Norway last week became the first Nato state -- and first nuclear weapon complicit state -- to commit to participating at the First Meeting of States Parties of the TPNW. The commitment was included in the government’s coalition agreement, released on 13 October. The move by Norway breaks the hard line against the TPNW that Nato had sought to exert on its member states, and opens the doors for others in the alliance to follow suit.
A return to Norway’s leadership on nuclear disarmament?
Norway’s elections in September led to a change of government, with Jonas Gahr Støre of the Labour Party elected as Prime Minister. Gahr Støre is well-known to advocates of nuclear disarmament, having been supportive as foreign minister of Norway of the “humanitarian initiative” process which led to the negotiations of the TPNW.
“That Norway as the first Nato country confirms that it will participate as an observer at the nuclear weapons ban treaty’s first meeting of states parties sends an important signal to our allies that nuclear weapons are unacceptable,” says Tuva Widskjold, coordiNator for ICAN Partner ICAN Norway.
“We expect the government to soon initiate measures to facilitate Norwegian support for the nuclear weapons ban, and initiate diplomatic talks with other Nato countries on how they can join the nuclear weapons ban together,” says Lars Egeland, Deputy Chairman of ICAN Partner No to Nuclear Weapons.
The government’s platform also says that it will increase Norway's efforts for nuclear disarmament, take the initiative to focus on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and work together with countries inside and outside Nato for a world without nuclear weapons.
What will Norway’s move mean for other Nato states?
Norway has reportedly already come under pressure from the United States for its decision to attend the TPNW’s Meeting of States Parties. The previous government had flatly refused to observe the first Meeting of States Parties, which will take place at the UN in Vienna on 22-24 March 2022.
“We are very happy that there will now be Norwegian participation at the MSP. This will attract international attention. We consider it likely that other Nato countries, such as Germany and Belgium, will follow Norway and participate as observers. In the long run, this could have great significance for the treaty,” says Secretary General Henriette Westhrin of ICAN Partner Norwegian People's Aid.