James ActonDisarmament Down Under

A Tuesday morning distraction for you. I meant to post this yesterday—a Monday morning distraction would be more usual after all—but then got distracted myself…

The Australian government recently announced that it would convene the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament to help build consensus ahead of the 2010 NPT Review onference.

Under its last Labor government, Australia, of course, launched another high-profile disarmament initiative in the form of the Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons (its webpage appears to be in the process of being updated).

Of course, it’s fun to speculate who might be tapped. The chairman of the Commission has already been announced as Gareth Evans, former Australian foreign minister. It’s probably safe to assume that the Commission will consist of 10—20 commissioners drawn from a range of nationalities.

So, who do you think the other commissioners should be?

Or, alternatively, who do you think they will be?

Answers in the comment box. For reference, the Canberra Commission consisted of the following:

• Celso Amorim (Brazil)
• Lee Butler (USA)
• Richard Butler (Australia)
• Michael Carver (UK)
• Jacques-Yves Cousteau (France)
• Jayantha Dhanapala (Sri Lanka)
• Rolf Ekeus (Sweden)
• Nabil Elaraby (Egypt)
• Ryukichi Imai (Japan)
• Ronald McCoy (Malaysia)
• Robert McNamara (US)
• Robert O’Neill (UK)
• Qian Jiadong (China)
• Michel Rocard (France)
• Joseph Rotblat (UK)
• Roald Sagdeev (Russia)
• Maj Britt Theorin (Sweden)


  1. abcd (History)

    The Egyptian Ambassador to Washington, Nabil Fahmy, is heading home to Cairo soon so I throw my support behind him. He has an interesting thing or two to say about disarmament.

  2. X

    I would like to see currently non-NPT and NPT NWS government officials to sit down and talk about nuclear disarmament. I recall the UK Secretary of State for Defence mentioned during the last PrepComm the possibility of a NPT NWS technical conference before the 2010 NPT Review Conference to discuss verification of nuclear disarmament. That meeting would be at the Lab level… What is the status of that proposal? I think we all are aware of the important contribution to arms control of the persons in the list, including Rotblat who is not longer with us. A Lab meeting and a meeting of current government officials would make a difference I think (Are there any other ongoing NWS meetings not many people are aware of?)

  3. X

    I have just double checked my information. It was during the February Session of the Conference on Disarmament that the UK mentioned the NPT NWS technical meeting: “As a next step, and following on from the AWE research, the UK is willing to host a technical conference of P5 nuclear laboratories on the verification of nuclear disarmament before the next NPT Review Conference in 2010. We hope such a conference will enable the five recognised nuclear weapons states to reinforce a process of mutual confidence building: working together to solve some of these difficult technical issues.” Sorry about the mistake!

  4. MarkoB

    How ‘bout Jeffrey Lewis?

  5. Stephen (History)

    Is this sort of thing seen as a valuable contribution by Australia? Or is it seen as a bit of a joke?

  6. Rory Medcalf (History)

    ‘Bit of a joke’ is a little harsh! It is not a bad move by Australia, provided that the selection of commissioners is credible and representative, and that the Rudd Government does what the Howard Government failed to do with the Canberra Commission: that is, seriously advocate some of the recommendations of the new commission. But where the Rudd initiative risks being a disappointment is its potential to serve as a substitute for creative arms control diplomacy by Australia in the intergovernmental first track. The crucial indicator will be whether the Rudd Government gives the new commission funding and secretariat support in addition to the meagre resources Australia currently devotes to arms control diplomacy. If not, i.e. if Canberra’s handful of arms control officials are expected to run a major global expert panel as well as doing their day-to-day diplomacy (as well as trying to generate and pursue new diplomatic initiatives, like kickstarting FMCT negotiations or pestering nuclear-armed states to reduce their reliance on nuclear weapons), then the new commission could indeed amount to a lost opportunity. Also, there is no reason for Australia to wait til the new commission delivers its report in late 2009 before embarking on new arms control initiatives: the Canberra Commission, Tokyo Forum and Blix Commission contain many recommendations that remain entirely relevant, and provide a menu for supposedly activist governments.

  7. Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (History)

    Rudd’s announcement of this new International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament is a good sign that the world may be moving forward in implementing Article VI of the NPT.

    We at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation are circulating an Appeal to the Next President of the United States of America for a nuclear weapons-free world. The Appeal calls on the next President to take seven specific steps in making a nuclear weapons-free world a reality in the coming years.

    So please visit http://www.makeworldsafer.com, and help us make the world nuclear-free!

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