Nuclear-weapon-free zone initatives: challenges and opportunities for regional cooperation on non-proliferation

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Hamel-Green, Michael (2009) Nuclear-weapon-free zone initatives: challenges and opportunities for regional cooperation on non-proliferation. Global Change, Peace and Security, 21 (3). pp. 357-376. ISSN 1478-1158


The successful 2006 negotiation of the Central Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (CANWFZ) Treaty indicates the continuing relevance of regional denuclearization measures as an important element in global non-proliferation strategies. Following on earlier nuclear-weapon-free zones in Latin America, the South Pacific, Southeast Asia and Africa, the CANWFZ is the first to be wholly located in the Northern hemisphere. Such zones face major challenges, including the existence of major regional conflicts, regional proliferation developments, lack of effective regional organizations in some regions for negotiating cooperative security arrangements, and difficulties in securing negative security guarantees from nuclear weapon states. Despite in-principle support to such zones, the nuclear powers, with the exception of China, have been highly selective in giving security guarantees to specific zones, with only two zones (Latin America and South Pacific) securing guarantees from most of the nuclear states. Nuclear weapon states are continuing to put their own military navigation, transit or deployment interests ahead of the non-proliferation benefits flowing from whole regions making binding agreements not to develop, acquire or possess nuclear weapons. New opportunities for nuclear-weapon-free zone establishment may be found in a return to multilateralist approaches with the advent of the US Obama Administration, current regional negotiations, and the role of middle level powers in mobilizing international support for nuclearweapon- free zone initiatives, including further conferences of nuclear-weapon-free zone member countries. Proposed steps forward include: nuclear weapon state reviews of the current non-proliferation benefits of nuclear-weapon-free zones; commissioning of a new UN Experts’ Study on nuclear-weapon-free zones; regional studies of the human, economic and climatic impact of nuclear war; and renewed regional nuclear-weapon-free zone efforts to establish new zones and strengthen existing zones.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1080/14781150903169042
Official URL
Subjects Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Education
Historical > FOR Classification > 1606 Political Science
Historical > SEO Classification > 9403 International Relations
Keywords ResPubID18316. non-proliferation, Central Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty, CANWFZ, nuclear-weapon-free zones, nuclear disarmament, Central Asia, NWFZ, regional denuclearization
Citations in Scopus 6 - View on Scopus
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