The Non-Aligned Movement has been playing a key role in the field of disarmament and international security. At the 17th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement held in Island of Margarita, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on 17-18 September, 2016, Member States emphasised the Movement’s principled positions on nuclear disarmament, which remains its highest priority, and on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons in all its aspect as it was essential towards strengthening international peace and security. NAM has reaffirmed the importance of the relevance of the UN Disarmament Commission (UNDC) as the sole specialized, deliberative body within the UN multilateral disarmament machinery and as such NAM Member States have reiterated their full support for its work.
NAM Member States have actively participated in the UNDC and have reiterated the Movement’s principled position on disarmament, based on multilateralism. NAM firmly believes that multilateralism is the core principle of negotiations in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation. This was once again reiterated by Indonesia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement in the 2017 Substantive session of the United Nations Disarmament Commission on April 3, 2017. The Indonesian representative stated that multilateral negotiations should be used to address the concerns of proliferation and nuclear disarmament should not be conditional on confidence-building measures, non-proliferation efforts or so-called strategic stability. The Non-Aligned Movement reaffirmed the urgent need for a universal, unconditional, non-discriminatory and legally binding instrument to effectively assure all non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances, pending the total elimination of nuclear weapons. NAM believes that proliferation concerns are best addressed through multilaterally negotiated, universal, comprehensive and non-discriminatory agreements that should be transparent and open to participation by all States.
At the above mentioned session of the Disarmament Commission, other NAM Member States also emphasised the security threat posed by the nuclear weapons and stockpiling. Venezuela, speaking on behalf of NAM, expressed concerns at out a new arms race and the implications that it would have. Venezuela called for strengthening article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which commits the parties to the Treaty to “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control”.
Ivory Coast, associating itself with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement emphasised that strategies of nuclear deterrence must be excluded from national security efforts and debate must move forward to eliminate and shrink arsenals which would lead to the universalization of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Ivory Coast then highlighted the steps which it had taken towards weapons control, arsenal management and care for victims.
Bangladesh, speaking on behalf of NAM, stated that States deserved legally binding assurances from nuclear-weapon States on refraining from the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against them and emphasised that this remained a priority for Bangladesh in the contest of the draft programme of work of the Conference on Disarmament and overall multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiation. Sri Lanka stressed that the momentum created by the United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons should be used to eliminate the sense of defeatism that permeated international disarmament deliberations and to revive the diminishing interest of States towards general and complete disarmament. India, one of the founding NAM Member States, reiterated the country’s belief in the inherent values of the Disarmament Commission, in accordance with the position of NAM.
India reiterated its support for a comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons as proposed by the Non-Aligned Movement, and called for a trust-building dialogue among all States with nuclear weapons, and recommended practical confidence-building initiatives with regards to conventional weapons.
The position of NAM Member States at the 2017 session of the Disarmament Commission is thus reflective of the Movement’s position on a sustainable security paradigm for disarmament.
NAM believes that the goal of universal adherence to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, complemented by the entry into force of the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty, should remain a high priority. NAM has advocated for a framework that entails a greater engagement by democratic international organizations, as well as civil society, in addressing nuclear disarmament.
By Dr. Pawan Mathur