Watching global governance fail is a sobering thing. The 9th Review Conference of the NPT ended late in the evening of Friday 22 May with no final outcome document – no frank assessment of progress, no benchmarks, and no plans. At a time when there are serious fears that disarmament processes are in reverse, and strategic tensions between India and Pakistan and NATO and Russia are increasingly worrying, international society came up empty. Great power veto and the most narrow self-interest was allowed to ride roughshod over the interests of humanity and the security of the planet.
On a stairway above first avenue in New York City, opposite the United Nations, is a wall into which are carved the famous words from the Book of Isaiah: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation. Neither shall they learn war anymore.”
The 9th Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) has now been underway for a week, at the United Nations Headquarters. The five-yearly “Revcon” is a crucial international meeting that has the aim of improving and strengthening one of the most important global security regimes: the nuclear nonproliferation regime.