Abstract: The treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons is a contemporary attempt at the United Nations General Assembly. Prohibition on such nuclear weapons is a fact and also reflects that there are so many boundaries that will be limited. Not only to the weapons but to technology, science, and nuclear physics, nuclear defense industry, and so on. The past shows us how this treaty was mandated and why it was necessary in the first place, the present is how states are reacting to this treaty and the future is what effects will this treaty have in world politics, democratic states politics, and how much longer it will have its effectiveness.
Keywords: Nuclear weapons, treaty, prospects of nuclear weapons.
The treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons is the first legally binding international agreement that widely prohibits nuclear weapons and any develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile any kind of nuclear weapons or devices. It was passed on the notion of the total elimination of nuclear weapons in the world. As much as it is appreciated that nuclear weapons should be banned and eliminated it also raises some debatable issues. Not only it has effects on technological science it also has effects on the other sectors of ethical, legal, peace, and armed conflicts understanding.
To our best learning, science and technology are supposed to progress our situation. But sometimes it has some adverse situation for peace and security. Nuclear weapons have devastating results in the history of mankind. The purposeful usage of nuclear weapons is a threat to the world. But there are some boundaries. The ban on nuclear weapons and technologies are confiding us about the present condition of our world. It shows the dire need of prohibiting any kind of nuclear test. But there are some other important aspects. The most affected aspect is the sociological aspect. There are so many theories and predictions that nuclear weapons work as a deterrent to war. The real question is how effective this treaty is and how the would state react to this treaty. This paper has tried to show a thorough reflection of this treaty’s past, present, and future effects in world politics.
History and Concept of the treaty: The nuclear ban treaty is passed on July 7, 2017. There were several UN-mandated conferences on nuclear disarmament and there was a lack of progress in 2012. (Culpin, 2018) The UN general assembly adopted a resolution (resolution 67/56) establishing an open-ended working group (OEWG) to develop proposals in order to focus on multilateral nuclear disarmament resolutions. In the end, in 2015 it failed to agree on a final document. So the general assembly adopted a new OEWG for 2016. Under this resolution, the main task of the group was to address the legal measures and provisions that will be required to attain and maintain, which will ensure a world without nuclear weapons and examining other measures that could contribute to taking forward this multilateral treaty on nuclear disarmament. This approach showed a new opportunity to move forward on disarmament issues.
In the earlier days, the open ended working group found it really difficult to meet an agreement. The participatory states labeled it as ‘divisive’ and claimed that it lacked the vital components that would guarantee both meaningful collaboration and productive outcomes. (Culpin, 2018) After a lot in 2016, they discussed on legally binding agreement to prohibit nuclear weapons. Although the participating states were divided among themselves on how should be the best approach and faced problems to find a common ground they managed to stay put on this idea of a prohibition treaty. By August 2016, the final report came out notifying that in 2017 there would be a conference open to all states with the participation and contribution of international organizations and civil society to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons towards their total elimination. (A/RES/71/63, 2016)
In 2017, it was passed. In order to come into effect, at least 50 states need to sign and ratify this treaty. Those states who ratify and sign this treaty shall be prohibited from developing, testing, producing, stockpiling, stationing, transfer, use, or the threat of use of nuclear weapons. They will encourage the prohibitive activities as well. (TREATY ON THE PROHIBITION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS, 2017) For nuclear-armed states joining the treaty, it provides for a time-bound framework for negotiations leading to the verified and irreversible elimination of its nuclear weapons program. This is the way to negotiate legally to prohibit nuclear weapons leading towards their total elimination. (para. 8)
The nuclear weapon ban treaty will form an unambiguous political commitment to achieve and maintain a nuclear-weapon-free world. This is the pivotal concept of this treaty. There was a nuclear weapons convention earlier. This contained a generic idea of banning nuclear weapons like other chemicals, biological weapons. Unlike this convention, this treaty has the technical and legal measures required to reach the point of elimination. There are several provisions of this treaty. Such provisions will instead be the subject of subsequent negotiations, allowing the initial agreement to be concluded relatively quickly and, if necessary, without the involvement of nuclear-armed nations. It is to be believed that it will help to stigmatize nuclear weapons and serve as a catalyst for elimination. Around two-thirds of the states have pledged on working together on this treaty for developing the legal gap between global governance. The earlier nuclear treaty, the Non-proliferation treaty (NPT) of 1968 contained only partial prohibitions and nuclear-weapon-free zone with only certain geographical regions. On the other hand, this treaty is more comprehensive, more universal, and more focused.
The basic concept of the treaty is stated earlier. The preamble of the treaty shares a view that the state parties shall be determined to contribute to the realization of the purposes and principles of the United Nations and deeply concerned about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from any use of nuclear weapons, and recognizing the consequent need to completely eliminate such weapons, which remains the only way to guarantee that nuclear weapons are never used again under any circumstances. (The most important articles 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 are discussed here because discussing all the articles is beyond the limitation of this article.)
Legal Framework of the treaty: There is a need to see how much this treaty has a legal basis in world politics. Before jumping to any conclusion and to perceive a neutral point of view there is a need to see whether this treaty has a strong ground for future implications. The international court of justice states that any state is entitled to organize its army, military structure, and forces. (ICJ, 1986) That means any state can have a condition of the discourse of its own arms control and disarmament. Another perspective is that since it was kind of impossible to eliminate the resource of war in international politics, in the ‘Paris law’ the right to self-defense is recognized along with other prohibitions of use of force. According to Kant, although violence is prohibited in order to attain liberty or a right when any excess on the use of a right would constitute itself a breach of another right and be illegal, violence against the first one would be legal under that. This put a different perspective. Violence for self-defense. This put a debate about weaponry.
If we consider the Paris law, there is a declaration: (ICJ reports, 1959)
(Sic) In view of the present state of international law viewed as a whole, as examined… by the Court, and of the elements of fact at its disposal, the Court is led to observe that it cannot reach a definitive conclusion as to the legality or illegality of the use of nuclear weapons by a State in an extreme circumstance of self-defense, in which its very survival would be at stake. (Nuclear Weapons Opinion, 1996)
In other words, the law on the use of force is interpreted by the Court as to allow a nuclear weapon state to counter an attack by nuclear weaponry in special circumstances, though in general, their use would be contrary to international humanitarian law or human rights law. (Akdogan, 2017) From a legal or institutional point of view, whereby any issue is conceived as legal, nuclear energy is a legal concept. It is a concept to which internationality as ascribed via different legal techniques. For example, an international organization established with a treaty, dependent on new treaties or arrangements, and ensured by constant diplomacy. An example is the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
In brief, the treaty prohibits the usage or any other things related to nuclear weapons and developments. In a nutshell, it is tough to find a core legal framework for this treaty. If this treaty is to work, then not only the state parties but any other non-state actors, non-participant states should come forward to fill the crucial needs and thus it shall be allowed future space to work on.
Present effectiveness of this treaty: As stated earlier, the legal basis of this treaty is a diminutive feeble. To get over that every state and actors should work together. At present, According to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons leading proponents of a nuclear weapon ban treaty which includes Ireland, Austria, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa, and Thailand. All 54 nations of Africa and all thirty-three nations of Latin America and the Caribbean had subscribed to common regional positions supporting a ban treaty. The 10 nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which concluded the Southeast Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone treaty, participated in the negotiations, but Singapore abstained from the vote. Many Pacific island nations are also supportive of this treaty. No nuclear-armed nation has expressed support for a ban treaty, a number of them, including the United States and Russia, have expressed explicit opposition. North Korea was the only nuclear state to vote for initiating ban negotiations. (Voting on UN resolution for the nuclear ban treaty, 2016) There are several states who are resistant to this treaty. They think that US nuclear weapons enhance their security. Such as the non-nuclear armed members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organizations (NATO), along with Japan and Australia. The United Kingdom and France issued a joint statement indicating that they do not intend to sign or ratify this treaty. In brief, they think that nuclear weapons have been working as a deterrence which has been keeping peace in Europe and North Asia for many years. This treaty is incompatible with that international security.
In contrast to South Asia, India and Pakistan both abstained from voting during the conference. Only with time, it can be proved whether this decision was right or wrong. In broader Asia, China also abstained from signing or ratifying this treaty. Already stated that Japan does not want to be a part of this treaty. The main powers of Asia and South Asia abstained or did not sign this treaty considering the realities of international world politics. Now the only question is whether abstaining from signing or ratifying will have any ongoing effectiveness.
The future effectiveness of this treaty: As required by the agreement, 50 states are needed for this treaty to be effective. There are more than 50 signatories of this treaty. Confiding the reality, the dominating power of the world politics did not ratify this treaty. Power states like the United States of America, Russia, Australia, China, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany, and so on. The permanent five states of the United Security Council could not come to an agreement for ratifying this treaty. Then its effectiveness is rather questionable. The question remains as to whether this treaty will hold for long.
Agreements underpinning the implementation process might be affected by three types of weaknesses. (Arnault, 2006) These are- capabilities, political constraints, and some vital concerns. The capabilities of a treaty must not be overestimated. There are many reasons why a treaty can fail. This is one of them. This treaty of banning nuclear weapons or technology is not capable enough to overpower every state parties’ concern. There are many political constraints for this treaty to implement. If the state parties think that this treaty will not help them to improve their political situation then in no way they would agree on implementing this treaty. That is why the UK and France stated that they are not in the position of signing or ratifying this treaty. This nuclear weapon is working as their war deterrence and in no political way, this treaty is sufficient enough for them for implementation. The last and most serious perilous is that state parties have their own concerns. These concerns can be related to the physical security of the parties, the socio-economic conditions, the political liabilities of the parties, or substantive aspirations that are deemed of vital interests of the parties whether these imply access to government positions (like power-sharing) or might be the reason of political regime like democratization – demilitarization. These concerns are as much real as the favored outcome of the nuclear ban treaty.
Another reason for questioning the effectiveness of this treaty’s in the future is because of the political regime of democracy. As of the democratic theories, it has become customary to distinguish between dyadic and monadic variants. The dyadic approach investigates pairs of states as so-called dyads based on the theoretical premise that democracies rarely engage in war against each other. The monadic perspective reflects that democracies are generally less war-prone than other types of regimes. It thus compares the overall conflict involvement of democracies and non-democracies. This approach remains firmly relevant in the liberal paradigm of international relations and security. (Mello, 2016) According to Kant’s perpetual peace process (1975) among the mechanisms, one was the presence of a republican constitution which for Kant entails the requirements of public approval before the government can decide on the use of military force. This entails that the government of a state party can decide when to use the military force with what weapons.
This is not completely irrelevant to the effectiveness of the nuclear ban treaty. For long as now, this is considered that democratic states are always less prone to war, and as Kant’s peace process they can use whatever force they might need. By the definition and core concept of this treaty is that no signatory or ratified state of this treaty might use any nuclear weapons, the development, testing, production, stockpiling, stationing, transfer, and the threat of use of nuclear weapons. This limits the state’s power to use its own force and develop its own security measures. The democratic states might also consider these nuclear weapons as their security build up terms (as Japan claimed) or considered as the deterrence of war-prone situation among the countries (as the UK and France claimed).
For a long time now, nuclear weapons have been developed and used as a force to coerce the adversary parties for security concerns. Although there are some devastating environments of world politics because of nuclear existence but the major power states would not want to lose powerful conduct of military coercion against all the adversaries. If the powerful states do not believe in this treaty to work or oppose this treaty then the effectiveness will at one point certainly be predestined. One state after one would start claiming that this treaty is not universal and if one country remains allowed to use or even develop any nuclear weapons it can be a threat to every signatory or ratified state.
After this various discussion, it is quite perceptual that as long as this treaty is not universal or gains it internationality it might lose its effectiveness in the future.
Contemporary situation after this treaty’s effectiveness: The ‘Cold Start doctrine’ between India and Pakistan can reflect the latest effectiveness of the treaty. As stated earlier, neither India nor Pakistan has ratified or signed this treaty. The cold start doctrine suggests the wish to avoid a full scale ‘hot’ war. It means that Indian forces making swift and hard inroads into Pakistan which will not give Pakistan the scope to launch a full-scale retaliation. These surprise attacks are the key elements of the cold doctrine. The need for the cold start doctrine emerged out of the fact that Pakistan being a nuclear country, the war will ultimately mutually destructive. Pakistan has used its nuclear power status to counter India’s warnings of armed conflicts. It is quite clear that Pakistan will not step away from using nuclear weapons against India. (Cold Start: India’s answer to Pakistan’s nuclear bullying, 2019)
This is the situation of 2019 in Asia. For any reason there is a nuclear strike between India and Pakistan, there is no denying that a nuclear war would break out in the world. As states like India, Pakistan, the USA, Russia, and China are part of the treaty of banning nuclear weapons.
This is why it is stated earlier that as long as this treaty is not universal for every country, there is a high probability that this treaty’s effectiveness would not stand a chance in this international world politics.
To conclude it would be a turn to the entire discussion. Treaties as such have a predictable measure in sense of legal, physical, political, and security spheres. In its jurisprudence, it is really difficult to hold onto the position of total elimination of nuclear usage when there is no clause that every state has to ratify this. The Treaty aims to be universal, universally agreed, universally adopted, and universally implemented. However, the main impediment thereto is it’s being a treaty itself, a legal compromise diplomatically arranged, technically drafted, conventionally dealt. Although the number of signatories and ratifying states are higher than the non-ratifying states it still poses a threat in our present dominating world politics. However, it is always expected that treaties as such will last longer and finally can conclude with its original determination in the future.
Akdogan, E. (2017, November). Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons: The Ban and Limits Thereof. China-USA Business Review, 16(11), 556-564. doi:10.17265/1537-1514/2017.11.005
Arnault, J. (2006). GOOD AGREEMENT? BAD AGREEMENT? AN IMPLEMENTATION PERSPECTIVE. Princeton University, Center of International Studies. Princeton University. Retrieved 04 29, 2019, from https://peacemaker.un.org/sites/peacemaker.un.org/files/Good%20AgreementBad%20Agreement_Arnault.pdf
Cold Start: India’s answer to Pakistan’s nuclear bullying. (2019, 03 04). Retrieved 04 29, 2019, from The Economic Times: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/cold-start-indias-answer-to-pakistans-nuclear-bullying/articleshow/68254953.cms
Culpin, C. M. (2018). A Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. London: House of Commons Library. Retrieved 04 28, 2019, from file:///C:/Users/User/Downloads/CBP-7986.pdf
Mello, P. A. (2016). Democratic Peace Theory. In P. I. Joseph, The SAGE Encyclopedia of War: Social Science Perspectives. SAGE. Retrieved 04 29, 2019, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/305207296_Democratic_Peace_Theory
reports, I. (1959). “Case concerning the Aerial Incident of Jzdy 27th, 1955 (Israel v. Bulgaria) , Preliminary Objections,. International Court of Justice. Retrieved 04 28, 2019, from https://www.icj-cij.org/files/case-related/35/035-19590526-JUD-01-00-EN.pdf
(2016). Resolution adopted by the General Assembly: Nuclear disarmament. United Nations. UN General Assembly. Retrieved 04 28, 2019, from https://gafc-vote.un.org/UNODA/vote.nsf/d523afe92781d4d605256705006e0a5d/5114787d9b07803e85258096006fe445/$FILE/A%20RES%2071%2063.pdf
(2017). Treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons: Signature and ratification. New York: UNGA. Retrieved 04 28, 2019, from https://www.un.org/disarmament/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/tpnw-info-kit-v2.pdf
(2017). TREATY ON THE PROHIBITION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS. Agreement, United Nations, UN General Assembly. Retrieved 04 28, 2019, from http://www.icanw.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/TPNW-English1.pdf
Voting on UN resolution for nuclear ban treaty. (2016, 12 23). Retrieved 04 29, 2019, from ICAN: http://www.icanw.org/campaign-news/voting-on-un-resolution-for-nuclear-ban-treaty/