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Hiroshima for Global Peace

Hiroshima Report 2023(4) Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)

A) Signature and Ratifications

The number of countries  signing and/or ratif ying the TPNW which was adopted on September 20, 2017, has steadily increased. As the number of ratifying countries reached 50 on October 24, 2020, the TPNW enterentered into force on January 22, 2021, in accordance with Article 15 of the treaty.
As of the end of 2021 , 68 countries have ratified among the 91 signatories. Among the countries surveyed, those that have ratified are Austria, Kazakhstan, Mexico, New Zealand and South Africa, and those that have only signed are Brazil and Indonesia.


B) Meeting of States Parties

The TPNW stipulates that “ The first meeting of States Parties shall be convened by the Secretary-General of the United Nations within one year of the entry into force of this Treaty.” Originally scheduled for March 2022, the First Meeting of States Parties (1MSP) was postponed due to the pandemic of COVID-19, and was held June 21-23 in Vienna. The conference was attended by 49 states parties, international organizations such as the UN , and 85 nongovernmental organizations. In addition, 34 countries, including Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Germany, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland participated as observers.

At the beginning of the meeting, UN Secretary-General Guterres stated in a video message, “ Today, the terrifying lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are fading from memory. The once unthinkable prospect of nuclear conflict is now back within the realm of possibility. … The [TPNW] is an important step towards the common aspiration of a world without nuclear weapons.” 60

During the three-day meeting, discussions were held to develop final documents, based on the following working papers (most of which were submitted by the countries appointed as facilitators):

➢ Working paper 1: Designation of a competent international authority/authorities (by Brazil and Mexico)
➢ Working paper 2: Operationalizing the gender provisions of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (by Chile, Ireland, Mexico and UNIDIR)
➢ Working paper 3: Complementarity with the Existing Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Regime (by Ireland and Thailand)
➢ Working paper 4: Nuclear Disarmament as a Humanitarian and Legal Imperative (by ICRC)
➢ Working paper 5: Implementing Articles 6 and 7 (by Kazakhstan and Kiribati)
➢ Working paper 6: Institutionalizing scientific and technical advice for the effective implementation of the Treaty on the Prohibiti on of Nuclear Weapons (by the President-designate )
➢ Working paper 7: Implementing article 12 of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons: universalization (by the Austria, Costa Rica and Indonesia)
➢ Working paper 8: Intersessional structure for the implementation of the Treaty (by the President-designatedesignate)

➢ Working paper 9: Deadlines for the removal from operational status and destruction of nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices, and their removal from national territories (Article (by South Africa)

On the last day of the 1MSP, participating countries adopted the following documents61 by consensus: “Declaration of the 1st Meeting of States Parties of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons” ; Vienna Action Plan; and “Decisions.” It was also decided that the next MSP would be held at UN Headquarters in New York from November 27 to December 1, 2023.



In the Declaration, titled “Our Commitment to a World Free of Nuclear Weapons,” participating countries stated their intention to pursue a global ban on nuclear weapons under the TPNW , including the following points :

➢ The establishment of a legally binding prohibition on nuclear weapons constitutes a fundamental step towards the irreversible, verifiable and transparent elimination of nuclear weapons needed for the achievement and maintenance of a world free of nuclear weapons.
➢ The catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons cannot be adequately addressed, transcend national borders, pose grave implications for human survival and well-being and are incompatible with respect for the right to life.
➢ The risk of a nuclear weapon detonation by accident, miscalculation or design concerns the security of all humanity and achieving and maintaining a nuclear-weapon-free world serves both national and collective security interests;
➢ The risks posed to all humanity by the existence of nuclear weapons are, thus, so grave that immediate action is needed to achieve a world without nuclear weapons. This is the only way to guarantee t hat they are never used again, under any circumstances.
➢ We regret and are deeply concerned that despite the terrible risks, and despite their legal obligations and political commitments to disarm, none of the nuclear-armed states and their allies under the nuclear umbrella are taking any serious steps to reduce their reliance on nuclear weapons.
➢ We will move forward with its implementation, with the aim of further stigmatizing and delegitimizing nuclear weapons and steadily building a robust global perempt ory norm against them.
➢ We will also work with states outside the Treaty. We recognize the [NPT] as the cornerstone of the disarmament and nonproliferation regime, and deplore threats or actions that risk undermining it. As fully committed states parties to the NPT, we reaffirm the complementarity of the Treaty with the NPT.

➢ We urge all states to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons without delay.

The Declaration also mentioned: “ We are alarmed and dismayed by threats to use nuclear weapons and increasingly strident nuclear rhetoric. We stress that any use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is a violation of international law, including the Charter of the United Nations. We condemn unequivocally any and all nuclear threats, whether they be explicit or implicit and irrespective of the circumstances.” Although the first draft included criticism of Russia by name for its repeated nuclear intimidations in its aggression against Ukraine, following claims by Austria and other mainly Western partici pants, such straightforward criticism was deleted in the later versions because of opposition from South Africa, Venezuela, Cuba and other countries that maintain good relations with Russia.


Vienna Action Plan

The other document adopted on substantive matters, the “Vienna Action Plan, ” was designed “to facilitate effective and timely implementation of the TPNW and its objectives and goals following the First Meeting of States Parties. The Plan sets out concrete steps and actions, and elaborates on roles and responsibilities.
The actions are designed to guide States Parties and other relevant actors in the practical implementation of the Treaty, and thus to support States Parties in meeting their obligations, and furthering the Treaty’s objective and purpose in a cooperative spirit among States Parties and other involved stakeholders.”

Then, 50 actions were listed for the universali zation, elimination of nuclear weapons, victim assistance and environmental remediation, institutionalizing scientific and technical advice, the relationship of the TPNW with nuclear disarmament, and other matters essential for achieving the Treaty’s aims.

Regarding the universalization, the focus of the states parties is to “increase[e] the number of signatories and ratifications, as well as actively engaging in promoting the norms, values and underlying arguments of the Treaty, such as concern about the inherent risks and catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, and the Treaty’s effective contribution towards disarmament and international peace and security. ” They also pledged to “[e] ngage with those States that for the moment remain committed to nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence, inter alia by providing opportunities for dialogue, highlighting the underlying rationale of the Treaty and the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and their inherent risks, and pursuing a fact -based approach in engaging with concerns or criticisms about the TPNW. ”


Decision: Agreements on institutional issues

The “Decisionecision” on the institutional issues adopted at the 1MSP, firstly, stipulated deadlines for the removal from operational status and destruction of nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices, and their removal from national territories. As for elimination of nuclear weapons, they agreed that that: if a nuclear-armed state accedes to the TPNW, it must dismantle its nuclear weapons within 10 years; if unforeseen circumstances arise in the process, the deadline can be extended for up to five years, subject to approval by the states parties (decisions regarding the extension will be based on the recommendations of the Scientific Advisory Group and relevant technical international organizations); and in the case of a state party in whose territory another country deploys nuclear weapons, the state party removeremoves them from its territory within 90 days of its accession. 

Secondly, it stipulated the establishment of t the Scientific Advisory Group, comprised of up to 15 members. The purpose of this Group is to “[s]ecure access to updated scientific and technical advice on matters of relevance to the Treaty, for example the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons or implementation issues, in order to facilitate decision-making on the basis of the most updated scientific knowledge available to all States parties.” It played a role in providproviding scientific and expert advices on issues related to the implementation of the treaty , including the elimination of nuclear weapons, verification, humanitarian impacts and risks, and victim assistance and environmental remediation.62

Thirdly, the MSP decided to appoint Ireland and Thailand as informal facilitators to further explore and articulate possible areas of tangible cooperation between the TPNW and the NPT, and other relevant nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation instruments.
Fourthly, the MSP decided to establish an intersessional structure for the implementation of the treaty, a Coordination Committee for preparation of 2MSP, 63 and the following three informal working groups:

➢ Universalization (co-chaired by Malaysia and South Africa);
➢ Victim assistance, environmental remediation, and international cooperation and assistance ( co-chaired by Kazakhstan and Kiribati); and
➢ The implementation of Article 4, in particular work related to the future designation of (a) competent international authority(ies) (co-chaired by Mexico and New Zealand).

The informal working groups will be open to participation from all states partiesparties, with the involvement of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the Secretariat, and relevant international organizations as observers. Interested Signa tory States and additional experts and civil society partners, as well as other relevant stakeholders may be invited to participate as observers.

In addition, Chile was appointed as Gender Focal Point to work to support the implementation of the gender provisions of the TPNW.


C) Arguments by signatory and ratification countries

Countries that support the TPNW also insisted on the importance of TPNW at the NPT RevCon, and argued that it is complementary to the NPT. Countries signing and ratifying the TPNW issued a joint statement, in which they said: “Nuclear weapons are now explicitly and comprehensively prohibited by international law”; “We reaffirm the complementarity of the TPNW with the NPT”; and “We are please d to have advanced the implementation of the NPT’s Article VI by bringing into force a comprehensive legal prohibition of nuclear weapons, as a necessary and effective measure related to the cessation of the nuclear arms race and to nuclear disarmament.” Taking into account documents adopted at the 1MSP, those countries argued, “the TPNW is needed more than ever. We will move forward with its implementation, with the aim of further stigmatizing and delegitimizing nuclear weapons and steadily building a robust global peremptory norm against them.” 64

Austria which was a chair country of the 1MSP argued, “ Any attempt to distinguish between ‘irresponsible’ and ‘responsible’ nuclear threats is highly questionable and logically inconsistent from our point of view .” And it stated, This crucial evidence also underpins our strong commitment to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). The TPNW is not only fully complementary with the NPT but brings a crucial and urgently needed  re-enforcement of the norms for nuclear disarmament and against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Austria calls on all states to join the TPNW and to engage actively and constructively with the profound arguments on which it is based.”65 Regarding the complementarity between NPT and TPNW , it stated, “It is generally accepted that the full implementation of article VI [of the NPT] requires a legally binding norm to prohibit nuclear weapons, since otherwise a world free of nuclear weapons cannot be achieved or maintained. This legally binding norm, indispensable for the full implementation of article VI, came about by the adoption by 122 countries of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on 7 July 2017.” Austria also argued that “ The [TPNW] contains clear pathways towa rds a world free of nuclear weapons in its article 4, representing an effective measure as foreseen in article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Furthermore, the prohibitions in article 1 of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons strengthen the global non-proliferation and disarmament regime.”66

On the other hand, France , for instance, reiterated its opposition to the TPNW , accusing it of detaching the challenges of nuclear disarmament from the international security context and undermining the NPT by creating an “alternative, incompatible, and incomplete standard.” 67 During the process of drafting a final document of the NPT RevCon , several Western countries, including France and the United States, insisted that it should be limited to factual references. As a result, the final draft only mentioned the adoption of the TPNW, its opening to signatory and entry into force, and convening of the 1MSP.

At the 2022 UNGA, a resolution was adopted titled “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,” 68 which welcomed the convening of the 1MSP and called upon all states that have not yet done so to sign, ratify, accept, approve or accede to the treaty at the earliest possible date. The voting behavior of countries surveyed in this project on this resolution was as follows.

➢ 119 in favor (Austria, Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, the UAE and others); 44 against (Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, the Netherlands, Norway , Pakistan, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and others);  13 abstentions ( Australia, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland and others) – Syria did not vote.

Regarding the legal prohibition of nuclear weapons, the UNGA in 2022 adopted resolutions “Follow-up to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons” 69 and “ Convention on the prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons.” 70 The voting behaviors of respective countries with respect to these resolutions were as follows:

➢ “Follow-up to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legality of the threat or use of  nuclear weapons”—a 133  in favor (Austria, Brazil, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Mexico, New Zealand, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Switzerland, Syria and others); 35 against (Australia, France, Germany, Israel, South Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and others); 13 abstentions (Canada, India, Japan, North Korea and others)

➢ “Convention on the prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons” —116 in favor (China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Syria and others); 50 against (Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, South Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand,  Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and others); 15 abstentions (Brazil, Japan, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and others)


D) Countries not signing the TPNW

Nuclear-armed states maintained their position of refusing to sign the TPNW.
For instance, China reiterated its arguments in its national report submitted to the NPT RevCon, “ As far as the ultimate goal of the total and complete destruction of nuclear weapons is concerned, China shares the objective of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. However, the nuclear disarmament process cannot be cut off from the reality of international security.
In this regard, a step-by-step approach must be taken and the principles of “maintaining global strategic stability” and “undiminished security for all” should be followed. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons does not reflect or constitute customary international law, and is not binding on countries that are not member States of the Treaty.71 France stated, “It would be dangerous to disconnect the challenges of nuclear disarmament from the security context, characterize d by growing global and regional tensions the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.
This is why France reiterates its opposition to the TPNW , which is likely to undermine the NPT as the cornerstone of the international non -proliferation regime by creating an alternative, incompatible and incomplete norm.” 72 Russia criticized the proponents of the TPNW, arguing: “It seems that some countries have come to believe that their supreme historical mission is to convert the nuclear powers to the ‘correct,’ as they see it, understanding of disarmament priorities, make them feel ‘guilty’ before the international community, and force them to swiftly reduce their arsenals and, eventually, give them up altogether.” 73

The other nuclear-armed states made arguments similar to the NWS . Among them, India stated , “India would like to reiterate that the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, negotiated outside the CD, does not create any obligations for India. India believes that this Treaty, in no way constitutes or contributes to the development of any customary international law.” 74

Among the NNWS surveyed in this report that have not signed or ratified the TPNW, Australia, Brazil, Germany, Indonesia, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland participated in the 1MSP as observers.

Among these countries, NATO members Germany, the Netherlands and Norway addressed the meeting, arguing the importance of the NPT in nuclear disarmament and reiterating that they have no intention of  joining the TPNW as it is in compatible with their NATO obligations, while stating that they would promote constructive dialogue and discussion toward a world without nuclear weapons with countries that support the TPNW . Sweden, which, together with Finland Finland, applied to join NATO after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, also said it would maintain its decision in 2019 not to sign or ratify the TPNW , arguing , among other things, that “the Treaty does not include any of the countries that possess nuclear weapons, which we do not see as a realistic or effective way forward.” 75 Switzerland, which along with Sweden voted in favor of adopting the treaty in 2017, said that a new assessment of the relationship between the NPT and the TPNW and the question of the TPNW’s contribution to nuclear disarmament would be made by the end of 2022, taking into account the results of the 1MSP and the NPT RevCon. 76 And Brazil stated, “ Its text is currently under consideration of the Brazilian Congress with a view to its ratification.” 77

Japan did not attend the 1MSP. At a press conference on June 15, Prime Minister Kishida stated the reasons for his decision as follows:

As I have said, I recognize that the TPNW is a very important treaty that will serve as a way out in pursuit of a world with out nuclear weapons.
However, I believe that Japan should start by making realistic efforts for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation based on a relationship of trust with the United States since a s of today, not a single NWS has joined this treaty. … In the future, I would like to realize a world where we can link the NWS to the TPNW . However, in order to achieve this, we have decided that it is appropriate for us to start with the realistic efforts as part of our “realism diplomacy for a new era,” and that is why Japan will not attend the [1MSP of] the TPNW this year. 78

Japan’s 2022UNGA resolution on nuclear disarmament resolution referred to the TPNW for the first time, albeit only in factual terms, such as the treaty’s adoption and entry into force. In the meantime, Australia abstained from, rather than opposed, the adoption of the UNGA resolution on the TPNW. The U.S. embassy in Canberra approved of Australia’s response to the treaty , stating that the TPNW “would not allow for US extended deterrence relationships, which are still necessary for international peace and security security.”79


58 Emma Farge, “Major U.N. Powers Question Pacific Islanders’ Call for Nuclear Legacy Help,” Reuters, October 6, 2022,
59 Daryl G. Kimball and Chris Rostampour, “U.S., Marshall Islands Grapple with Nuclear Legacy,” Arms Control Today, November 2022,

60 “Statement by UN Secretary-General António Guterres,” 1MSP of the TPNW, June 21, 2022.
61 TPNW/MSP/2022/6, July 21, 2022.

62 TPNW/MSP/2022/WP.6, June 17, 2022.

63 The Coordination Committee was held in New York in October 2022, on the sidelines of the UNGA First Committee. “TPNW Coordination Committee Meets to Advance Implementation Work,” ICAN, October 31, 2022, tation_work.
64 “Joint Statement delivered by Mexico, on behave of the TPNW State Parties and Signatories,” August 17, 2022.

65 “Statement by Austria,” General Debate, 10th NPT RevCon, August 2, 2022.
66 NPT/CONF.2020/WP.61, June 29, 2022.
67 Ray Acheson, “Report on Main Committee I,” NPT in the Review, Vol. 17, No. 3 (August 6, 2022), p. 11.
68 A/RES/77/54, December 7, 2022.

69 A/RES/77/57, December 7, 2022.
70 A/RES/77/82, December 7, 2022.

71 NPT/CONF.2020/WP.28, November 29, 2021.
72 “Statement by France,” Main Committee I, NPT RevCon, August 4, 2022.
73 NPT/CONF.2020/WP.56, May 27, 2022.
74 “Statement by India,” First Committee, UNGA, October 17, 2022.
75 “Statement by Sweden,” TPNW 1MSP, June 22, 2022.

76 “Statement by Switzerland,” TPNW 1MSP, June 22, 2022.
77 “Statement by Brazil,” TPNW 1MSP, June 22, 2022.
78 “Press Conference by Prime Minister Kishida,” June 15, 2022, kishida/statement/2022/0615kaiken.html. (in Japanese)
79 Daniel Hurst, “US Warns Australia against Joining Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons,” Guardian, November 8, 2022, ing-treaty-banning-nuclear-weapons.

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