Watch on global weaponry
Article 36. It sounds like the title of a sci-fi movie along the lines of, say District 9, or a page-turning multi-layered spy thriller. It has a far deeper real world significance than that.
Article 36 is a not-for-profit organisation working to prevent the unintended, unnecessary or unacceptable harm to civilians caused by modern weaponry, taking its name from Article 36 of the Geneva Convention.
It’s an organisation directed by ex-pat Palmy-naut, Thomas Nash. He’s back in the country for a visit ‘home’.
‘‘The development and deployment of weapons is shrouded in secrecy with very little public scrutiny,’’ Thomas says.
Article 36 is to help provide a greater level of international overview by focusing public attention on these areas, leading to greater possibilities of curtailment and restraint.
‘‘We work in three areas. The first is to address the bombing or bombardment of civilian dwellings – as in Gaza, Syria, Yemen and the Ukraine. We’re saying that there shouldn’t be a sense of inevitability that in conflict, towns get reduced to rubble.
‘‘[Dealing with] explosive weapons in populated areas... is a tough area, but we have a responsibility to address it.’’
The second is the decades old problem of nuclear weapons, where New Zealand has a good reputation. Thomas says the approach is to get countries to view nukes as weapons that have horrendous impacts on people and the environment, rather than as symbols of power, prestige and identity.
New Zealand has not yet signed an anti-nuclear pledge drawn up by Austria, although 114 other countries have signed up.
The third is dealing with the future threat of autonomous weapons systems.
‘‘There’s a real concern about the next generation of drones that will be able to detect, select and fire without any human being involved. The technology is not a million miles away.
‘‘Automatic target recognition systems are being tested now . . . These systems challenge the whole notion of humanity,’’ Thomas says.
Thomas Nash outside Freyberg High School where his taste for international relations and weapons control was confirmed.