BULLETIN FOR THE ABOLITION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS
International CampaigningThe "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
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
Michael Rocard, France: Former Prime Minister 1988-92).
member European Parliament and French Senate.
Prof Joseph Rotblat, UK: Winner 1995 Nobel Peace Prize,
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
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
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
The maintenance of a system of stable deterrence while the
reduction and eventual elimination of nuclear weapons is being
The link with other weapons of mass destruction and their
control or elimination;
Measures to prevent break-out, nuclear theft and
Other related issues the Commission may identify during its
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
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
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
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
The address of the Commission is:Canberra Commission on
the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons
c/o International Security
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Tel.: (61-6) 261 1264
Fax: (61-6) 261 2640
Nuclear testing update