Sunday, 4 December 2016

Mr Johnson's very partial respect for international rules based world order

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson, in his speech on 2 December at Chatham House think tank in London aiming to  re-set the strategic direction of British foreign policy, stressed that after the second world war, in contrast to the geo-political dominance strategy of defeated Nazi Germany, the United Kingdom  and United states established:

“a new system based not on power, not on centralised and federal law-making but on rules embodied by genuinely global institutions..”

which included, he noted,  creation of the United Nations.(

But Mr Johnson  presents a very partial version of what he terms the merits of “our emphasis on the rules-based system.”

The most egregious case is the UK’s refusal to meet its international obligations to engage in negotiations towards nuclear disarmament in good faith and at an early date, which is what   the UK signed to do under article 6 of the 1968 nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) - a rules-based agreement which British diplomats helped to draft- between 1966-68

There was a perfect recent opportunity for the United Kingdom to demonstrate at the United Nations  its commitment to multilateral negotiated nuclear disarmament, but on 27 October at the UN First Committee, when 123 countries adopted a landmark resolution to launch negotiations in 2017 on a treaty outlawing nuclear weapons, the  UK along  with US ( whose outgoing President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for promoting nuclear disarmament) ,voted against. Even North Korea voted for!

Meanwhile the US Government pressurized fellow NATO countries to vote down the ban, as was revealed in a leaked memo distributed  to member states of the Committee on Proliferation by the US Ambassador to NATO dated 17 October. (
Documents I uncovered the British National Archives in Kew reveal what British diplomats predicted should happen with the nuclear disarmament commitment

On 23 January 1968, Fred (later Lord) Mulley, as the UK Labour Government's minister of state for foreign affairs, addressed the 358th plenary meeting of the Eighteen Nation Committee on Disarmament (ENDC) in Geneva, the predecessor committee to the current Conference on Disarmament, explaining why nations should sign up to the newly negotiated NPT, he told the ministerial delegations:
 "As I have made clear in previous speeches, my government accepts the obligation to participate fully in the negotiations required by [NPT] Article VI and it is our desire that these negotiations should begin as soon as possible and should produce speedy and successful results. There is no excuse now for allowing a long delay to follow the signing of this treaty."(emphasis added)

Mr Johnson declared his was “the first in a series of speeches setting out our foreign policy strategy, is that this global approach is in the interests both of Britain and the world.”

Perhaps he could explain when his Government intends to fulfill a 48 year old commitment to the international community to start negotiating way nuclear weapons.

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