Egypt exits non-proliferation meeting

Palais des Nations UN Photo
By Jenny Nielsen, Research Analyst, Non-proliferation and Disarmament Programme

Egypt has walked out of talks on the Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) this week, over the slow progress on the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East (MEWMDFZ).

The unprecedented move presents a serious headache for the non-proliferation regime. Announcing his delegation’s withdrawal from the Preparatory Committee to the 2015 NPT Review Conference (2013 NPT PrepCom) on Monday, Egyptian Ambassador Hisham Badr warned that despite being a strong supporter of the NPT regime, Cairo was dissatisfied with the international community’s ‘lack of seriousness’ in establishing an MEWMDFZ and ‘very concerned about the ramification of the non-fulfilment of commitments on the credibility and sustainability of the NPT regime’.

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No peace to keep in Syria

Press conference Navanethem Pillay. UN Photo

By Brigadier Ben Barry, Senior Fellow for Land Warfare

In her short but outspoken briefing to the UN General Assembly this week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay (pictured) said the Security Council’s failure to ‘agree on firm collective action appears to have emboldened the Syrian Government to launch an all-out assault in an effort to crush dissent with overwhelming force’. She described the suffering and potential humanitarian crisis resulting from escalating regime attacks on Homs. Since the conflict began a year ago, she said, ‘crimes against humanity are likely to have been committed’.

The Arab League has now withdrawn its observer mission to Syria, and at a meeting in Cairo on Sunday passed a resolution asking the Security Council to authorise a joint UN–Arab peacekeeping mission. However, the resolution did not make clear whether that would involve armed troops; it could well be an unarmed observer mission.

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