PNND commends Austria for the Vienna Conference

PNND Past-President Abacca Anjain Maddison (Marshall Islands) and Co-President Paul Dewar (Canada), speaking in Vienna

PNND Co-Presidents and Council Members send letter to Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, commending Austria for the Conference on Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons.

On 18 December 2014, PNND sent a letter to Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz commending Austria for hosting and organising the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons which took place on 8 and 9 December 2014 in the Hofburg Palace Vienna, Austria (see Messages to the Vienna Conference).

The letter - which was signed by a number of PNND Co-Presidents, Council Members and other PNND members - notes the importance of the humanitarian dimension to nuclear weapons issues, and reports on the significant roles parliamentarians and civil society have played to highlight humanitarian consequences and international law.

The letter commends the Austrian government for securing broad participation in the conference (including from the USA and some other nuclear-armed States), and also for providing an informative program, presenting an excellent summary and making an innovative pledge at the conclusion of the conference.

PNND welcomes the Austrian commitment to take the conclusions from the Vienna conference to the 2015 NPT Review Conference so that States Parties can ‘determine the next steps for the achievement and maintenance of a nuclear-weapon-free world.’

PNND also calls for equivalent attention to be given to advancing disarmament steps in the various United Nations forums, including the UN General Assembly, UN Security Council, International Court of Justice and Human Rights Council. Earlier this year PNND, along with other major civil society organisations, launched UNFOLD ZERO, a new platform to highlight such United Nations initiatives and forums for advancing nuclear abolition.

The full letter and list of signatories is attached below.

***************************************************************

Sebastian Kurz
Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs
Vienna, Austria

Dear Mr Kurz

Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (PNND) commends the government of Austria, you personally and your team in the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs for hosting and organising the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons which took place on 8 and 9 December 2014 in the Hofburg Palace Vienna, Austria.

It is a testament to the leadership of Austria, that 158 governments participated - four from nuclear-armed countries. This included the US and UK who had not participated in the previous humanitarian consequences conferences.

The humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons testing, production and use provides a compelling imperative for their abolition. Indeed the International Court of Justice affirmed in 1996 that ‘the destructive power of nuclear weapons cannot be contained in time or space’ and, as a result, affirmed the general illegality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons and a universal obligation to achieve complete nuclear disarmament.

PNND has therefore welcomed the revived international attention to the humanitarian dimension of nuclear weapons. Our members have promoted this in their parliaments, in public events and in regional and international parliamentary forums. We outlined some of this in our statement delivered to the conference.

In particular, we have highlighted this third international conference amongst our global network of parliamentarians and our partners and cooperating organisations. We worked hard, within our very limited financial resources, to bring parliamentarians from around the world to the conference, the preceding civil society forum and to the parliamentary roundtable hosted by the Austrian Parliament.

PNND highly commends you and your team for a very well-run conference and an excellent program. The panelists provided very relevant information on the risks of nuclear weapons being used and the potential impact of such use.  It was wise to place the information panels ahead of the government statements. This enabled constructive discussion on substance, and it ensured that government statements at the end of the conference reflected some of the key points arising from this discussion.

We were honoured that you invited one of our inaugural co-presidents, former Senator Abacca Anjain-Maddison to be one of these panelists. The sad experience of the Marshall Islands from nuclear tests was very influential in the ICJ’s decision in 1996. The Marshall Islands has a follow-up case currently in the ICJ pressing the nuclear-armed States to implement their nuclear disarmament obligations, and this was one of the initiatives discussed in the roundtable in the Austrian parliament.

PNND commends you and your team, in particular, for the excellent summary and the innovative pledge delivered at the conclusion of the conference.

We were pleased that both the summary and pledge recognised the importance of the role of parliamentarians to work in cooperation with States, civil society organisations and the Red Cross/Red Crescent network in order to translate ‘the widespread concerns about the risks and consequences associated with nuclear weapons into concerted steps to achieve a world without these armaments.’ PNND has been very active in building such cooperation, and we used the opportunity of the conference to meet with States, civil society organisations and the national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies to further this.

PNND welcomes the call made by Austria for States to ‘identify and pursue effective measures to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons’ and the pledge by Austria ‘to cooperate with all stakeholders to achieve this goal.’ PNND and the Middle Powers Initiative have organised a number of Framework Forum events where we bring governments, legislators, disarmament experts and civil society representatives together to explore and develop such measures. The inaugural Framework Forum event was held in Vienna supported by the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs. We welcome the opportunity to enhance our cooperation in this endeavour with the government of Austria.

We also welcome the call in the summary for the 2015 NPT Review Conference, to ‘take stock of all relevant developments, including the outcomes of the Conferences on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, and determine the next steps for the achievement and maintenance of a nuclear-weapon-free world,’ and the pledge of Austria to take your conclusions from the Vienna conference to the 2015 NPT Review Conference.

We believe that equivalent attention should also be given to advancing the humanitarian dimension and promoting disarmament steps in United Nations forums such as the UN General Assembly which is universal and non-discriminatory, the UN Security Council which is responsible for international peace and security, the International Court of Justice which can play a vital role in affirming the legal norms for abolition, and the Human Rights Council which can highlight the human right to be free from the threat of nuclear weapons.

Earlier this year PNND, along with other major civil society organisations, launched UNFOLD ZERO, a new platform to highlight United Nations initiatives and forums for advancing nuclear abolition.

UNFOLD ZERO cooperated with parliamentarians, governments, the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs and civil society organisations for a very successful inaugural International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. We look forward to cooperating further with Austria and other States in advancing the humanitarian dimension through these forums.

Once again we commend you on a superb conference and on your leadership in the international endeavours to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world.

 

Yours sincerely,

Mani Shankar Aiyar MP, India
Chair, Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan Group
PNND Co-President

Saber Chowdhury MP, Bangladesh
President, Inter Parliamentary Union
PNND Co-President

Tarja Cronberg, Finland
Former Minister of Labour
PNND Co-President

Paul Dewar MP, Canada
Vice-Chair Foreign Affairs and International Development
PNND Co-President

Bill Kidd MSP, Scotland
Co-Chair, Cross-Party Group in the Scottish Parliament on Nuclear Disarmament
PNND Co-President

Baroness Sue Miller, UK House of Lords
Member, UK Delegation to the IPU
PNND Co-President

Christine Muttonen MP, Austria
Vice-Chair of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly
PNND Co-President

Senator Richard Tuheiava, France
Former Member of the Senate Defence Committee
PNND Co-President

Abacca Anjain-Maddison, Marshall Islands
Former senator for Rongelap
PNND Past-President

Dr Raphael Chegeni, Tanzania
Chair, Great Lakes Parliamentary Forum for Peace
PNND Past-President

Hon David Coltart, Zimbabwe
Former Minister of Education
PNND Past-President

Marian Hobbs, New Zealand
Former Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control
PNND Past-President

Uta Zapf, Germany
Former Chair of the Bundestag Subcommittee on Disarmament and Arms Control
PNND Past-President

Mayeen Uddin Khan Badal M.P, Bangladesh
Chair, PNND Bangladesh Section

Jonathan Granoff, USA
PNND Council Member
President, Global Security Institute

Dr. Ute Finckh-Krämer MdB, Germany
Member, Bundestag Subcommittee on Disarmament and Arms Control

Birgitta Jonsdottir MP, Iceland
Vice-Chair, Constitutional and Supervisory Committee
PNND Council Member

Tõnis Kõiv MP, Estonia
Member, European Union Affairs Committee
PNND Council Member

Senator David Norris, Ireland
PNND Council Member

Hon Matthew Robson, New Zealand
Former Minister for Disarmament

Viktor Rogalev MP, Kazakhstan
Deputy Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense and Security
PNND Council Member

Senator Laura Rojas Hernández, Mexico
Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Organisations

Rt Hon Dame Joan Ruddock MP, United Kingdom
Former Minister of State - Department of Energy and Climate Change

M. Kula Segaran MP, Malaysia
Vice-Chair of the Democratic Action Party

Maryan Street, New Zealand
Former Minister for Housing
PNND Council Member

Olle Thorell MP, Sweden
Member, Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence

Julie Ward MEP, United Kingdom
Member, European Parliament Committee on Gender Equality and Women's Rights