For nearly a month beginning in late April, representatives of 161 nations and hundreds of nongovernmental organizations -including myself- endured an intense, mind-numbing conference of heady interaction about the ultimate life and death issue regarding out planet. This marathon of misery, held at the United Nations headquarters in New York, was the 2015 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, or NPT, for short.
The 2015 NPT Review Conference was part of a five-yearly review process that has gone on within the NPT since the first review conference in 1975. The review process consists of three, two-week "preparatory committee" meetings at United Nations venues in Vienna, Geneva and New York, followed by a review conference. There is a "gap year" immediately after the review conference.
The schedule, in particular at a review conference, is punishing: early morning caucuses followed by government briefings, and then the formal main session, paralleled by "side panels" -all at once- giving participants the feeling that they must master Krishna’s ability to multiply and be in many places at once. There is intense social interaction, too, often during diplomatic receptions at which both diplomats and representatives of nongovernmental organizations can mingle and "cross-fertilize." This makes for late nights, on top of jet lag.
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