…which of course continues through May 14 so there may be more news to come, but Paul and I are back in DC, and most of the other non-New York CIty Peace Actionistas have left the PrepCom. I blogged about some of this but here are my top “take-aways” from three days at the NPT PrepCom:
1. The meetings were much, much better than I thought they’d be, mostly because of the terrific NGO activists who were there at the UN. The official governmental presentations were fine, and of course the US participation in the NPT review process is light years better than under Bush, but it was the NGO sessions that inspired me (and I think the other Peace Actionistas who were there, but please feel free to share your experiences on this listserv). The official NGO presentations to the PrepCom were outstanding (my fave was Pierre Villard of the Mouvement de la Paix shredding deterrence theory), as were the “side events” organized by our colleagues.
2. There is a high level of consensus to use the period up to and including next year’s NPT Review Conference to push beyond incremental arms control, reduction and non-proliferation measures and call for the initiation of negotiations on eliminating nuclear weapons (as our e-alert and letter to the president did yesterday). In addition to US colleagues (and there will be some US groups who don’t agree with pushing for abolition using NPT Review Conference in 2010 as a key leverage point but that’s okay), we had excellent meetings with international colleagues from Japan, Britain, France and Germany, as well as some folks representing international networks.
The first of two main pillars of the year-long campaign will be an international petition drive calling for abolition negotiations to commence before the NPT Rev Con, which is already underway through the efforts of the Japanese organization Gensuikyo, and related activities which could include congressional or grasstops sign-on letters to President Obama (with possible similar efforts in other countries). The second main component of the campaign will be a rally, public education conference, and possible Washington, DC lobby day next May at the beginning of the NPT Rev Con.
3. I have been concerned at the disconnect between the vision President Obama laid out of a nuclear weapons free world (which of course we have had for a long time and want to happen soon, not “perhaps not in (his) lifetime” as he said in Prague) and the mostly business as usual attitude in the nuclear priesthood and the bureaucracy in the federal government, which could, if unchecked, thwart any transformation of US nuclear weapons policy. However, from the meetings in New York and a separate one with colleagues in Washington today, I am very hopeful we can bridge that gap, and my hope is because of the dedication of the people of Peace Action and our US and international allies.