French parliamentarians send letter to UN supporting nuclear disarmament process

On 18 October, five leading French parliamentarians sent a letter to key ambassadors to the United Nations in New Yotk supporting the UN Open Ended Working Group on Taking Forward Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations (OEWG).

Semator Richard Tueiava speaking in the French Senate Semator Richard Tueiava speaking in the French Senate
The five French parliamentarians, all members of PNND, are Senator Richard Tuheiava (Member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee), Representative Danielle Auroi (Présidente of the European Affairs Committee), Malika 
Benarab-Attou (European MP, culture committe), Senator Michel Billout (Member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee) and Denis Baupin (Vice-président of the National Assembly).

The letter explains why the French members ask the UN General Assembly to give a new mandate to the OEWG. The parliamentarians are encouraged and inspired by the OEWG deliberations, even if the NWS were not present. The parliamentarians say that they look forward to continuing the engagement in a renewed OEWG to ensure the commencement and conclusion of multilateral negotiations to achieve a nuclear weapons free world.

The OEWG was established in 2013 as a new forum for nuclear disarmament deliberations, following frustration by many countries that the Conference on Disarmament, the world's primary negotiating forum for disarmament, had been unable to undertake any substantive work since 1996.

Meeting over 15 full days in May, June and August 2013, the OEWG was able to 'open the door' to multilateral negotiations by bridging long-standing differences, floating new ideas and finding common ground between non-nuclear States, allies of nuclear weapon States and those nuclear-armed States that participated.

The letter from the French parliamentarians coincided with the presentation of the OEWG report to the United Nations General Assembly by Ambassador Manuel Dengo, Chair of the OEWG. Ambassador Dengo also presented a draft UN resolution on the OEWG to be put to the vote later this month.

The draft resolution highlights the value that the OEWG has made to deliberations on multilateral nuclear disarmament, calls on the Conference on Disarmament and other UN forums to learm from the interactive and bridge-building format of the OEWG and take up some of the proposals within the report, and calls on governments to evelaute progress on nuclear disarmament negotiations again at the 2014 UN General Assembly, and to explore options for further advancing nuclear disarmament negotiations including possinbly through additional work by the OEWG.

The OEWG was probably influential in moving the Conference on Disarmament to establish an Informal Working Group to adopt a work program for the CD. The degree to which this working group is successful will impact on the decision in 2014 on whether or not to renew the work of the OEWG.

The French Letter sent ot the UN on 18 October, is just one of many ways in which parliamentarians have been supporting the OEWG. Others include: