International Campaigning

The "Canberra Commission"

On 26 November last year, Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating announced his "initiative for a nuclear weapons-free world" with the establishment of a 15 member Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. This "Canberra Commission" is tasked with proposing "practical steps towards a nuclear weapons-free world including the related problem of maintaining stability and security during the transitional period and after this goal is accomplished." The Commission will meet 3 or 4 times beginning early in the new year. It will report to Keating by 31 August 1996. The Australian Government then intends to submit the report of the Commission to the 1996 United Nations General Assembly and to the Conference on Disarmament.

Members of the Commission are:

Ambassador Celso Amorim from Brazil: former Foreign minister 1993-94 and current Permanent Representative at the UN

General George Butler from US: Commander in Chief of US Strategic Air Command 1991/2 served as deputy to General Pail

Ambassador Richard Butler: Australian Ambassador to UN and former Disarmament Ambassador

Field Marshal the Lord Carver UK: Commander in Chief Far East of the British Army (1967-69), Chief of Defence Staff (1973-76)

Ambassador Dhanapala, Sri Lanka: Chaired 1995 NPT Conference, former Director of UNIDIR, Ambassador for Sri Lanka to UN

Ambassador Rolf Ekeus, Sweden: Executive Chair UN Special Commission - mandate to identify and eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Former Ambassador for Disarmament and Ambassador to CSCE

Ambassador Dr Nabil Elaraby, Egypt: international lawyer, member of International Law Commission. Ambassador of Egypt to UN, New York

Prof Imai, Japan: Counsellor to the Japan Atomic Power Company. Former Ambassador of Japan to CD, to Kuwait and Mexico.

Dr Ron McCoy, Malaysia Chair IPPNW Malaysia, President Malaysian Medical Association

Robert McNamara, US : Former Secretary of Defence under Kennedy and Johnson

Prof Robert O'Neill, Australian in UK. Prof of History of War, Oxford; former Director International Institute Strategic Studies London.

Michael Rocard, France: Former Prime Minister 1988-92). member European Parliament and French Senate.
Prof Joseph Rotblat, UK: Winner 1995 Nobel Peace Prize, President Pugwash.

Prof Roald Sagdeev, Russia: Prof Physics Dept University of Maryland and Director of the East-West Space Science Centre. Former Chair Committee of Soviet Scientists for Global Security

Dr Maj-Britt Theorin, Sweden: Member EU, Former Swedish Ambassador for Disarmament and President IPB, Chair of UN Commission of Experts on Nuclear Weapons 1989/90.

Later, two additional personalities have joined the Commission:

Jacques-Yves Cousteau, France: well-known oceanographer and ecologist

Qian Jiandonq China: a former Ambassador for Disarmament According to Prime Minister Keating's statement, "The Commission will consider and develop recommendations on the following issues:

Identification of concrete and realistic steps for achieving a nuclear weapons free world, including the development and establishment of necessary verification and control mechanisms and new international legal obligations. Possible areas of focus include:

The contribution of a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; Nuclear Weapon Free Zones; a "cut-off" convention on the cessation of production of fissile material for nuclear weapons; a possible treaty requiring all states to declare and account for their present stocks of fissile material; and the strengthening of the international safeguards system;

Carrying through of the commitment by the nuclear weapon states to eliminate their nuclear stockpiles through a systematic process, including safe and secure arrangements for weapons dismantlement and destruction and

The problem of nuclear threshold states and the related issue of achieving universal participation in the NPT. development of durable security agreements, both globally and regionally, including

The maintenance of a system of stable deterrence while the reduction and eventual elimination of nuclear weapons is being achieved;

The link with other weapons of mass destruction and their control or elimination; and

Measures to prevent break-out, nuclear theft and nuclear terrorism/criminality.

Other related issues the Commission may identify during its work.

On December 1995, Jackie Cabasso the US-based Western States Legal Foundation, and a member of Abolition 2000 Network's Clearinghouse, received the following letter from the Australian Embassy in The Hague:

Dear Ms. Cabasso,

I am writing an behalf of Ambassador Tate to thank the Abolition Global Network for its support of Australia's initiative to establish a group of eminent persons to produce a considered step-by-step approach to the attainment of a nuclear weapons free world.

As you may be aware, Australia's Prime Minister, the Honourable P.J. Keating, announced this week the formation of the Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. A copy of the Prime Minister's statement, the proposed mandate of the Commission and details of the individuals who have agreed to be a part of this Commission are enclosed for your information. The selection of the composition of the Commission was a difficult task.

In order to keep the Commission to a manageable size, it was necessary to limit participation to individuals and not representatives of countries or non-government organisations (NGO's). Several of the Commissioners are, however, actively involved with disarmament NGO's, and two of the participants suggested by Abolition 2000, Professor Rotblat and Dr. Maj Britt Theorin, are included in the Commission. All of the Commissioners participate as individuals not as representatives of NGO's or their countries. The Australian Government would like to stay in contact with key NGO'S, including your network, and will continue to liaise with them as the Commission's work develops.

Thank you again for your support for this important initiative.

Yours sincerely, Jure Juszczyk Charge d'Affaires

On 22 December last year, there was a meeting of Alyn Ware, USA, and Dr. Nabil Elaraby, member of the Commission. Excerpts from the report on this meeting:

We suggested the following all of which Dr Elaraby agreed with:

1) The commission promote the negotiating of a convention on the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons. That a good time to make an initial plug for this would be immediately following the decision from the International Court of Justice on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons.

2) That the commission consider public events, such as press conferences and joint seminars with abolition network groups.

3) That the work of the Commission extend beyond 1996, the date specified in the original mandate.

4) That the Commission consider recommending a Security Council Summit in 1997 on abolition of nuclear weapons, and/or a joint citizens/leaders Summit not attached to the Security Council.

5) That the Commission recognize the need for conventional disarmament, peace making, conflict resolution and adherence to international law as well as nuclear disarmament.

Regarding the negotiating venue for a nuclear weapons convention, Dr. Elaraby noted that the CD was ineffective in stimulating negotiations because every member had a virtual veto over progress. Thus, a separate negotiating forum should be established by the UN General Assembly.

Dr. Elaraby is interested in meeting up with us again after the Canberra meeting."

The address of the Commission is:

Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons
c/o International Security Division
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Canberra ACT 2600, Australia
Tel.: (61-6) 261 1264
Fax: (61-6) 261 2640

Nuclear testing update