Over the next two weeks, WILPF will participate in the second session of the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament.

The first session was held in February and provided an opportunity for some exceptionally open and progressive discussions about the way forward for nuclear disarmament, in particular on a treaty banning nuclear weapons.

127 states have signed the Humanitarian Pledge, which commits states to “fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons”.

But while the first session of the OEWG was quite positive, we must not be complacent moving forward. Nuclear-reliant states continue to push back on the idea that a treaty banning nuclear weapons can be negotiated without the nuclear-armed states.

Yet nuclear-armed states have shown time and time again that they are not committed to the elimination of nuclear weapons, as they continue to modernise their nuclear programmes, restate the centrality of nuclear weapons in their security doctrines, and undermine every effort in the process to take forward nuclear disarmament.

We hope that the second session of the OEWG will live up to its goal, which is to “substantively address” and make recommendations to the UN General Assembly about “concrete effective legal measures, legal provisions and norms” to achieve and maintain a nuclear weapon free world.

As Ambassador Lomonaco of Mexico said at the first session of the OEWG in February, “You are either for the elimination of nuclear weapons or not. You are either for collective security or for the security of a few. There is no middle ground anymore.”

Sign up to Reaching Critical Will’s First Committee mailing list to receive daily updates during the May session of the OEWG.

To get up to speed on the humanitarian initiative, including who supports a ban and who stands in the way, and for a comprehensive overview of the OEWG, listen to this podcast by Tim Wright from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, featuring WILPF’s Disarmament Programme Director, Ray Acheson.