Second Meeting of States Parties to the TPNW opens with focus on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons

The Second Meeting of States Parties to the TPNW began on Monday at the UN in New York. This week, delegates will take stock of progress under the treaty and discuss and decide next steps to further strengthen the treaty.

The opening session of the Second Meeting of States Parties to the TPNW opened with addresses by the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, on behalf of the UN Secretary-General, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Melissa Parke. Ms. Parke highlighted the impact of the treaty so far, stating:

Like other weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons are now internationally banned. And that in itself is a great stride forward. Our treaty has been in force for less than three years, but already it is having a demonstrable impact.

Read her full statement here. The delegates also heard from Sueichi Kido, Secretary General of Nihon Hidankyo and survivor of the bombing of Nagasaki, who represented survivors of nuclear weapon explosions.

The meeting continued on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning with an interactive thematic discussion on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, with panels covering why the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons is the basis for prohibition, and exploring areas of opportunity for new research and innovative policies. Karina Lester spoke on the panel on Tuesday morning, presenting her expertise as a second generation nuclear test survivor from Australia.

More than sixty states spoke as part of the General Debate - expressing their support for the TPNW, their concern about rising nuclear weapons risks and the devastating humanitarian and environmental consequences of nuclear weapons and challenging the misguided and outdated theory of deterrence.

Austria spelled it out clearly:

The assumed security benefits of nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence do not hold up against this new evidence and that a collective paradigm shift away from nuclear weapons is urgently needed.

Many also welcomed the Treaty’s Vienna Action Plan - and the work to implement it, including the new countries to have joined the Treaty since the First Meeting of States Parties.

Civil society also spoke to the UN meeting. A joint statement endorsed by 26 nuclear affected community-led organisations, and supported by a further 45 allied organisations, was delivered by Benetick Maddison, who declared:

We are people bound together by what nuclear weapons have inflicted. Our lives, our lands, our waters, and our communities were permanently changed by the development, testing and use of nuclear weapons. Our struggles against radioactive violence have continued for many decades, throughout the generations. We have the right and responsibility to speak about what nuclear weapons really do… We call on States Parties to the TPNW to push relentlessly for its universalisation.

A delegation of 23 parliamentarians from 14 countries also addressed the conference in a joint statement delivered by Guillaume Defossé (Belgian parliament) to express their resolute determination to universalise the TPNW.

States will continue the debate to discuss in greater detail the implementation of the Treaty - with reports on work on nuclear disarmament verification, victim assistance and environmental remediation and universalising the Treaty, amongst other topics in the days to come.