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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 44, March 2000

New Zealand Government and Australian Opposition Step Up Pressure for Nuclear Disarmament in Run-Up to NPT Conference

On February 23, the New Zealand Parliament unanimously adopted a motion on nuclear disarmament proposed by Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark. The motion was timed to coincide with a visit to New Zealand by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The motion states that the Parliament appeals "to all fellow member states of the United Nations, and especially the nuclear-weapon states, to join New Zealand in fulfilling the obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control", adding that the motion would "be conveyed by the Government to each and every member state of the United Nations by the most effective diplomatic means available".

On March 9, the Australian Senate adopted a motion, by 33 votes to 27, echoing New Zealand's call, urging "that the nuclear nuclear-weapon states reject the indefinite possession of nuclear weapons and policies based on their possession, unequivocally commit to the elimination of all nuclear weapons, and agree to start work immediately on the practical steps and negotiations required to achieve this goal." The motion was proposed by the Labour opposition and opposed by the National-Liberal Coalition Government of John Howard. In a statement on the day of the vote, Shadow Foreign Minister Laurie Brereton observed that the Senate motion "sends a valuable message to the international community and especially to the nuclear-weapon states in the run-up to next month's NPT Review Conference." Brereton added that the "motion today draws its inspiration directly from the Canberra Commission and the New Agenda Coalition. … The Howard Government's refusal to support Labour's motion…was positively embarrassing. The Government's approach could not be more short-sighted."

Note: see next issue for coverage and analysis of the nuclear debate in New Zealand and Australia, including extracts from an interview with New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Reports: Motion passed in New Zealand Parliament, February 23 (courtesy of Alyn Ware); Senate motion on nuclear disarmament, Press Release (30/00) from Laurie Brereton, March 9.

© 2000 The Acronym Institute.

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