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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 24, March 1998

Editor's Introduction

The March issue features two contributions from Bradford University's Department of Peace Studies. Professor Paul Rogers reflects on the recent, narrow avoidance of war in Iraq and ponders the likely longevity and satisfactoriness of the agreement secured by the UN Secretary-General. Rogers argues that Iraq should not be seen as an isolated or exceptional case: "[C]rises involving weapons of mass destruction acquired by intermediate States are likely to occur in the coming years. Iraq is, in a sense, a model for future crises, and as with Iraq, it should not be assumed that such crises are readily amenable to military solutions." Nicola Short subjects the December 1997 Ottawa Landmines Convention, and the often euphoric and grand claims made for the 'Ottawa Process' which produced it, to wide-ranging and critical scrutiny, arguing that "the treaty is weak in areas of traditional NGO [Non-Governmental Organization] concern" and that the value of the Process "may lie more in the principles it champions than in the blueprint it provides." The issue's third guest contributor is UN-based journalist Jim Wurst, who weighs the chances, in the wake of the landmines ban, of States Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) adopting protocols banning other "wicked weapons".

March saw agreement at the Conference on Disarmament (CD) on a programme of work for 1998. But, as Rebecca Johnson observes in her latest Geneva Update, there is concern that the CD is "still deadlocked on the politically-charged issues of fissban negotiations, nuclear disarmament and whether to work on landmines." Johnson explores the background to the adoption of the programme and the generally lukewarm reaction to it. She concludes: "Adoption of this 'lowest common denominator' work programme demonstrates more clearly than ever the need for a positive new mandate on disarmament from the international community."

Documents and Sources features material from the CD, the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission, a Mine Action Workshop in Ottawa, and US Congressional testimony on nuclear weapons and nuclear testing. News Review includes coverage of encouraging developments in Iraq, political upheaval and reorganisation in Russia, and the nuclear policy of the new Indian Government.

Disarmament Diplomacy welcomes letters and comments on all disarmament and non-proliferation issues, and especially invites suggestions and proposals on present and possible arms control measures.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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