Overcoming the NPT’s “institutional deficit”: A Canadian saga

Abstract

Ever since the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was indefinitely extended in 1995, Canada has promoted the concept of “permanence with accountability.” Canada led on an ambitious initiative to enhance accountability via a reform package to overcome the NPT’s “institutional deficit.” Launched prior to the failed 2005 Review Conference, the effort was sustained for a decade. The priority goals were to establish annual meetings of states parties; to create a standing body of past, present, and future chairs; and to provide for the convening of extraordinary meetings. These ideas attracted support, but also opposition, from quarters less interested in having more effective tools of accountability put into place. The history of this initiative sheds light on the dynamics of multilateral diplomacy in the nuclear realm and on weaknesses in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty process that continue to threaten the authority of the treaty.

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