In a historic move, the assembly of French Polynesia unanimously adopted a resolution on September 28th, supporting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), highlighting the region's history as the site of numerous French nuclear tests between 1966 and 1996. The resolution, led by representative Hinamoeura Morgant-Cross, emphasizes the TPNW as a humanitarian disarmament treaty and calls upon the French government to join it. This powerful call for justice and international recognition for the lasting effects of nuclear tests underscores French Polynesia's commitment to nuclear disarmament and its poignant plea for nuclear justice.
On September 28th, in Papeetē, the assembly of French Polynesia unanimously endorsed a resolution in support of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). This significant political action recognizes the emerging international legal norm, currently rejected by the French government, and conveys a powerful message from a territory that endured 193 nuclear tests conducted by France between 1966 and 1996.
The resolution, led by representative Hinamoeura Morgant-Cross from Tavini Huiraatira, underscores the TPNW as a humanitarian disarmament treaty. It emphasizes the deep concerns of the French Polynesian population regarding this issue. While French Polynesia cannot currently access the assistance and rehabilitation outlined in Articles 6 and 7 of the TPNW due to France's non-ratification, it sends a resounding message in favor of the treaty to Paris.
Hinamoeura Morgant-Cross comments: "I would like to say that recognition of the real impact of nuclear weapons is my life’s struggle and it is very important to me that my first resolution as a representative of the Assembly of French Polynesia concerns support for TPNW and it was precisely at the first Meeting of States Parties to the TPNW last year that I decided to enter politics".
This resolution adopts a proactive approach by urging President Macron to facilitate France's participation as an observer state in the upcoming TPNW States Parties meetings, scheduled for November 27th to December 1st, 2023, at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Additionally, it calls for efforts towards France's full adherence to this international norm.
France's accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in August 1992 was a notable step in this direction. However, to bolster nuclear weapons protection and create a legally binding instrument for their absolute prohibition, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) on July 7, 2017, with the support of 122 states. Despite this treaty entering into force on January 22, 2021, France has not yet ratified it, a matter of particular concern for French Polynesia, given the references to Articles 6 and 7.
These articles mandate assistance to nuclear weapon victims and the rehabilitation of contaminated areas. As a territory hosting the French nuclear testing center and enduring ongoing consequences of nuclear fallout, French Polynesia is directly impacted by the TPNW. Therefore, the resolution calls on President Macron to take tangible steps: firstly, to advocate for France's observer status at TPNW States Parties meetings, and secondly, to actively work towards France's full compliance with this new international standard.
French Polynesia's endorsement of the TPNW underscores the paramount importance of nuclear disarmament for global security and environmental preservation while urging France's commitment to this vital cause.
The decision by the Polynesian assembly follows the fantastic work of our partner organisations, namely ICAN France. Their work has also led to an overall growth of support for the TPNW in France. 76 cities and communes have signed the ICAN Cities Appeal, including Paris, Bordeaux, Lyon and Montpellier. Further, a coalition of 59 Parliamentarians and Senators call upon the French government to constructively engage with the treaty by observing the meetings of states parties.
Jean-Marie Collin, Director of ICAN France: "The adoption of this resolution is highly symbolic and sends a strong message from a region that knows first hand about nuclear horror. After the appeal from 76 French cities, the Bourgogne Franche-Comté region and the Greater Lyon metropolitan area, this new political act must not be ignored by the President and his government. If it wants to call itself a responsible State, France must participate as an Observer State in the next meeting of states parties to the TPNW".
Picture source: Website of the Assemblée de la Polynésie Francaise (29. September 2023)