The First Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will take place in Vienna, Austria from 21 to 23 June 2022. Originally scheduled for January 2022, this meeting was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2017 the United Nations convened a conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination. The conference took place from 27 to 31 March and from 15 June to 7 July in New York.
On 7 July 2017, participating States adopted a landmark global agreement to ban nuclear weapons, known officially as the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW or Treaty). A total of 122 States voted in favour of the TPNW, with one opposing and another abstaining. Regrettably the Turnbull Liberal/National Party government decided against participating in this historic conference.
The TPNW opened for signature on 20 September 2017. Following the deposit with the Secretary-General of the 50th instrument of ratification or accession of the Treaty on 24 October 2020, it entered into force on 22 January 2021.
By May 2022, there were 86 signatories and 61 States parties to the TPNW. These can be viewed here.
Under the TPNW, States parties cannot:
- Develop, test or manufacture nuclear weapons;
- Possess or stockpile nuclear weapons;
- Use or threaten to use nuclear weapons;
- Transfer or receive control of nuclear weapons;
- Assist, encourage, or induce anyone to engage in any activity prohibited under the treaty;
- Allow any nuclear weapons on its territory.
In addition, under the Treaty, all States parties must:
- Provide assistance to victims of use or testing;
- Remediate contaminated environments;
- Eliminate nuclear weapons programs;
- Remove foreign nuclear weapons from their territory.
First Meeting of States Parties
TheFirst Meeting of States Parties to the TPNW will take place at the Austria Centre in Vienna from 21 to 23 June 2022.
At this inaugural meeting, States parties will discuss actions required to implement obligations under the Treaty, including actions aimed at assisting victims of nuclear weapon use and testing, remediating contaminated environments and universalising the Treaty. The meeting will also offer the opportunity for States to discuss some technical details, such as setting a deadline for the elimination of nuclear weapons for nuclear-armed States that join the Treaty.
Coinciding with the First Meeting of States Parties, an international Conference on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons will be hosted by Austria on 20 June 2022.
In addition, the International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) will host a two day Nuclear Ban Forum from 18 to 19 June in Vienna and online. This forum will provide an opportunity for experienced and new campaigners to discuss and strengthen the disarmament community’s capacity to help advance the cause of prohibiting and ultimately eliminating nuclear weapons. Speakers at the forum will include prominent authors, physicists, legal experts, political scientists, sociologists and economists. Go here to register in person or online for the Nuclear Ban Forum.
Election of a Labor Government
The election of the Albanese Labor Government on 21 May 2022 promises to open up a new era in Australia’s approach to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. While the previous Liberal/National Party governments shunned the TPNW, the Australian Labor Party has committed to signing and ratifying it in government.
The Albanese Labor Government needs to initiate the signing of the Treaty when the new parliament commences in July this year, with ratification to follow as soon as possible afterwards.
The Labor Government should also immediately announce its intention to send observers to both the Conference on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons, as well as the First Meeting of States Parties to be held in Vienna.
Read more about the Nulear Ban Forum (18-19 June), as well as the Conference on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons (20 June) and the First Meeting of States Parties of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (21-23 June) via vienna.icanw.org.
A briefing paper by Physicians for the Prevention of War entitled ‘The catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons and nuclear war: summary of the evidence and new research findings’, 2 May 2022, can be read here. This briefing paper has been submitted to the First Meeting of States Parties of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.