You are here: NPT fails to reach consensus amid growing calls for disarmament

27 May 2015

The 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference concluded on 22 May without reaching consensus on an official outcome document. 

The proposed document, which would have been one of the weakest disarmament outcomes in the NPT's recent history, was eventually blocked by the US with backing from the UK and Canada due to disagreement over a proposed conference on the establishment of a Middle East weapons of mass destruction-free zone (MEWMDFZ).  According to Barbara Crossette of PassBlue:

"What spurred the collapse of consensus was a bid by Arab states, led by Egypt, to convene a regional conference, apparently whether or not Israel attended, to chart a course that would culminate in the removal of all weapons of mass destruction from the Middle East by 2016."

Click here for more on the proposed MEWMDFZ

Throughout the four weeks of talks there was frustration among many non-nuclear weapons states with the extent that the process was dominated by the interests of the nuclear weapons states and their allies.  Such views have led to questions over the transparency and democratic credentials of the NPT -  a Treaty seen by the UK and others as the cornerstone of the non-proliferation regime.

Dissatisfaction from non-nuclear weapons states with the slow pace of disarmament is reflected by the growing number of states endorsing the Humanitarian Pledge to work towards the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.

The Humanitarian Pledge, now signed by over 100 countries, is based on the premise that any use of nuclear weapons in populated areas would have wide-ranging and unacceptable humanitarian consequences, including those relating to health, environment, climate, development and the global economy.  It is thought the pledge will lead to a new process to develop a legally-binding instrument prohibiting nuclear weapons.

We hope the UK will engage constructively with the humanitarian consequences movement and will take the opportunity presented by the upcoming Strategic Defence and Security Review to consider its own nuclear posture in relation to the security threats facing the UK as well as its international disarmament obligations. 

Click here to read UNA-UK's letter to the Foreign Secretary on engaging with the humanitarian consequences movement