Bombs will bring no peace




    More than 150 activists and scholars from 14  countries of South Asia, Southeast Asia, East  Asia, and North America met in Dhaka, Bangladesh on February 18–20, 2000, in the first regional nuclear disarmament conference to be held after India and Pakistan conducted their tests in May 1998. The Conference was organized by Focus on the Global South (Bangkok and Mumbai) and the Community Development Library (Dhaka).

    The Dhaka Declaration ( issued by the Conference stated in part: "By conducting nuclear tests in 1998, embracing the doctrine of deterrence, and undertaking the development of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems, India and Pakistan have gravely endangered their own and the region’s security and set back the global nuclear disarmament agenda. This nuclearisation imitates hegemonic states whose nuclear weapons represent the gravest danger to global security. It is imperative that India and Pakistan cease all activity pertaining to the development, manufacture, induction or deployment of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. They must immediately dismantle these programmes and sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and other restraint measures as steps towards nuclear disarmament, and as part of their return to the global disarmament agenda.

    Nuclearisation has escalated mutual suspicion and hostility between India and Pakistan, as witnessed in the Kargil conflict. It has strengthened communal, militarist, authoritarian and centralising political tendencies within the two countries. The rapidly worsening security environment cannot be redressed by standard confidence–building and crisis–defusing measures.

    That is why the Conference calls for an immediate freezing and dismantling of the Indian and Pakistani nuclear and missile programmes. India’s and Pakistan’s nuclearisation has undermined regional cooperation and sabotaged SAARC  (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation). This must be immediately reversed. Meanwhile, the Conference calls upon the other members of SAARC to pressure India and Pakistan to enter into an effective dialogue for peace and security in the region.

    The Plan of Action ( adopted by the Conference specified the elements of a freeze of the Indian and Pakistani programs, calling for: (a) No assembly of weapons; (b) No mating of weapons with delivery systems; (c) No deployment, no induction of nuclear weapons; (d) No further testing of nuclear weapons; (e) No further missile tests or acquisition of delivery aircraft; (f) Freeze on further production (military or civilian) of weapons useable fissile materials; (g) Public accountability regarding veracity and efficacy of the freeze".

    While not making regional measures contingent upon progress in global nuclear disarmament, in the Declaration the Conference called for the Permanent Five nuclear weapon states (United States, Russia, China, France, United Kingdom) to honour their disarmament obligations under the Nuclear Non–Proliferation Treaty and the 1996 opinion of the International Court of Justice. The Declaration stated that the Permanent Five must "ratify and live up to the spirit of the CTBT by closing down their test sites and halting development of new weapons designs," and take further steps including de–alerting of nuclear forces, halting moves towards deployment of ballistic missile defence systems, bilateral reductions between the United States and Russia, and working towards a convention to abolish nuclear weapons. The Plan of Action called for South Asian activists to support global nuclear disarmament, and in that context to work towards a South Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone.

    The Plan of Action called for the launching of a "South Asian Peace Coalition as a broad base alliance," and for linking the South Asian movement with anti–nuclear and peace movements and other like–minded civil groups of nuclear states.

    The Plan of Action provided: "A Council with the present delegates should be set up to review work done and plan future activities every two years. This Council must elect/select a smaller group consisting of 10–15 steering members who would be accountable to the larger body. Focus on the Global South will be the interim secretariat till the Council congregates again."

    Contact information: Focus on the Global South (FOCUS) c/o CUSRI, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok 10330 Thailand; e-mail:; tel: (66 2) 218 7363/7364/7365; mfax: (66 2) 255 9976

    Archived from Communalism Combat, March 2000, Year 7  No. 57, Breaking Barriers 1