Principles and Process

Arms Control Today
by Henrik Salander
April 2010


For anyone who attended the 2005 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, where the parties failed to agree on anything at all, the recent debacle at the Copenhagen climate change conference seemed very familiar. In both cases, nation-based egocentrism made it impossible even to try to solve problems that are truly and fundamentally global, such as the health of the biosphere and weapons threatening to destroy the planet.

It is often said that another NPT review failure this year will signify the beginning of the end of the treaty. Such prophecies are risky, but also trivial. It has been clear for years that the NPT is under stress, so alarmism is unnecessary. States-parties are disappointed with the treaty for diverging reasons. What is needed for the review conference in May is pragmatic expectations and constructive multilateralism. The cynical negotiating tactics by a few states-parties in 2005 must not be repeated.

The success of the review conference will depend not only on the substance of the agreements reached there, but also on the way in which those agreements are reached.



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