Since the inception of the Non Aligned Movement, the NAM Member States have adhered to the principle of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. The stance on disarmament has been a recurring theme at all the NAM summits. In multilateral forums like the United Nations too, NAM has been actively participating in the non-proliferation initiatives.

On 26th September 2017, in the High Level Meeting of the UN General Assembly on the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapon, NAM Member States supported the convening of an international conference on nuclear disarmament at the United Nations. Speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Jorge Arreaza, Venezuela’s Minister for Foreign Affairs remarked: “As long as nuclear weapons exist, the risk of proliferation exist”. Arreaza said that the total and absolute elimination of nuclear weapons must be achieved because the use of such weapons was a crime against humanity. In making efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, NAM reaffirmed support for using multilateral diplomacy in the negotiations to reach disarmament and non-proliferation goals.

India, associating itself with the Non-Aligned Movement said that it was committed to the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world and the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. Syed Akbaruddin, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN remarked: “There is a need for a meaningful dialogue among all States possessing nuclear weapons to build trust and confidence” and to reduce the salience of such weapons in international affairs and security doctrines”.

India reiterated NAM’s principled position that the Conference on Disarmament was the only appropriate platform for negotiations. India stood ready to commence talks within that body aimed at developing a comprehensive nuclear weapons convention along the lines of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction. India also supported beginning talks on a fissile material cut-off treaty. Noting that increasing restraints on the use of nuclear weapons would reduce the probability of their use — whether deliberate, unintentional or accidental — India pointed out that it’s resolutions in the First Committee on measures to reduce nuclear danger and on a convention on the prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons had received broad support among Member States.

Bangladesh, associating itself with the statement of the Non-Aligned Movement pressed deep concerns over repeated nuclear weapons testing by a Member State in violation of relevant Security Council resolution and concerned to scale down provocations and de-escalate tensions in the interest of finding solutions through dialogue and negotiations.

Jamaica voiced support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as an important addition to the world’s existing disarmament instrument and called for a United Nations high-level international conference on nuclear disarmament to be convened no later than 2018. Jamaica expressed concerns at the additional risks posed by non-State actors with the means, resolve and determination to secure of weapons of mass destruction.

Chile said that that coexistence in a world without nuclear weapons was possible, and that maintaining peace and security without resorting to nuclear deterrence was not only possible, but an ethical imperative.

Timor Leste associated itself with NAM’s position on convening a conference on disarmament said that the world was facing numerous challenges and injustices, including threats from such weapons, which were “part of our daily reality”. Recalling that the world had once witnessed the catastrophic effects of the use of nuclear weapons, Timor Leste stressed that all methods should be employed to ensure that they were never used again, emphasizing that both dialogue and prevention would be critical in that regard.

NAM Member States have reaffirmed the importance of the Conference on Disarmament as the sole multilateral negotiating body on disarmament, and reiterated their call to convene such a conference at its earliest by 2018 in order to agree on a balanced and comprehensive program of work by, inter alia, establishing an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament as soon as possible and as the highest priority.

By Dr. Ankit Srivastava