Disarmament and Non-proliferation

  • The Conference on Disarmament

    The Conference on Disarmament Photo: Ulf Lindell

Geneva is the center for the global work on disarmament and non-proliferation issues. The Conference on Disarmament, the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum is found here. The international frameworks on which the disarmament work is based, are also primarily dealt with in Geneva. The Swedish mission’s section for disarmament and non-proliferation represents Sweden in the international disarmament fora and works to promote the Swedish priorities on these matters.

Sweden’s priorities in disarmament and non-proliferation
The objective for Sweden’s work is to reduce and eliminate weapons of mass destruction, and prevent their proliferation. Sweden strives for further progress on the issue of nuclear disarmament. The objective is furthermore to regulate the accessibility of conventional weapons. In the Conference on Disarmament (CD) Sweden works to initiate substantive negotiations on further international disarmament instruments, which has not occurred since the adoption of the Test-Ban Treaty, CTBT, in 1996. Moreover, Sweden supports a continuous strengthening of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) through a wide and balanced implementation of the treaty. Another priority is to work for a strong treaty regulating the international trade of conventional weapons. 

It is important for Sweden that the European Union pursues a policy that aims for both disarmament and non-proliferation, not least when it comes to supporting measures that can strengthen the implementation of article VI of the NPT on nuclear disarmament. Priority is also given to avoidance of an arms race in outer space, cyber security and internet freedom, and equality and gender issues. The work on small arms and light weapons (SALW) within the EU is based on an action plan to combat destabilizing accumulation and spreading of SALW. In practice, large-scale development assistance is undertaken to countervail and reduce the illegal proliferation of SALW.

The Conference on Disarmament (CD), established in 1979, is the single multilateral disarmament negotiation forum. Sweden has actively contributed to all the treaties that have been negotiated in the CD and its predecessors, such as the Convention on the prohibition of bacteriological (biological) and toxin weapons (BTWC), the Convention on the prohibition of chemical weapons (CWC) and the Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). Most recently in March 2017, Sweden’s foreign minister gave a speech in the CD addressing the importance of the conference’s work. During 2018 Sweden will be one of the six states in the rotating presidency of the CD.

In addition to the work in the Conference on Disarmament, several conventions are dealt with in Geneva, see links.

The Convention on the prohibition of bacteriological (biological) and toxin weapons (BTWC) entered into force in 1975 and was the first convention to fully prohibit the production of an entire category of weapons. All meetings related to the Convention are held in Geneva, for example review conferences and annual meetings of experts and state parties. Sweden and the EU strive to strengthen the Convention’s implementation and its universalization (meaning that as many states as possible should sign and ratify it).

The Convention on the prohibition of anti-personnel mines (the Ottawa Convention) entered into force in 1999 and currently has 192 state parties. The Convention’s main objective is a prohibition of the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines. The Convention also includes a number of measures to deal with the prior use of anti-personnel mines. These are for example clearance of mine fields, victim assistance and assistance for stockpile destruction. Sweden concluded its destruction of its national stocks in 2002.

The Convention on prohibitions of certain conventional weapons (CCW) regulates or prohibits the types of weapons that “may be deemed to be excessively injurious or to have indiscriminate effects” on soldiers or civilians. The Convention and its five protocols cover inter alia incendiary weapons, permanently blinding laser weapons, mines, and explosive remnants of war. In recent years, the debate within the Convention has been on autonomous weapons systems (Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems, LAWS), Mines Other Than Anti-Personnel Mines (MOTAPMs), and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

The Convention on Cluster Munition (CCM) prohibits the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions. In this Convention, as in the Ottawa Convention, commitments are made to handle the prior use of cluster munitions. Sweden concluded the destruction of its cluster munitions (Bombkapsel 90) in 2015.

The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) establishes international rules for the transfer of conventional weapons, aiming to increase the responsibility and transparency in order to reduce the risks of these weapons being used to violate human rights and committing war crimes. The treaty furthermore contains requirements on assessing the risk of gender based violence before a transport is approved.

The First Committee in New York
Sweden annually participates in the United Nations General Assembly’s First Committee in New York, which primarily discusses disarmament and non-proliferation issues. During these weeks, the Swedish delegation consists of representatives from The Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Stockholm and the Swedish missions in Geneva and New York. The resolutions adopted in the First Committee are an indicator of the support for the different issues within disarmament.

Sweden and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
On 7 July  2017 the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted.  It was opened for signature on 20 September 2017. Sweden was active in the negotiations and the Government has now launched an inquiry into the consequences of a possible Swedish accession to the Treaty. The report of the inquiry is due October 31st 2018.

Sweden’s feminist foreign policy and disarmament issues
With our feminist foreign policy, Sweden has pursued an aimful work in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation. This has meant drawing attention to the effects of the utilization and irresponsible proliferation of weapons on women, men, girls and boys. As part of this work Sweden supports the development of gender statistics on the consequences of armed violence. Sweden also strives to increase female representation and influence in discussions, negotiations, preparations, interpretations and implementation of resolutions and key documents on disarmament and non-proliferation.