Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

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Posts Tagged ‘United Nations’

Germany’s UN Security Council Strategy: Schöndorf & Kaim Give Their Two Cents

Posted by K.E. White on June 15, 2011

Stiftung Wissenchaft und Politik—or the German Institute for International Security Affairs—offers an excellent article discussing Germany’s role on the United Nations Security Council.  In it, Elisabeth Schöndorf and Markus Kaim ask two critical questions that’s worth anyone reflecting on:  what strategy should a country adopt when it is a UN Security Council Member, and why does it matter?

‘Big’ Picture Items:

Diplomatic Strategy and the U.N. Security Council:  Elisabeth Schöndorf and Markus Kaim premise their article (“Peace, Security, and Crisis Management”) on the need for Germany “to determine its priority objectives and to sharpen their strategic focus”—why do they really have to?  The authors pick out geographic areas—Africa and Afghanistan—and strengthening U.N.-NATO ties (but isn’t the real issue with NATO itself?).  But—really—would it not be better for Germany to focus on thematic issues, backed up by practical national and international steps forward?

For example, Afghanistan will wind down (or up) according to America’s watch, not Germany’s.  But, in keeping with Schöndorf & Kaim’s prediction of new crises and (possible) newly failed states, Germany may do well in helping the international community plan contingencies for the failures of States.  Such steps could be practical:  coordinating international responses for refugees; stepping up the ground-work for quick aid; and having sober discussions on w hat countries can and cannot offer in these situations.  This quiet diplomacy could lead to templates for the international community to respond not only to today’s crises, but tomorrow.

Finally, such a thematic approach looks ahead to new problems developing, maximizing Germany’s influence when it comes to the great strategic and military moves ‘big’ powers may make.

Also, Schöndorf & Kaim miss a vital issue plaguing international security:  battling the proliferation of WMD while assisting the world’s emerging economies energy needs.

The Importance of today’s U.N. Security Council

“The current council is probably the ‘strongest’ that has ever convened:  for the first time, all of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) and the IBSA countries (India, Brazil and South Africa) and thus important regional powers are members, as are major troop contributors to UN missions, major donor states, and almost all of the members of the G8.  In addition, nine of the fifteen members of the Security Council for 2011/2012 are also members of the G20.”

This is a critical observation (even if BRIC should really be BIIC), and may be a golden moment for the United Nations Security Council to shows its ability to follow through on commitments.  Whether this is the Special Tribunal for Lebanon or Libya, it’s critical that emerging powers show that multilateral engagement—whatever its flaws—can foster peace, security, and development for all nations.

But this seems to foster Germany taking a thematic approach first; instead of replaying the same great power divides of past U.S.-led interventions in the Middle East.

The Lingering Question:  Isn’t Germany Impact Really on Changing Minds on Individual Votes, and Won’t German Diplomatic Relations Have More Effect?

One critical omission for the piece: isn’t the true measure of Germany’s Council influence whether it changes other Member’s votes?  And this will probably have more to do with bilateral relations than ‘grand strategy’ calculations.  Yet, any country must identify their vital interests, lest it goes to the mat over every Council vote.  But again, it seems a thematic approach would help more than country specific:  engaging with countries on general topics give more room to identify mutual interests than simply outlining region or country-specific goals.  And isn’t this especially the case when in one of these areas—Afghanistan—Germany will clearly be playing second fiddle to America’s strategic adjustments?

As a middle power, Germany has the luxury to not be bogged down in the ‘great power’ debates that so often cripple the Council.  Instead, it can map a truly long-term strategy that allows it to be the ‘indispensible facilitator’ when future disputes arise.

And that’s one luxury Germany should not squander.

Posted in Diplomacy, Germany, United Nations | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Obama Administration Pushes UN Nonproliferation Resolution

Posted by K.E. White on September 15, 2009

Setting the stage for next May’s Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Conference, the Obama administration has circulated a UN resolution on nonproliferation. The draft resolution reaffirms the core tenants of the NPT, itself a marked departure from the last administration. The proposal thus reflects the administration’s desire to approach nuclear proliferation–especially in regard to North Korea and Iran–from a multinational perspective and recommit all nuclear-weapons states states to nuclear disarmament.

Symbolic and practical purposes lay within the proposals jargon. Symbolically it shows the United States acknowledging the interests of non-nuclear states and seeking their input in dealing with the thorny issue of nuclear proliferation. Practically the proposal ups the ante of the 2010 treaty conference and reflects the Obama administration’s push to enshrine a ‘norm’ against proliferation that applies to nuclear and non-nuclear states alike. This stands in contrast to the Bush administration that signaled its privilege for counter-proliferation–keeping weapons from ‘bad’ regimes–over the general goal of eliminating these weapons all-together, nonproliferation.

Strategic considerations related related to Iran’s nuclear activities rest behind the US proposal. Two sections in particular stand out (and can be read below). First, the proposal calls on NPT nuclear weapon states–America, Russia, Britain, France and China–to “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to nuclear arms reduction and disarmament.” The Obama administration seems intent on ‘walking the walk’ when it comes to eventual disarmament, a key clause of the NPT. No doubt it hopes that such action would reinvigorate American credibility on nonproliferation, which then could be parlayed into isolating Iran.

The proposal also seeks to make the right of NPT members to develop civilian nuclear programs contingent on meeting their other NPT obligations–another clear message to Iran. By seeking to limit the scope of the NPT’s nuclear benefit clause, the United States seeks to stop countries from hiding illicit nuclear weapons production (read: Iran and North Korea) behind this NPT nuclear benefits clause.

Politico offers excellent coverage that includes the proposal’s text and expert commentary. From Politico:

Washington nonproliferation experts describe the draft U.S. resolution as important, including in signaling the Obama administration’s return to some international non-proliferation commitments that the Bush administration had walked back from. In particular, they note the proposal’s endorsing that world nuclear powers pledge to not attack non-nuclear states with nuclear weapons, as well as a passage that would make a nation’s “right” to pursue peaceful nuclear energy contingent upon being in compliance with other obligations spelled out in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

“What Obama is doing here, is, as he said in Prague, recommitting the United States to action on disarmament,” the Arms Control Association’s executive director Daryl Kimball said Monday. “He is reiterating U.S. and P-5 support for some things that the Bush administration walked back from.” Among them: the comprehensive test ban treaty (CTBT), which bans the testing of nuclear weapons (and which the U.S. has signed but the Senate not ratified), and what are called “negative security assurances” – guarantees by nuclear weapons states not to attack non-nuclear weapons states with nukes, Kimball said.

“This resolution is a solid piece of work, the best one could expect from the UN resolution process,” said Joseph Cirincione, president of the Plougshares Fund, which advocates nonproliferation goals. “It’s significant in several aspects,” he added, naming in particular the draft’s reaffirming a pledge that nuclear states would not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states – a U.S. position up until the Bush administration, he said. “This could be very important later on,” Cirincione said, in making the case that the sole purpose of having nuclear weapons is to deter other states from using them.

Posted in United Nations | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Two Nonproliferation Press Notes: Syria Gets IAEA-OK for Nuclear Plant; S. Korea and Brazil Kick Off Nonproliferation Events

Posted by K.E. White on November 28, 2008

Interesting update from Syria, courtesy of the LATimes:

The International Atomic Energy Agency approved a contested Syrian bid for assistance in planning a nuclear power plant Wednesday after being assured that the effort would be closely monitored.     

The United States, Canada and Australia had led Western efforts to freeze the project while allegations of covert activity that could lead to nuclear weapons were investigated. But the U.S. and its allies finally joined a consensus in favor of the aid since they could not have won a vote, diplomats in the closed meeting said.

Syria’s request for the power plant aid, something rubber-stamped for many nations, degenerated into a political tug of war after an agency report suggested Damascus might have tried to build a nuclear reactor in secret…
And I want my tickets to Jeju Island and São Paulo, as any seriously aspiring non-proliferation should–at least this week.
From Brazzil Maganize’s coverage of two United Nations Conferences aiming to focus world-wide attention on WMD proliferation:

São Paulo, BrazilIn the Brazilian city of São Paulo, UN’s Office for Disarmament Affairs has organized a week-long workshop on implementing Security Council resolution 1540. That resolution, adopted by the Council in 2004, focuses on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The workshop aims to enhance national capacities for the management of export control processes at a practical level as well as to improve information and experience-sharing between national expert control and enforcement authorities.

Meanwhile the seventh annual Joint Conference on Disarmament and Non-proliferation issues, organized by the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs and South Korea, is taking place on Jeju Island.

This year’s conference will focus on such concerns as revitalizing the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) process, the nuclear renaissance, a multilateral assurance mechanism for nuclear fuel supply, and non-proliferation challenges in North-East Asia.

Jeju IslandSome 40 representatives of governments, international organizations, academic and research institutions, as well as civil society are expected to participate.

The annual event, which has been hosted by South Korea since 2002, is a forum for dialogue and the exchange of views on pressing security and disarmament-related issues facing the international community, addressing particular disarmament and non-proliferation concerns in the Asia-Pacific region.

Acknowledging that obstacles to nuclear disarmament are daunting, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said last month that it is more imperative than ever to make it a reality given the twin economic and financial crises the world is currently facing.


Posted in IAEA, Nonproliferation, Nuclear, proliferation, Syria, United Nations | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Bolton on the UN & International Law: Not So Needed, After all

Posted by K.E. White on February 19, 2008

Less Shocking: Former UN Ambassador John Bolton favors US unilateralism/bilateralism over international organizations.

More Shocking: His swipe at international law.

From Yale Daily News’ report on Bolton’s Thursday Yale Law School visit:

“There’s only one country that’s going to stop nuclear proliferation and the threats presented by Iran and North Korea, and that’s the United States,” he concluded. “And that’s the cold, hard truth about international organizations.”

Bolton served as U.N. ambassador under a recess appointment beginning in August 2005. His nomination to the post in 2006 was never approved by the Senate.

Bolton described what he sees as the current challenges in American non-proliferation policy and discussed the United States’ best options in addressing nuclear threats — hardly bothering to veil his disdain for international law and institutions.

“When I was here, I didn’t take any courses at all on international law,” he said, “and frankly I don’t think I missed a thing.”

The paradigm for stemming proliferation, Bolton said, is Libya’s voluntary disarmament in 2003 under American and British pressure — without the help of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency.

Posted in Foreign Policy, John Bolton, proliferation, United Nations | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Monday Morning Tea: EU’s Presidential Race, China-India Ladakh Tensions, Pakistan’s New Army Chief, and the Value of the UN

Posted by K.E. White on January 28, 2008

While relations between China and India seem warm, concerns of a Chinese land grab in Ladakh are making headlines

Interested in the US presidential race? Check out Chinese news coverage on the turbulent nomination races. (Added bonus: the Chinese Polar Robot and China’s new policy towards soldiers involved in nuclear tests

With Pakistan’s upcoming elections coming right on the heels of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, many wonder what role the military will play. Latest development: Pakistan’s army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani “has recently directed army personnel to keep away from politics and said that army’s role in the coming elections would be restricted to maintaining the law and order.” 

David Pollock and Michael Jacobson on how the UN plays a vital role in America’s counter-terrorism efforts:

 

The promising early signs from Kuwait illustrate the important counterterrorism role the UN can play. Like many other countries in the region, Kuwait occasionally needs a UN imprimatur to take potentially troublesome steps requested by Washington, even when they serve common interests. This is true not only in the counterterrorism arena, but also with regard to Iran: although the emir has just traveled to Tehran and proclaimed it a “friend,” his government carefully adheres to UN sanctions against Iran‘s nuclear program. 

Unfortunately, the UN’s counterterrorism role has been in sharp decline, with designations steadily dropping in recent years. In fact, 2007 saw only eight designations related to al-Qaeda and the Taliban — the lowest annual total since 2000. Given the limits of what the United States can accomplish on its own against al-Qaeda in Kuwait and elsewhere in the region, pushing to reinvigorate the UN’s role should be a priority.

Tony Blair might just become President after all—of the European Union. The European alliance will be electing its first time President in twelve months.

Posted in European Union, Kayani, Pakistan | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Measure to Take Nukes Off High Alert Passes UN Committee 124-3

Posted by K.E. White on November 2, 2007

A symbolic measure to take nuclear weapons off high alert overwhelming passed a United Nations committee on disarmament. The measure must now be voted by the UN General Assembly. 

The United States, France and Great Britain were the only nations that voted against the resolution—but 34 nations opted to abstain. 

While adopting the resolution would mitigate concerns over accidental nuclear launches, these changes could diminish the deterrence value of a nation’s nuclear weapons. 

From the Associated Press:

The resolution, co-sponsored by Chile, New Zealand, Nigeria, Sweden and Switzerland, now goes to the 192-nation General Assembly for a final vote. Assembly resolutions are not legally binding but reflect opinions of world governments.

The resolution calls for taking steps “to decrease the operational readiness of nuclear weapons systems, with a view to ensuring that all nuclear weapons are removed from high alert status.”

If nations with nuclear weapons choose to follow the recommendations, launching nuclear weapons would go from taking minutes to days. [Source: New Zealand’s Disarmament and Arms Control Minister Phil Goff as cited in The Age]

The Associated Press brings attention to Britain’s rationale in voting against the measure:

John Duncan, Britain’s ambassador for multilateral arms control and disarmament, said “we voted against it because we don’t think that de-alerting is the primary issue that we need to address if we are to head to a nuclear-free world.”

“We think the emphasis should be on other things, the numbers of nuclear weapons, not the operational readiness, and also the concerns of proliferation,” he said.

Posted in deterrence, John Duncan, Nuclear, United Nations | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »