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From Nuclear Dangers to Cooperative Security:
Parliamentarians and the Legal Imperative for Nuclear Disarmament
Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Colombia
Nov 7-9, 2003

Assassination attempt does not deter international parliamentarians' dialogue on strategies to address nuclear dangers.

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On November 7-9, 2003, parliamentarians from around the world gathered in Vancouver for the first international conference of the Parliamentary Network for Nuclear Disarmament. The goal of this event was to consider ways that parliamentarians can work collaboratively in order to address dangers arising from nuclear proliferation, as well as the increasingly-threatening policies and practices of the nuclear-weapon States.

The conference opened with the unnerving news that one of its would-be participants, Israeli Member of Parliament Issam Makhoul, had been the target of an assassination attempt only two days earlier.   It was suspected that the assassination attempt arose in reaction to Mr Makhoul's criticism of government policies on security issues, including Israel's secrecy over their nuclear weapons program. Fortunately, Mr. Makhoul, along with his family, survived when the bomb planted under their car was detonated.

The assassination attempt did not deter a very positive dialogue amongst parliamentarians from around the globe, including from some of the other proliferation 'hot-spots' such as South Asia and Korea, from the nuclear-weapon States and their allies, and from key countries working for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament such as the members of the New Agenda Coalition.

A key focus of the event was on the comprehensive nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament program proposed at the United Nations General Assembly and the Non-Proliferation Treaty meetings by the New Agenda Coalition, an international coalition of governments including Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, Aotearoa-New Zealand, South Africa and Sweden.

Participants at the conference also considered proposals to:

•  create a nuclear weapon free zone in North East Asia

•  link existing nuclear weapon free zones into a Southern Hemisphere and Adjacent Areas Nuclear Weapon Free Zone

•  begin preparatory work on an international treaty to eliminate nuclear weapons

•  collaborate with a new coalition of Mayors for Peace

•  criminalize the threat or use of nuclear weapons through domestic legislation

•  implement the World Court's decision on the illegality of nuclear weapons through direct action at nuclear weapons facilities

The International Parliamentary Conference, entitled "From Nuclear Dangers to Cooperative Security" was made possible in part through the generous support of its co-covenor, the Simons Foundation.