Basis for the submission
Prepare a submission on a piece of legislation currently accepting submissions before a Parliamentary Select Committee. The submission should:
Identify the committee title, members of the committee and Chairperson and full title of the bill.
Clearly indicate the basis for your submission.
Provide a critical analysis of the content of the Bill.
This submission discusses the International Treaty Examination of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. New Zealand has been on the forefront in supporting the treaty that prohibits nuclear activities thereby demonstrating to the entire world that it supports a nuclear weapon free world and therefore advocates for a peaceful world fit for all to live in. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons entails clear outlines of prohibitions which outlaw participation of all nations of the world in any activities related to nuclear weapons (Nanda, 2008). The treaty acknowledges the ethical imperatives of disarmament of nuclear weapons as well as the urgent need for the world to ensure the achievement of a nuclear weapon free universe as the best way of reducing the destructive humanitarian consequences caused due to the use of nuclear weapons.
Conversely, the treaty recognizes the immense suffering of survivors of atomic bomb and nuclear tests as well as the disproportionate effects of nuclear weapons as well as other activities related to the use of nuclear weapons and the impacts on indigenous members of the community such as women, children and people from minority groups. The nuclear weapon engagements banned by the treaty include any activity related to the development, testing, production, acquisition, possession, stockpiling, use of or threats of using the nuclear weapons (Rappert & Moyes, 2009).
Similarly, this treaty bans all nations from deploying nuclear weapons on their own territory as well as on other nations’ territories. Moreover, the treaty prohibits any nation from providing assistance to a State which engages in the prohibited nuclear activities. Furthermore, the treaty vests the power of prevention and suppression of the prohibited nuclear activities in the State parties to the treaty. The State parties have an obligation of preventing and suppressing any form of activity prohibited to a State Party in line with this treaty undertaken by any State under its control.
In order for it to be implemented in a manner that ensures that global economic and technological developments are not hampered, there is a requirement for this treaty to be properly safeguarded (Templeton, 2006). Conversely, the Treaty on the prohibition of Nuclear weapons mandates State Parties with obligation of providing assistance to persons or States which suffer as a result of the use or testing of the Nuclear weapons. The protection does not only cover human life but also extents to remedying the environment in areas affected by nuclear activities. The treaty represents a critical contribution and step towards a common global resolve to ensure that the world is a peaceful place for human habitation without fear due to the elimination of the very dangerous nuclear weapons (Anastassov, 2009).
Analysis of the content of the Bill
Debates on this treaty indicate a clear reflection of the growing concerns over the threat of continually manufacturing and using nuclear weapons. Similarly, the concerns indicate the increasing global awareness of the catastrophic humanitarian implications of which will arise if nations are allowed to continue with the manufacture and use of nuclear weapons. This treaty which was passed on July 7, 2017 requires the signature of at least 50 nations to pass it and make it. Supporting this treaty whose main goal is to ensure a complete elimination of nuclear weapons from the surface of the earth is an indication of a deep concern for humanity.
New Zealand is recognized world over as being the first nation to begin the debate on the prohibition of nuclear weapons. Therefore, as the mother of the treaty, it is in order for the national parliament of New Zealand to take the leading role in discussing the various debates which have risen as a result of the prohibition of nuclear activities by the treaty (Richardson, 2011). By discussing this treaty, the country follows in its beautiful history of taking the lead in enlightening the world on the need for ensuring a peaceful society by eliminating the production of dangerous weapons such as the nuclear weapons which pose a serious threat to the existence of humanity.
The discussion of the treaty under the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Committee, plays a significant role in the promotion of a global campaign focusing on the unacceptability of using nuclear weapons and gives hope to the hopeless that the treaty will be adopted thereby renewing momentum on the disarmament of nuclear weapons. Today world over, there is fear over the likelihood of the emergent of the Third World War (Wittner, 2009). Nations, especially from the Middle East seem to be preparing to cause harm.
Looking at situations in nations such as Syria and North Korea, it sends a clear signal that human life could be under serious threat. Going by the catastrophic consequences emerging from the use of nuclear weapons in the Second War; the Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 1945 atomic bombings, there is all reasons to fear use of nuclear weapons. Moreover, the devastating effects of nuclear weapons on the environment is also another reason as to why everybody should be scared with the mere mention of the word nuclear weapon (Conte, 2010). A few nations have signed the treaty signaling their support on the ban of nuclear weapons and among the first nations to sign the treaty was New Zealand in September 2017. This was a good move which signals how selfless the country is and how New Zealand values respect for humanity.
Argument on why New Zealand should support the Treaty
Unfortunately, despite it being very clear that nuclear weapons possess a serious threat to global peace as well as to the existence of the entire human race, many nations, the world superpowers included have been reluctant to sign the treaty (Reitzig, 2006). Having shown her commitment towards ensuring that nuclear weapons are eliminated from the face of the earth by adopting the Arms control, Nuclear Free Zone and Disarmament Act in 1987 which is regarded as the beginning of the recent debates on the prohibition of nuclear weapons as well as having been among the first nations to sign the 2017 treaty prohibiting the production and use of nuclear weapons, it is in the world’s best interest that the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Committee adopts the treaty.
New Zealand has a long history of fighting for the safety of the universe. Being the first ally of the United States to adopt legislation that barred nuclear activities within its waters and territory in 1987, New Zealand is known to be a country that has been on the forefront in the fight for disarmament (Catalinac, 2010). The recent debate on the prohibition of nuclear weapon is thought to have its roots in this legislation of 1987 by New Zealand. Therefore, steps taken towards ensuring that there are no nuclear weapon activities are in line with New Zealand long history of fighting for disarmament. China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom and United States; the world’s big five nations known for the manufacture of nuclear weapons are opposed to the move to ban nuclear activities.
The opposition to the treaty is founded on the argument that nuclear deterrence is unsustainable and inherently unstable. Similarly, they argue that by prohibiting nuclear weapon activities, it raises the risk of the manufacture and use of the weapons without control (Magnerella, 2008). According to the big five, nuclear weapon ban will give room for the proliferation as well as use of nuclear weapons by miscalculation, intent or by accident. The effect of using nuclear weapons by accident or intentionally according to the big five could be catastrophic. Therefore, according to the big five, nuclear activities should be allowed and that instead of completely prohibiting the manufacture and use of nuclear weapons, control measures should be put in place to ensure responsible production and use of the nuclear weapons.
On the other hand, New Zealand has for long been known for her fight towards ensuring a Nuclear Free Zone, arms control as well as disarmament (Graham & LaVera, 2011). For instance, in the wake of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986, on June 8, 1987, the national parliament adopted the Arms control, Nuclear Free Zone and Disarmament Act which served as a clear demonstration of New Zealand’s resolve to prohibit nuclear activities both by its citizens as well as any of her agents across the world. The adoption of this legislation came with consequences such as the deterioration of the friendship ties with her longtime allies such as United States, United Kingdom, Australia, France and Canada.
Despite the loss of friends, the then Prime Minister, David Lange, pointed out that New Zealand would not trade anything for nuclear weapon ban (Lavallette & Pratt, 2006). He maintained that although the nation stood to lose its longtime close allies, it would use all its powers economically, culturally and militarily to ensure that there were no nuclear activities in the world. Despite internal opposition to the legislation from a large position of the public sector citing the likelihood of the nation being undefended amid the Cold War environment, her resolve in defending the prohibition of nuclear weapons was strong. As a result, the legislation managed to survive both internal and external pressure thereby making New Zealand to gain a global recognition of a peaceful as well as “clean-green” nation due to her peace and disarmament initiatives globally.
Going by such legislations, New Zealand has had a long history of championing for global disarmament using the force of morality as well as the law (Hudson & Lowe, 2009). The nation is therefore used to facing opposition from the military and politically might of the big five nuclear powers of China, Russia, United States, United Kingdom and France. It is therefore highly likely that the nation will face stiff opposition in its support of the prohibition of nuclear weapons from the big five nuclear nations. Nevertheless, just like the past parliamentarians have done in the past, it is high time the New Zealand parliament continued with the nation’s long history of fighting against the production and use of nuclear weapons.
Previous Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Committees have put the nation on the global map by adopting the Arms control, Nuclear Free Zone and Disarmament Act of June 8, 1987. It is courtesy of this Act that other nations embraced the fight against the production and use nuclear weapons. Therefore, this makes the entire debate on International Treaty Examination of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons a New Zealand affair (Hogwood & Gun, 1984). The debate was initiated by New Zealand through the 1987 Arms control, Nuclear Free Zone and Disarmament Act.
Just like in the 1987 case whereby the big five nuclear weapon producers were opposed to the Act prohibiting the production and use of nuclear weapons, the current debate on the prohibition of nuclear weapons is faced with opposition from the politically and militarily stronger nations. According to the statement of Winston Peters, the Disarmament Minister, New Zealand in its continuation of the support on the disarmament initiatives and ensuring that there is no production and use of nuclear weapons, the country will ratify the treaty as an expression of its abiding commitment to ensuring a nuclear free world. His move just like in the past may lead to the loss of ties with her strong allies such as the United States (Ham & Hill, 1993).
Nonetheless, New Zealand has been in this position before where she had to endure a strained relationship with her close allies such as the United States, Canada and Australia. The consequences of producing and using nuclear weapons make it worth taking the risk of ratifying the treaty and losing allies. No consequence compares to that caused by nuclear weapons to humanity to human life. Its use can cause death due to the vast amounts of explosive energy that is released which leads to radiation and excessively high temperatures. The practical example of the devastating consequences of nuclear weapons is the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear attack which led to the loss of thousands of lives in a matter of seconds. Moreover, nuclear activities causes emission of greenhouse gasses which contributes to global warming.
Nevertheless, in the past attempts to control nuclear activities, caution has been taken not to hamper global technological and economic developments coming as a result of the use of nuclear energy. Nations believed that as much as nuclear activities can have catastrophic consequences, the use of nuclear energy can have positive consequences to the economy and technology (Wallis & Dolley, 1999). In order to ensure that nations do not use the protection of the positive use nuclear energy to proliferate and use nuclear weapons, control and restrictive measures have been put in place. For instance, nations used the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material of 1980 in an attempt to make it difficult for any nation to use nuclear weapons for other purposes rather than peaceful purposes.
According to this Convention, State Parties are obliged to ensure that in the course of transporting nuclear materials to be used for positive purposes, the transporters categorize the materials and place them in special annex with an agreed level of protection. However, this consideration has been abused. For instance, North Korea have has been reluctant to abandon its manufactures and testing of nuclear weapons which is a breach of the treaty prohibiting the use of nuclear weapons.
In an attempt to demonstrate its ability in launching ballistic missiles, North Korea has in the recent past been engaged in a series of nuclear and missile tests beyond her borders (McGee, 2005). Such exercises together with statements made by the Kim Jong-un administration pointing out that the development of North Korea’s nuclear capability was at a faster rate than had been reported after the United States assessments has led to the current tension between the two nations. Due to both the United States and North Korea being producers of nuclear weapons, war between these two nations which could provide chance for testing and showcasing the nuclear weapon might, has the potential of not only affecting the two nations but rather spreading over and affecting the entire world.
This is the biggest fear surrounding the debates on the production and use of nuclear weapons. Therefore, in the ratification of the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear activities, the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Committee should propose the total elimination of nuclear weapons whether for positive or negative purposes. This is the only way nations such as North Korea which have used the protection of the treaty on the production and use of nuclear products for peaceful purposes as a loophole to produce harmful nuclear weapons.
O’Connor Simon – Chairperson
Macindoe Tim –Deputy Chairperson
Ghahraman Golriz –Member
Jackson Willie – Member
McClay Todd –Member
Penk Chris –Member
Wall Louisa –Member
Webb Duncan –Member
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