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19.11.2020 – Northampton, United States – Timmon Wallis

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Outlawing Everything To Do With Nuclear Weapons

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) outlaws the use of nuclear weapons. But that is not what makes this treaty so important. Indeed, many would argue that any conceivable use of nuclear weapons would inevitably violate the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law and therefore the use of nuclear weapons was already illegal, long before the TPNW came along. What is illegal now, however, is not just the use of nuclear weapons, but everything to do with nuclear weapons.

The TPNW outlaws everything to do with nuclear weapons, and therefore has the potential to seriously affect the companies who make nuclear weapons, and through them, the politicians whose campaigns they finance.

The TPNW outlaws the development, testing, production, manufacture, possession, stockpiling, transfer, stationing and deployment of nuclear weapons. It also outlaws assisting, encouraging or inducing anyone at all from engaging in any of those activities. Why is that so significant?

While the treaty’s prohibitions are legally binding only in the countries (50 so far) that become “States Parties” to the treaty, those prohibitions do not apply only to the activities of governments. Article 1(e) of the treaty prohibits States Parties from assisting “anyone” engaged in any of those prohibited activities. That clearly refers to private companies and individuals who may be involved in the nuclear weapons business.

Don’t Bank on the Bomb identifies 26 private companies currently involved in the nuclear weapons business globally. These include 15 companies based in the US, as well as a few based in India, China, and Europe. There are offices of at least one of these companies in two dozen of the countries that are about to become States Parties. Honeywell, for example, has offices in 13 of these countries. Many more of the companies have projects, including government contracts, in these countries.

More and more countries will be joining the TPNW in the coming months and years, and the pressure on private companies involved in the nuclear weapons business will continue to grow. These companies are already facing public and financial pressures not only from soon-to-be States Parties, but also from within their own countries. Two of the five largest pension funds in the world have divested from nuclear weapons, and other financial institutions are following their example.

Nuclear weapons still exist largely because the companies involved in the business wield such enormous power over government policies and decision-making, especially in the United States. They are among the largest donors to congressional re-election campaigns. They spend millions of dollars on lobbyists in Washington. And they provide a “revolving door” for out-of-work politicians who may be looking for a lucrative consultancy contract or a position on some company’s Board of Directors.

We are unlikely to see any significant change in US policy towards nuclear weapons until those companies start to feel some real pressure coming from this treaty. Until they realize that their own futures depend on diversifying their activities away from nuclear weapons, these companies will continue to be the driving force for maintaining these weapons.

Public pressure on the nuclear weapons companies in the 1980s led many of them to turn their backs on nuclear weapons. The politicians quickly followed, and we had the first major reductions of nuclear stockpiles since the onset of the Cold War.

This time, we have an even more critical need. We need the money and the brainpower being poured into nuclear weapons “modernization” to create the technologies needed for a green and sustainable future. We are now facing not one, but two, existential threats to our planet. By using the TPNW to put pressure on the nuclear weapons companies, we have at least a fighting chance of surviving both.

21.11.2020 – Al Arabiya

What is the G20, and what is different at this year’s Riyadh summit?
First Sherpa Meeting (Image by the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.)

Marco Ferrari, Al Arabiya English

This year’s G20 summit will be an event quite unlike any in the organization’s history.

Hosted by Saudi Arabia, the Leaders’ Summit will bring leaders from 19 of the most powerful countries and the European Union together.

But travel restrictions and concerns over social distancing due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic mean that invitees will have to take part in a virtual conference.

This year’s agenda also looks different to previous years. The global financial crash wreaked by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic will be high on the agenda for this year’s summit, as leaders are expected to discuss ways of dealing with the fallout of worldwide lockdowns over the past year and the ongoing race to develop and roll out a vaccine.

What is the G20?

Founded in 1999 as a platform for national banks and governments of 19 countries and the European Union, the G20 expanded its operations and began hosting regular leaders’ summits in 2008.

It invited world leaders from 19 countries and the European Union to discuss matters of international monetary policy.

The presidency rotates between member countries every year.

Its roots can be traced back to the Bretton Woods conference at the end of the Second World War, an early meeting of world leaders to discuss cross-border monetary policy.

Its members are: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States, while Spain is a permanent guest invitee. Additionally, Jordan, Singapore, and Switzerland have been invited as guests to this year’s summit. Several international organizations, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Trade Organization (WTO) are also invited.

Discussions at the G20 summits revolve around issues affected global trade – both political and regulatory. For example: at 2019’s summit in Osaka, members committed to reforming the WTO’s dispute settlement system – which enforces rules about how trade is conducted between WTO members.

2020 G20 Riyadh summit Logo / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

What is different this year?

Aside from the fact that world leaders will not be attending the event in person, this year’s G20 summit is expected to focus on addressing the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. It will be the first time the summit is hosted by an Arab nation.

Saudi Arabia’s agenda this year is focused on three key areas: empowering people, safeguarding the planet, and shaping new frontiers for the future.

The Kingdom is expected to discuss ways for providing opportunities for everyone around the world – with a particular focus on women and young people. Environmental concerns will also play a role, as carbon emissions and ocean preservation will be discussed. Finally, there will also be a focus on the future of AI and the digital economy.

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We must act and dare the appropiateness and not whatever comes to our mind not floating in the likelihood but grasp the reality as brave as we can be freedom lies in action not in the absence of mind obedience knows the essence of good and satisfies it, freedom dares to act and returns God the ultimate judgment of what is right and what is wrong, Obedience performs blindly but Freedom is wide awake Freedom wants to know why, Obedience has its hands tied, Freedom is inventive obedient man respects God’s commands and by virtu of his Freedom, he creats new commands. Both Obedience and Freedom come true in responsability (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

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