São Tomé and Príncipe has become the first new state party to the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) in 2024. At UN Headquarters in New York on 15 January, the Minister of Justice of São Tomé and Príncipe, H.E. IIza Amado Vaz, deposited the instrument of ratification for this landmark treaty on behalf of the government, bringing the total number of states parties to 70.
Minister of Justice of São Tomé and Príncipe, H.E. IIza Amado Vaz with David Nanopoulos, Chief of the Treaty Section at United Nations, and ICAN’s United Nations liaison, Seth Shelden, during the ratification ceremony. Photo: ICAN | Alcinio Cravid e Silva
The National Assembly of São Tomé and Príncipe unanimously approved ratification of the TPNW on 16 November 2023.
São Tomé and Príncipe’s ratification comes shortly after states parties to the TPNW renewed a “call for all States that have not yet done so to sign and ratify or accede to the Treaty without delay”, and reiterated their commitment to pursue universalisation of the Treaty as a priority, in a declaration issued at the second meeting of states parties of the treaty in New York in December 2023.
Upon depositing São Tomé and Príncipe’s ratification, Her Excellency Ilza Amado Vaz said: “We will do our best to participate actively in the process of this Treaty and everything to bring States to protect human rights and the rights of children, of youth and women."
ICAN’s Executive Director, Melissa Parke, welcomed the move: “It’s great news that Sao Tome and Principe has ratified the Treaty, which means it now has 70 states parties. As more and more countries join the TPNW they strengthen the new international norm it has created that makes nuclear weapons unacceptable. These are the responsible states in the international community on this issue, and we look forward to more ratifications and signatures in the year ahead.”
A total of 93 countries have signed the TPNW and 70 have ratified or acceded to it. In Africa, there are now 16 states parties and a further 17 signatories. The TPNW complements and reinforces the 1996 Treaty of Pelindaba, which established Africa as a nuclear-weapon-free zone. The states parties to the Treaty of Pelindaba have called upon all African Union member states “to speedily sign and ratify the [TPNW]”.
In January 2023, São Tomé and Príncipe was among the 37 African states that met in Pretoria, South Africa, for the African Regional Seminar on the Universalisation of the TPNW to promote adherence to the treaty by every African state as soon as possible.
Support for the TPNW
São Tomé and Príncipe was among the first countries to sign the TPNW at a high-level ceremony in New York when it opened for signature on 20 September 2017. Since then, it has promoted universal adherence to the TPNW, including by consistently voting in favour of an annual UN General Assembly resolution since 2018 that calls upon all states to sign and ratify the treaty “at the earliest possible date”.
São Tomé and Príncipe participated in the negotiation of the TPNW at the United Nations in New York in 2017 and was among 122 states that voted in favour of its adoption.