Amidst an unnerving environment of nuclear threats, leading Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) states parties met in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly First Committee to chart the course for implementation of the landmark Vienna Action Plan, adopted at the First Meeting of States Parties in June 2022.
The Coordinating Committee consists of the following members:
- Austria and Mexico as the Presidents of the previous and upcoming Meeting of States Parties;
- Mexico and New Zealand as co-chairs of the Article 4 informal working group;
- Kazakhstan and Kiribati as co-chairs of the Articles 6 and 7 informal working group on victim assistance, environmental remediation and international cooperation and assistance;
- Malaysia and South Africa as the co-chairs of the Article 12 working group on universalization;
- Ireland and Thailand as the facilitators of work to promote the complementarity of the TPNW with other treaties;
- Chile as the appointed Gender Focal Point; and
- the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) participate as observers.
The members of the coordination committee provided updates on the implementation work so far and shared the plans for upcoming informal working group meetings by the end of the year. Key progress reported included the following.
Malaysia and South Africa reported their work in coordination with ICAN to organize a TPNW signing ceremony on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly resulting in five new signatures and two new ratifications, as well as a meeting hosted by South Africa on the margins of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference with the African Group in coordination with AFCONE, the ICRC and ICAN about the TPNW.
Verification and Scientific Advice
As required by the Vienna Action Plan, states parties have submitted nominations for the Scientific Advisory Group that states decided to create at the First Meeting of States Parties. The group should be created soon and begin its work to advise states on the scientific and technical work of the treaty. This new body will contribute significantly to research and advice on nuclear disarmament verification and other key aspects of the treaty.
Victim Assistance and Environmental Remediation
Kazakhstan and Kiribati reported on their progress to advance the actions on victim assistance, environmental remediation and international cooperation and assistance. The first working group meeting was convened in October to plan out the work for the year ahead and was broadly inclusive and open to civil society and affected communities.
The NPT Review Conference also signified the ongoing work in this area including through the draft outcome document which in paragraph 125 welcomed, in general, increased attention to assisting communities and remediating environments affected by nuclear weapons use and testing, and called on states to engage with these efforts.
Ambassador Juan Manuel Gómez-Robledo delivers a statement to the 10th Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference on behalf of TPNW states parties. Photo: ICAN.
Ireland and Thailand reported on states parties’ progress to promote complementarity of the TPNW with other treaties during the NPT Review Conference – where states presented a joint statement condemning nuclear threats and expressing their commitment to nuclear disarmament.
Despite not being adopted at the NPT Review Conference, the same formulation about the TPNW was used in the annual Japanese UNGA resolution, showing how the TPNW is becoming integrated in the UN disarmament machinery as a complementing instrument.
The Vienna Action Plan’s language on gender significantly influenced and improved the discussion on gender and disarmament at the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference in August 2022.
For the first time in the NPT’s history, and echoing the Vienna Action Plan, the draft outcome document recognised the importance of the equal, full and meaningful participation and leadership of both women and men in the NPT’s implementation and review and noted States Parties’ call for the further integration of a gender perspective in all aspects related to implementation of the Treaty. In addition, a joint statement on gender, diversity and inclusion was presented to the NPT, including the TPNW’s gender focal point Chile, alongside a number of other TPNW states parties.
The Coordination Committee will continue to meet regularly, as will the informal working groups to ensure full implementation of the Vienna Action Plan. Especially in this time of uncertainty and nuclear risk, it is more important than ever that the international community rally behind the multilateral plan of action to achieve nuclear disarmament.