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International relations

Report of the Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

ISBN: 0 642 25090 1


The destructiveness of nuclear weapons is immense. Any use would be catastrophic.

Nuclear weapons pose an intolerable threat to all humanity and its habitat, yet tens of thousands remain in arsenals built up at an extraordinary time of deep antagonism. That time has passed, yet assertions of their utility continue.

These facts are obvious but their implications have been blurred. There is no doubt that, if the peoples of the world were more fully aware of the inherent danger of nuclear weapons and the consequences of their use, they would reject them, and not permit their continued possession or acquisition on their behalf by their governments, even for an alleged need for self-defence.

Nuclear weapons are held by a handful of states which insist that these weapons provide unique security benefits, and yet reserve uniquely to themselves the right to own them. This situation is highly discriminatory and thus unstable; it cannot be sustained. The possession of nuclear weapons by any state is a constant stimulus to other states to acquire them.

The world faces threats of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism. These threats are growing. They must be removed.

For these reasons, a central reality is that nuclear weapons diminish the security of all states. Indeed, states which possess them become themselves targets of nuclear weapons.

The opportunity now exists, perhaps without precedent or recurrence, to make a new and clear choice to enable the world to conduct its affairs without nuclear weapons and in accordance with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

The members of the Canberra Commission call upon the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China to give the lead by committing themselves, unequivocally, to the elimination of all nuclear weapons. Such a commitment would propel the process in the most direct and imaginative way. All other governments must join this commitment and contribute to its fulfilment.

The Commission has identified a series of steps which can be taken immediately and which would thereupon make the world safer.

The Commission has also described the practical measures which can be taken to bring about the verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons and the full safeguarding of militarily usable nuclear material.

A nuclear weapon free world can be secured and maintained through political commitment, and anchored in an enduring and binding legal framework.

Last Updated: 30 June 2016
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