HANDBOOK

This section is based on the publication Move the Nuclear Weapons Money: A Handbook for civil society and legislators published by IPB, PNND and WFC.

2. The role of legislators

Legislators are the bridge between civil society and government. They serve as the elected (or appointed) representatives of the general population, invested with responsibility to set policy, adopt legislation and decide on budgets for public expenditure.

In some countries, where there is a deficit of democracy or a prevalence of corruption, this mandate is curtailed or subverted to some degree. But it is never lost entirely. Indeed, even in corrupt countries, legislators are prone to public scrutiny and require public support for re-election. As such, the best opportunity civil society has to impact on nuclear weapons budget issues is to work with, and influence, legislators.

The role legislators can play differs to some degree depending on the legislatures in which they serve.

Those in nuclear-armed countries can have direct input into decision-making on the nuclear weapons budgets. Those in nuclear-sharing countries might also have a role in budget decisions relating to the deployment of nuclear weapons on their territories.

Those in non-nuclear States can address policy or legislation on investments in nuclear weapons corporations – most of which are public companies. This can include prohibiting such investments by public funds or financial institutions, or even more comprehensive prohibitions on any investments in nuclear weapons corporations.

Legislators can also give more general support to the global promotion of disarmament for development (and non-investment in nuclear weapons corporations) at the United Nations, in inter-parliamentary bodies such as the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and in international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

Legislatures appropriate funds, hold officials accountable, debate policy, undertake investigations, ratify treaties, adopt implementing legislation, represent voices of public opinion, and some also work with legislatures in other countries, either directly or indirectly though organizations like the Inter-Parliamentary Union, or Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament.

Parliaments help to give disarmament not only vision, but also some backbone, muscle, and teeth. Sergio Duarte

UN High Representative for Disarmament (2007 – 2012)

HANDBOOK

This section is based on the publication Move the Nuclear Weapons Money: A Handbook for civil society and legislators published by IPB, PNND and WFC.