The EU has persistently called for the immediate commencement and early conclusion of the negotiation of a Treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, based on document CD/1299 and the mandate contained therein. In the same vein, the EU has been encouraging all members of the Conference on Disarmament to exert their utmost efforts to break the impasse in the CD and adopt a comprehensive and balanced programme of work that includes the immediate commencement of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT).
Pursuant to the 2003 European Strategy against the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, the European Union (EU) “is committed to the multilateral treaty system, which provides the legal and normative basis for all nonproliferation efforts”, and “the EU policy is to pursue an international agreement on the prohibition of the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices”. In implementing the Strategy, the EU is actively supporting specific projects aimed at enhancing the multilateral non-proliferation system and multilateral confidence building measures.
On 8 December 2008, the European Council adopted a document entitled “New lines for action by the European Union in combating the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems”. The document states, inter alia, that the EU undertakes to continue and intensify action “in favour of starting negotiations on FMCT”.
Against this background, the EU supported the work of the 2014-2015 Group of Governmental Experts. All EU Member States voted in favour of UN General Assembly Resolution 71/259 entitled “Treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices”, which established a high-level FMCT expert preparatory group to consider and make recommendations on substantial elements of a future non-discriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other explosive devices. In particular, the resolution sets up an inclusive process of informal consultative meetings open to all United Nations Member States to allow for their participation in the FMCT process.
Council Decision 2017/2284
In an effort to provide support to States in the African, Asia-Pacific and Latin America and Caribbean regions to participate in the high-level FMCT expert preparatory group consultative process, the Council of the European Union adopted on 11 December 2017 Council Decision 2017/2284.
The aims of this project are:
- Facilitation of dialogue at the regional level among States in the African, the Asia-Pacific and the Latin America and Caribbean regions;
- Development of a sense of ownership of the issue among States in these regions;
- Involvement of relevant regional organisations in the discussions on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices to be negotiated in the framework of the Conference on Disarmament;
- Facilitation of the transmission of knowledge between academia, civil society organisations and Member States relating to fissile materials.
The project is based on the understanding that there is a need for States to fully comprehend the implications of a future treaty and its relationship with regional instruments on nuclear weapons free zones, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and other instruments at an early stage in the process. Therefore, the overall goal of Council Decision 2017/2284 is to provide funding to build a broad knowledge base on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or a fissile material cut-off treaty among the international community, in order to ensure that all UN Member States are in a position to fully engage in the consultative process as well as in any future negotiations in the framework of the Conference on Disarmament on such a treaty.
In the framework of the project UNODA organized six regional and sub-regional workshops, two meetings of experts and one national roundtable. The workshops provided knowledge and information on issues relevant to banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, including challenges to and opportunities for engaging in negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty, the possible scope and key elements of such a treaty, and its structure. The workshops promoted regional and sub-regional dialogue on a possible FMCT while enabling Governments to exchange views on how to address the fissile material issue.
Engaging UN Member States at the regional level complemented the informal consultative meetings held by the Chair of the high-level FMCT expert preparatory group, and thereby enhanced the quantitative and qualitative participation of States, and strengthened the inclusivity of future negotiation in the framework of the Conference on Disarmament of such a treaty.
The implementation of the projects is carried out by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) through its Geneva Branch and its Regional Disarmament Branch, the three regional centres for peace and disarmament in Africa (UNREC), Asia and the Pacific (UNRCPD) and Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC).