5. All states shall ratify and fully implement the Arms Trade Treaty

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Rapporteur: César Jaramillo

The Arms Trade Treaty

The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is a multilateral, legally binding agreement, aimed at regulating the global trade in conventional weapons. Illicit and irresponsible transfers of conventional weapons are widely recognized to be a significant factor in human suffering worldwide, fueling armed violence in all its forms. The ATT intends to develop a universal framework for responsible decision-making at the national level on the transfer of conventional weapons.

The two primary objectives of the ATT are to “Establish the highest possible common international standards for regulating or improving the regulation of the international trade in conventional arms” and to “Prevent and eradicate the illicit trade in conventional arms and prevent their diversion”.

Three purposes are identified under these objectives:

  1. Contributing to international and regional peace, security and stability;
  2. Reducing human suffering;
  3. Promoting cooperation, transparency and responsible action by States Parties in the international trade in conventional arms, thereby building confidence among States Parties.

The ATT is strongly founded on humanitarian principles. A proportion of the global arms trade, which is estimated to be worth up to $100-billion annually, is known to enable the violation of human rights and international humanitarian law, to sustain autocratic regimes, to exacerbate armed conflict, and to be a factor for regional instability.

Rather than proscribe transfers of any one category of conventional weapons, the ATT delineates the circumstances under which arms exports would be prohibited, for example, in violation of UN Security Council sanctions or arms embargoes. Central to the rationale for the ATT is the nexus between the end-use or end-user of arms exports and the risk of their misuse.

In simple terms, exporting states ought not to authorize arms exports when there is a risk that they may be misused.

While the ATT specifically prohibits certain arms transfers when a risk of misuse is identified, it is understood to be an arms control regime, not a disarmament one. In fact, the Treaty explicitly recognizes the licit trade in conventional weapons as a legitimate pursuit for arms exporting states and focuses its restrictions on illicit, irresponsible and/or unscrupulous arms transfers.

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1. All states owning or hosting nuclear weapons shall immediately de-alert them and commit to no-first-use

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Rapporteur: Barbara Birkett

Where We Are: “Two Minutes to Midnight”! –see The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (The Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists Doomsday Clock, 2019.)

According to the Federation of American Scientists(1), the world has 14,485 nuclear weapons, about 9335 of them in military stockpiles, ready for use, the rest awaiting dismantlement. Some 93% are owned by the US and Russia, with each having about 4,000 warheads in their stockpiles. Many of these are thirty or fifty or more times as lethal as the weapons that fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki!

About 3,750 are with operational forces; 1,940 US, Russian, British, and French warheads are on high alert.

No-First-Use (NFU) has been declared as a policy by China and India; in 1993 the latter country stated that it would respond massively to any size of nuclear attack and changed the wording to “no first use against non-nuclear armed weapons states” in 2010.

France, Pakistan, Russia, the UK, and the USA say they will use nuclear weapons against nuclear or non-nuclear states only in the case of invasion or other attack against their territories or against one of their allies. In 2017 the UK stated it would use nuclear weapons in a pre-emptive strike “in the most extreme circumstances.”

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6. UN Convention on CCW and all states shall prohibit developing or deploying lethal autonomous weapons.

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Rapporteurs: Erin Hunt and Gerardo Lebron Laboy, Mines Action Canada

I. THE PROBLEM

Lethal Autonomous Weapons (LAWs) refers to future weapons that would select their targets and engage (kill) based on their programming. They will be “autonomous” in the sense that they would not require human intervention to actuate (act or operate according to its programming).(1) Being solely algorithmic driven, LAWs will be able to kill without any human interference or oversight.

The following arguments have been offered in support of the development of LAWs:

LAWs technology could offer better military performance and thus enhance mission effectiveness
  • LAWs, being a product of robotics, could be faster, stronger, and have better endurance than human soldiers in every perspective, not being subject to fatigue.
  • Better environmental awareness; robotic sensors could provide better battlefield observation.
  • Higher and longer range precision: Also, given advanced sensor technology, LAWs could have better target precision and a longer range.
  • Better responsiveness: LAWs will not be subject to the uncertainty in situational awareness that participants in military operations may go through because of communication problems or sight or vision obstructions (fog of war). Through an interconnected system of multiple sensors and intelligence sources, LAWs could have the capacity to update instantly more information than humans and faster, which would enable better awareness of their surroundings.
  • Emotionless advantage: LAWs would not have emotions that cloud their judgement.
  • Self sacrificing nature: LAWs would not have a self-preservation tendency and thus could be used in self sacrificing manners if needed and appropriate.
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4. All states shall develop a UN Emergency Peace Service to protect civilians and respond to crises

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Rapporteur: Dr. H. Peter Langille (hpl@globalcommonsecurity.org )

The objective of the proposed United Nations Emergency Peace Service (UNEPS) is to develop a standing UN capacity that can respond rapidly and reliably to address four of the UN’s long-standing challenges. A UNEPS is designed to help prevent armed conflict and genocide/atrocity crimes; to protect civilians at risk; to ensure prompt start-up of demanding peace operations; and to address human needs in areas where others either cannot or will not.

In addition to the four primary roles identified, a UNEPS has emancipatory potential to help in the following areas: facilitating disarmament; freeing up enormous resources wasted on war; saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war; and as a step toward a more legitimate, effective, universal peace system.

A key lesson of previous experience is that favorable conditions for such a development tend to arise in the aftermath of tragic wars and genocides. Then, when the urgent need was evident, the prior preparation of a viable plan and a core constituency of support was not. This effort endeavors to ensure both are ready and sufficiently compelling to encourage development of a UNEPS before emergencies overwhelm.

A UNEPS will be a new UN formation. Thus, the UNEPS initiative is both a proposal and an advocacy campaign, coupled to an ongoing research project. Each aspect is a work in progress. To succeed, each aspect needs wider support.

Ten Core Principles of the proposed UNEPS:

  1. a permanent standing, integrated UN formation;
  2. highly trained and well-equipped;
  3. ready for immediate deployment upon authorization of the UN Security Council;
  4. multidimensional (civilians, police and military);
  5. multifunctional (capable of diverse assignments with specialized skills for security, humanitarian, health and environmental crises);
  6. composed of 13,500 dedicated personnel (recruited professionals who volunteer for service and are then screened, selected, trained and employed by the UN);
  7. developed to ensure regional and gender equitable representation;
  8. co-located at a designated UN base under an operational headquarters and two mobile mission headquarters;
  9. at sufficient strength to operate in high-threat environments; and,
  10. a service to complement existing UN and regional arrangements, with a first responder to cover the initial six months until Member States can deploy.(1)
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3. All states shall reduce their militaries and not plan war for “national security.”

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Rapporteur: Metta Spencer

This is the key plank in the whole platform. It is also the hardest. We may not succeed with this one, friends, but if we do, the other 24 planks will come more easily, for militarism is the linchpin of the system —the problem that holds the five other threats in place. War and weapons not only kill people directly, but by exacerbating global warming, famine, pandemics, radiation exposure, and (probably next) cyberattacks.

War is hard to eliminate, though — not because anyone actually likes it but because people don’t know how to do without it. A few wars are fought over trivial matters, but most of them occur because a conflict is immensely important and neither side can think of other ways to settle it. So, we must propose some other ways to handle conflicts.

But first let’s consider the meaning of this plank. Notice that it calls upon “states” to reduce their militaries – but what about non-state militaries? ISIS, Al Qaeda, Al Shabab, the Taliban, Boko Haram, ETA and FARC, for examples, are not owned by states, and elsewhere there are still a few warlords and oligarchs with their own armies.

And United Nations Peacekeepers are also military. To get rid of war and weapons, we must probably eliminate (or anyway vastly reduce) all kinds of militaries except peacekeepers, who are supposed to be like a global constabulary. We will need more, not fewer, peacekeepers, as substitutes for the armed forces of national governments and rebels.

The value of an organization depends on its mission, so the question is whether military units are mandated to defend and protect people or to attack and destroy them. Nowadays, most armed forces are for war-fighting, but every city has a police force to protect its citizens. Our ancestor, the caveguy, stood guard at the cave entrance with a spear, lest a saber-tooth tiger arrive unexpectedly. That was for security. But even then, caveguy perhaps also belonged to a warrior gang that raided other settlements for booty. That was not for security. Lives were short in those days, partly because the police force and peacekeepers hadn’t been invented yet to protect citizens.

Basic civility requires us to honor “those brave men and women who risk their lives to defend our country,” though in fact many wars are not defensive in nature. And logically, for every military action that is truly defensive, there must be at least one — the opponent’s — that is offensive. Too often, it is impossible to know which side deserves the glory and which side the shame. Triumphant warriors can now all claim to be heroes, for if ever there was a clear distinction between protective military actions and aggressive attacks, that clarity has long been blurred.

This indistinctness has arisen from the increasing acceptability of two principles. The first is preventive war—military action against an adversary while he is presumably preparing to attack. If self-defence is justifiable, then it is not irrational to consider a pre-emptive strike moral too. But we know where that idea leads.

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2. All states, including those in NATO, shall sign, ratify, and within 10 years comply with the TPNW.

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Rapporteur: Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan

Attainment of this Platform plank will require expanded and sustained civil society activism, as well as significant support from activist governments. An early goal supportive of this Platform plank is multiple ratifications of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons by non-nuclear weapon and non-NATO states. Once the Treaty comes into legal force, non-nuclear NATO states will be under additional pressure to reject the alliance’s nuclear umbrella.

Current Status

Fifty to 100 nuclear weapons, which would be less than one percent of the nuclear weapons in the world’s currently known arsenal, if used in a regional armed conflict, would cause an environmental catastrophe, massive immediate and long term death, and radically change existence, such as through global famine, for the survivors and civilization.(1)

The threat of use of nuclear weapons is assessed by, among many others, a core group of nuclear scientists who publish the annually updated Doomsday Clock, which, as its creators note, “has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons.”(2) As of 2018, the clock stood at two minutes to midnight, the most dangerous measure since 1953.

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Overview: War and Weapons

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Author: Metta Spencer

Even before our primate ancestors began to walk upright, there were wars—times when whole human communities or groups within a community tried to kill each other. Scholars have reached this conclusion partly on the basis of Jane Goodall’s discovery that our closest primate relative, the chimpanzee, engages in war,(1) and partly on the basis of archaeological evidence. One site of skeletons was found in Kenya dating back 9,500 to 10,500 years showing that a group of 27 people had been massacred together.(2) Indeed, there is strong evidence that levels of violence were higher in prehistoric times than today.(3) One example is a cemetery about 14,000 years old where about 45 percent of the skeletons showed signs of violent death.(4) An estimated 15 percent of deaths in primitive societies were caused by warfare.

But life did not consistently become friendlier as our species spread and developed. By one estimate, there were 14,500 wars between 3500 BC and the late twentieth century. These took around 3.5 billion lives.(5)

Can we conclude, then, that war is simply an intrinsic part of “human nature,” so that one cannot reasonably hope to overcome it? No, for there is more variation in the frequency and extent of warfare than can be attributed to genetic differences. In some societies, war is completely absent. Douglas Fry, checking the ethnographic records, identified 74 societies that have clearly been non-warring; some even lacked a word for “war.” The Semai of Malaysia and the Mardu of Australia are examples.(6)

We may gain insights about solutions to warfare by exploring the variations in its distribution, type, and intensity. We begin with the best news: We are probably living in the most peaceful period in human history!

Infographic-Healthcare-Not-Warfare-GDAMS-3.jpg

Infographic, Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS)

Historical Changes in Rates of War

Steven Pinker is the scholar who most convincingly argues that violence has declined, both recently and over the millennia. Pinker’s book Enlightenment Now, contains a graph showing the numbers of battle deaths by year from 1945 to 2015. A huge spike represents World War II, of course, for that was most lethal war in human history, causing at least 55 million deaths. How can we reconcile that ghastly number with any claim that the modern era is a peaceful epoch?

Pinker’s proof is based on distinguishing sharply between absolute numbers and rates. To be sure, 55 million is a huge number, but the Mongol Conquests killed 40 million people back in the thirteenth century, out of a world population only about one-seventh the size of the world’s 1950 population. Pinker says that if World War II had matched the Mongols’ stupendous rate of killing, about 278 million people would have been killed.

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