The Republic of Guinea-Bissau deposited its instrument of ratification of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) on 15 December 2021.
«The ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons constitutes the last and important step towards the unequivocal affirmation of Guinea-Bissau's commitment to a world free of nuclear weapons. We stand together for the affirmation of international peace and for the future of humanity,” said Suzi Carla Barbosa, Minister of State, Foreign Affairs for International Cooperation and Communities of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau.
ICAN campaigners in West Africa welcomed Guinea-Bissau’s ratification as a positive development for the region. “Guinea-Bissau’s ratification is of great pride for West Africa; it is the manifestation of the strong ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] principled position on nuclear disarmament,” said Abdul Fatoma of the Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI), ICAN’s partner organisation in Sierra Leone. “Each new ratification of the Treaty in the region encourages other countries to join. We call on those who have not done so yet to ratify or accede to the Treaty at the earliest, to ensure that West Africa is well represented at the First Meeting of States Parties,” concurred Very Rev. Kolade Fadahunsi of the Kairos Foundation of Nigeria and Institute of Church and Society, ICAN’s partners in Nigeria.
Guinea-Bissau is the fourth West African country to ratify the TPNW, following Benin, the Gambia, and Nigeria. Another five ECOWAS countries have signed the TPNW, namely, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Niger, and Togo. At the continental level, nine other African countries have already joined the TPNW and 29 have signed it. These and several other countries in the region are working towards their adhesion to the Treaty.
In August 2019, ICAN held a Regional Forum for Member States of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Abuja, Nigeria, with the participation of representatives of West African countries including Guinea-Bissau, officials of the ECOWAS Parliament and Commission, as well as representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and civil society organizations. In a declaration, participants highlighted the strong support for the TPNW in the region and agreed to work toward signature and ratification of the Treaty. The ECOWAS Parliament and Commission have positively engaged in the TPNW.
Guinea-Bissau has supported the process towards the adoption and universalisation of the TPNW. In 2016, the country co-sponsored the UN General Assembly resolution that established the formal mandate for states to commence negotiations on “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”. Although it did not formally participate in the negotiation of the treaty at the United Nations in New York in 2017, Guinea-Bissau was among 122 states that voted in favour of its adoption. Guinea-Bissau signed the Treaty on 26 September 2018.