – are a class of weapons that have the potential to kill thousands of people and disrupt vital financial, communications, and transportation systems. Yet, to date no such ‘superterrorism’ incidents have taken place. This report focuses on biological weapons because these are the weapons often considered to have the greatest potential to kill in the most massive numbers and the highest likelihood of being used. It considers the threat they pose by illustrating the technical challenges of weaponising and disseminating a disease-causing biological agent, and it describes the few terrorist attempts there have been to use biological weapons against humans. The report also notes that, because there have been so few historical cases of terrorist use, fictitious scenarios have often been adopted as a means by which to assess the threat of bioterrorism, to explore the potential consequences of an attack, and to develop appropriate response mechanisms.

Autor extern

Filippa Lentzos (BIOS Centre, London School of Economics, London, United Kingdom)

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