The new treaty banning nuclear weapons took collective steps towards nuclear abolition at its first meeting in Vienna (Austria) from 21 to 23 June. Some 75 governments and 100 international and civil society organisations, including a delegation from Pax Christi International with members from eight countries.
The TPNW’s First Meeting of States Parties took place after three days of preparatory meetings—a Nuclear Ban Forum with some 600 members of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons. None of the nine states with nuclear weapons took part in any of the meetings.
The 65 states of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) adopted an action plan to bring in more countries and shape the treaty’s work. The latter includes help for victims of nuclear tests and clean-up work at test sites.
With an eye to Russia’s war on Ukraine, the TPNW members condemned “any and all nuclear threats…irrespective of circumstances.”
A total of 86 states have signed the TPNW. Pax Christi met with delegates from ten countries to encourage more signatures and ratifications. Some are states in the Great Lakes region of Africa where PCI conducted a workshop on the treaty in the lead-up to Vienna.
The ban treaty’s debut showed how thoroughly global majorities reject nuclear arsenals. Some critiqued the nuclear order; others shared their hopes for a nuclear-weapon-free world. Here are some of their words:
“The nuclear powers use the apocalypse as if it were a bargaining chip.” (Fiji)
“There is widespread support for nuclear abolition on islands where life has obvious limits such as sea levels, radiation levels and environmental desecration.” (Trinidad and Tobago; 23 island states have already ratified the TPNW.)
“Our security depends on guaranteeing the security of others” (Pope Francis via Holy See)
“Supporters and skeptics of the TPNW can work shoulder-to-shoulder…. We fully share the goal of achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.” (Germany)
“Nuclear weapons are tools of domination in a time when we have to build human security together.” (World Council of Churches).
“Not having children is the biggest pain of my life, a loss no compensation can fix.” (Dimitri Vesulov, nuclear test survivor, Kazahkstan.
“A fraction of the money spent on nuclear and other arms could save millions of people from hunger and disease.” (Nepal)
“We are all hostage to the governments that have nuclear weapons.” (NGO, Kazahkstan)
“The most recent threats by Russia have turned the completely unthinkable into a troubling reality.” (Malta)
“People the world over have always wanted a nuclear ban treaty. The Mine Ban Treaty has shown how crucial the victim assistance it has can be.” (Cambodia)
“Israel refuses to adhere to even the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or submit its nuclear weapons to any international controls.” (Palestine)