By Jaya Ramachandran
GENEVA (IDN) –Seventy countries have signed and 23 ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) since it was opened for signature at the UN headquarters in New York on September 20, 2017, nearly two-and-a-half months after it was adopted by 122 states. The Treaty will enter into legal force 90 days after 50 nations have signed and ratified it.
The TPNW was adopted in the wake of a decade of advocacy by ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, and its partners around the world.
For these relentless efforts, ICAN was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2017. ICAN and its partners continue to campaign for at least additional 28 ratifications as a first mandatory step toward swift entry into force of the TPNW.
To expedite the process, a high-level ceremony will take place in New York on September 26, 2019 for further signatures and ratifications of the Treaty, on the occasion of the UN International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. The UN High Level Political Forum on the SDGs, to be held in New York on July 9-18, 2019, and the three-day ministerial meeting in particular, is as another opportunity to sign or ratify the Treaty.
Its supporters argue that prior to the Treaty’s adoption, nuclear weapons were the only weapons of mass destruction not subject to a comprehensive ban, despite their catastrophic, widespread and persistent humanitarian and environmental consequences. The new agreement fills a significant gap in international law.
Against this backdrop, ICAN joined hands with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Guyana to convene in Georgetown the Caribbean Regional Forum to discuss the TPNW, to take stock of the Treaty from a regional perspective, to assess its prospects for advancing nuclear disarmament, global security and humanitarian norms, and to canvass progress toward its entry into force.
The meeting brought together experts from member-states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) comprising Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St-Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St-Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.
The Caribbean Forum took place at a time of heightened risks of use of nuclear weapons – the highest since the Cold War. Indeed, rising tensions, the modernization of nuclear arsenals, the continued reliance on nuclear weapons in military doctrines and security concepts as well as on high alert postures, and threats regarding the possible use of nuclear weapons are widely seen as increasing the risk of a deliberate or accidental nuclear detonation, noted the ‘Georgetown Statement’ on June 20, 2019.
Meanwhile, the slow pace of progress toward a nuclear weapon-free world, the continued lack of implementation of nuclear disarmament obligation, notably Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and other agreed steps and actions on nuclear disarmament remain a cause of concern in the region and globally, the Statement warned.
Member States of CARICOM have always been a strong proponent of multilateralism, with a progressive approach to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and have long advocated for a holistic approach to addressing matters of peace and security, recognizing fully the intrinsic link between peace, security and development.
The Georgetown Statement re-emphasized that there cannot be development without peace, while peace is the precondition to development. Based on their principled position, CARICOM was very active in the ‘Humanitarian Initiative on Nuclear Weapons’ and was the first region to equate humanitarian consequences with the need for a prohibition treaty.
Caribbean States continued to be a leading voice in the negotiating process which resulted in the adoption of the Treaty.
“The TPNW was recognized as a historic achievement, to which countries of the region contributed,” the Statement noted. The CARICOM member states were among the first to sign and ratify the Treaty. To date, two CARICOM Member States have ratified the TPNW (Guyana and Saint-Lucia), and three others have signed it (Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines).
Participants in the Forum acknowledged the important role the region has to play by joining the Treaty and contribute to its early entry into force and universal adherence.
No CARICOM State possesses nuclear weapons or claims to be protected by the nuclear weapons of an ally, meaning that all CARICOM States are in full compliance with the prohibitions contained in Article 1 of the TPNW, which states:
“Each State Party undertakes never under any circumstances to:
(a) Develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices;
(b) Transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices directly or indirectly;
(c) Receive the transfer of or control over nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices directly or indirectly;
(d) Use or threaten to use nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices;
(e) Assist, encourage or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Treaty;
(f) Seek or receive any assistance, in any way, from anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Treaty;
(g) Allow any stationing, installation or deployment of any nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices in its territory or at any place under its jurisdiction or control.
The Georgetown Statement noted that the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Tlatelolco Treaty) of 1967, which establishes Latin America and the Caribbean as an internationally recognized nuclear-weapon-free zone, contains similar prohibitions to those contained in the TPNW.
Thus, signature and ratification of the TPNW by any State party to the Treaty of Tlatelolco should not present any challenges in terms of national implementation. The TPNW aims to transform the regional norm against the possession of nuclear weapons into a global norm.
Participants observed that the TPNW is fully compatible with and complementary to the 1968 NPT and acknowledged the value of the TPNW’s unambiguous prohibition of nuclear weapons to advance disarmament and reduce the incentive for proliferation.
The Statement further stated that the TPNW, and efforts to advance nuclear disarmament, support progress in attainment of the UN’s 2030 Development Agenda, including 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets. “The current expenditure on nuclear weapons by nuclear-armed states – approximately US$2 trillion over the coming decades – reduces funding for development and achievement of the SDGs,” argued the Statement. [IDN-InDepthNews – 30 June 2019]
Photo: Caribbean Experts with Nobel Peace Prize 2017 representatives. Credit: ICAN
IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.
facebook.com/IDN.GoingDeeper – twitter.com/InDepthNews