NPT PrepCom failure underscores importance of TPNW 2MSP

The unfortunate paralysis of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty’s 2023 Preparatory Committee demonstrated the importance of the upcoming 2nd Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in November to make progress towards nuclear disarmament.

The two-week meeting in Vienna concluded without adoption of a factual summary agreed to by all states parties, and the chair was even prevented from issuing the summary in his own capacity as a working paper. The draft summary document stated that “​​The States parties that are also parties or signatories to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons emphasised that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons represented an effective measure to implement article VI and was complementary to the Treaty on the NonProliferation of Nuclear Weapons.” The document also stated that “States parties reiterated their concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and reaffirmed the need for all States at all times to comply with applicable international law, including international humanitarian law” and that “States Parties were urged to consider providing assistance, including the sharing of technical and scientific information and financial assistance, upon request, to States affected by the use and testing of nuclear weapons for the purposes of victim assistance and environmental remediation.”

Throughout the conference, TPNW states parties engaged actively and constructively, including through a joint statement delivered by Mexico, noting that: “This is the first time that NPT States Parties will engage in a full review cycle at the same time as we have a Treaty in place that explicitly and comprehensively prohibits nuclear weapons at international law. We hope that the TPNW’s rejection of nuclear weapons and its support for international humanitarian law will positively influence the discussions towards the effective implementation of the NPT.” For a full account of the Preparatory Committee, see the NPT News in Review produced by Reaching Critical Will.

ICAN, Ireland, Thailand and AFCONE co-hosted a side event on the complementarity of the TPNW with the NPT.

ICAN staff and partners also participated at the NPT PrepCom, coordinating a civil society statement delivered to the conference, organising and speaking at side events, engaging with governments and commemorating the 78th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima in Vienna. ICAN campaigner Elisabeth Saar, from Germany, delivered ICAN’s statement to the conference focusing on nuclear sharing practices. Together with Ireland and Thailand, the TPNW’s complementarity co-facilitators, and AFCONE, ICAN hosted a side event about the complementarity of the TPNW with the NPT, as well as the contributions of other instruments, including nuclear-weapon-free zones and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, to the NPT. The event’s seven speakers represented member states or implementing bodies of nearly every nuclear-weapon-free zone, as well as the CTBT and an expert on the process to establish a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East. And drawing a crowd in the heart of Vienna, ICAN Austria organised a full event on Sunday, 6 August to mark the 78th anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima.

The failure of NPT meetings to make progress makes clear that the TPNW has a critical role to play as the international community's best hope for a serious and functioning fora to address nuclear weapons risks and advance disarmament. All states should attend and actively engage in this important gathering from 27 November - 1 December 2023.