Update on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

The International Campaign to Abolish Weapons (ICAN) gathered in New York in late November for  the Second Meeting of States Parties to discuss the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). Over 65 events on the margins of the meeting were also held, highlighting the art and stories of nuclear disarmament groups, Hibakusha survivors of the atomic bomb in Japan, youth voices, and voices from humanitarian efforts.  

Over 94 countries participated in conversation around the TPNW, including opposing nuclear deterrence as a strategy for peace, lifting up new research to predict likely effects of nuclear detonations, and highlighting testimonies from communities impacted by the testing, use, and development of nuclear weapons. (Source) 

What is TPNW? 

 The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) was undertaken in 2017 by UN-mandated negotiations between over a hundred non-nuclear weapon states and a number of non-governmental organizations to prohibit States Parties from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, acquiring, possessing, stockpiling, transferring, or receiving control over nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. 

The treaty also prohibits States Parties – countries who have signed the treaty – from using, or threatening to use such weapons. “States Parties are also required to prohibit and prevent the stationing, installation, or deployment of nuclear weapons on their territory or any other place under its jurisdiction or control. This latter provision has implications for those countries which have US nuclear weapons based on their territories: Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.” 

While the treaty opened for signatures in 2017, it wasn’t ratified until 2021 because “several countries, including all of the nuclear weapon states, boycotted the talks.” The first meeting of States Parties to the TPNW was initiated in 2022 to further discussions around the call to outlaw nuclear weapons. (Source) 

What can this treaty achieve? 

Almost 50% of the nations in the world have signed and accepted the legal implications of the treaty, 70% of the nations have voted or voiced their support, but it is the major nuclear holders that oppose this binding document. (Source)

“Many critics have questioned what such a treaty will achieve if the nine nuclear states do not participate. Without signing and ratifying the treaty the nuclear states are not legally bound by its provisions and they are under no obligation to disarm. Consequently there are fears that the treaty will merely be symbolic and play no useful role in nuclear disarmament.  

Advocates of the treaty argue, however, that it establishes an international norm which will, in the longer term, pressure the nuclear states, and their allies, to alter their perceptions and behavior.” (Source) 

In conclusion 

After the event, ICAN stated, “The treaty was born out of the deep concern of the world's governments at the growing threat that nuclear weapons pose to human survival, the environment, socioeconomic development, the global economy, food security, and the health and welfare of current and future generations. They resolved to work together to challenge the dangerous status quo- and to bring the era of nuclear weapons to a permanent end.” (Source)



ICAN event update https://www.icanw.org/tpnw_2msp_conclusion 

TPNW research briefing https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-7986/ 

Second Meeting event information https://www.icanw.org/tpnw_second_meeting_of_states_parties 

TPNW national support map https://banmonitor.org/tpnw-status 

How the TPNW works https://www.icanw.org/how_the_tpnw_works