On 22nd November 2018, BASIC hosted a roundtable with the support of the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 16 next-generation leaders from the academic and NGO communities in Europe attended with the purpose of assessing the state of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and identifying initiatives on which progress could feasibly be made ahead of the Review Conference in 2020. The event was held under Chatham House rules. The roundtable was the first in a series.
The NPT is lacking in leadership. The current review cycle is plagued by destabilising trends, which include: the breakdown in U.S.-Russia arms control; waning prospects for a WMD Free Zone in the Middle East (WMDFZME); and enduring frustration with lack of progress towards nuclear disarmament. The lack of progress in pursuing the objectives of disarmament, as set out clearly in the 2010 NPT Review Conference 64 point action plan, has led to the creation of the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, more commonly known as the Ban Treaty. Expectations may be low for NPT RevCon 2020 yet we cannot afford for the non-proliferation regime to slide into insignificance.
The step-by-step approach remains a credible pathway towards global nuclear disarmament, but requires reinvigorating. While many ‘big step’ solutions appear out of reach presently, stymied by the positions of key states, there remains a chance for states to identify the smaller and more manageable steps at this difficult time.