Thursday, May 7, 2009

Day Four at the NPT - Getting down to the nitty gritty

Day Four and temperature is rising. In Conference Room E, the room at the end of the building given to the NGOs for our many meetings, it is positively stifling. We can either open the doors and have some small amount of air to breathe, or we can close the doors and actually hear each other. And under these conditions we are trying to rid the world of nuclear weapons. There are 77 NGOs who are accredited for this PrepCom, and there are many more individual members of civil society. This morning our very own Dimity Hawkins of ICAN Australia and John Loretz of the IPPNW Central Office co-chaired a session on the implementation of the Nuclear Weapons Convention which called on both the experience of Jayanatha Dhanapala, President of Pugwash, and Randy Rydell, of the UN Department of Disarmament Affairs. We also heard the perspective from parliamentarians working to promote disarmament.

In Conference Room 1, the lunchtime session brought us the words of Michael Douglas, the actor, who told us this is "Not a moment for hesitation, cynicism or doubt, it is a time to be bold." He joined with voices from Disarmament Affairs, past and present, asking us to seize on the moment of extraordinary hope presented by statements by Ban Ki Moon as well as both Russian and US Presidents. 

The official "debate" has now shifted to Cluster 1 discussions. Or rather, Cluster 1 read statements. There were exciting moments at the end of yesterday however, with Syria and Canada disagreeing about the right to nuclear energy. A series of rights-of-reply culminated with Canada emphasising that rights come with obligations.

Over the last 2 days there have been some meetings with official delegations. The group from SLMK, the Swedish affiliate of IPPNW, met last night with the Swedish delegation, and today I had the opportunity to join with the president and the executive director of Physicians for Global Survival, the Canadian affiliate of IPPNW, as well as three other dynamic and wonderful Canadians, in meeting with the Canadian delegation. This was an excellent meeting and reaffirmed the need for ongoing dialogue between members of civil society and the diplomats and civil servants who work on these issues on behalf of our governments. Much of what takes place in these meetings is off the record, as is the content of our morning briefings from members of government, such as this morning's briefing with the UK Ambassador. It means I can't tell you all that was said and not said, but I think it represents the real work of NGOs at these gatherings - the nitty gritty.

Tonight New York will truly take off with a party to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Reaching Critical Will, and the 94th birthday of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. 

On that festive thought I leave you with big hopes for Peace
Ruth Mitchell

No comments: