Chile became the 56th country to ratify the landmark Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) on 23 September 2021. As leaders from around the world gathered in New York for the annual high-level opening of the UN General Assembly, the Chilean foreign minister, Andrés Allamand, deposited his country’s instrument of ratification with the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel, Miguel de Serpa Soares.
Allamand described the TPNW’s entry into force earlier this year as “one of the most important milestones on our path towards global and complete disarmament”.
The Latin America Human Security Network (SEHLAC), which serves on ICAN’s international steering group, hailed Chile’s ratification as a great step forward. “With this step, Chile joins the group of countries that have formalised their firm conviction that any use of nuclear weapons is unacceptable,” said Pamela Velásquez Guzmán, SEHLAC’s representative in Chile. “I want to congratulate the commitment of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the parliamentarians, and the civil society that made this achievement possible.”
The Chamber of Deputies of the National Congress of Chile approved ratification of the TPNW on 24 June and the Senate approved it on 24 August.
Chile played an important role in the negotiation of the TPNW in 2017 and was among the first countries to sign the treaty. In its opening statement to the negotiating conference, Chile said that the treaty-making process had come about as a result of the determined efforts of civil society and “a coalition of peace-loving states that do not want to remain indifferent to the humanitarian consequences of a possible use of nuclear weapons”. It celebrated the treaty’s adoption by 122 countries as “an historic moment”.
It believes that the TPNW “opens a promising path in the common goal of a planet free of nuclear weapons, strengthening and complementing the current legal architecture in this field”.
Chile has consistently promoted universal adherence to the TPNW, including by co-sponsoring and voting in favour of an annual UN General Assembly resolution since 2018 that calls upon all states to sign, ratify, or accede to the treaty “at the earliest possible date”.
With Chile’s ratification, 13 countries in Latin America have now ratified the TPNW: Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela. In addition, Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Peru have signed the treaty and are working towards ratifying it. Argentina is the only Latin American country yet to take steps towards joining the TPNW, although it signalled its general support for the treaty in 2017.
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