On October 24, 2020, the number of state parties of Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) reaches 50 states. The treaty enters into force 90 days later (January 22, 2021).
We look back on the event of TPNW.
May 2010, Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference
The Conference expresses its deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and reaffirms the need for all States at all times to comply with applicable international law, including international humanitarian law.
The adopted final document also mentioned the necessity of the legal framework such as the nuclear ban treaty. *1
※１ UN 2010 NPT Review Conference Final Document https://undocs.org/NPT/CONF.2010/50%20(VOL.I)
November 2011 “Red Cross Resolution/ ICRC Resolution”
The ICRC adopts a resolution appealing to all nations to negotiate a “legally binding international agreement” to prohibit and completely eliminate nuclear weapons. *2
※２ ICAN, History of the TPNW, https://www.icanw.org/history_of_the_tpnw
May 2012 “the 2012 NPT Preparatory Committee (PrepCom)”
The 16 countries argued that “[a]ll States [had to] intensify their efforts to outlaw nuclear weapons and achieve a world free of nuclear weapons,” and that “it [wa]s essential that the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons [we]re thoroughly addressed” in the NPT review cycle. *3
*3 Hiroshima Report 2013, p14 https://hiroshimaforpeace.com/en/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2019/09/124439-1.pdf
2013, 2014: “International Conferences on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons”
Three “International Conferences on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons” held in 2013 and 2014 in Norway, Mexico and Austria. Mr. KOMIZO Yasuyoshi, the chairperson of Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation (at that time), evaluated the conference in Hiroshima Report 2018.
Reflecting the basis of such awareness, the Preamble to the TPNW clearly notes the testimonies and earnest appeals for the nuclear abolition by the hibakusha of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The collective turning point for this reawakening to the horrors of nuclear weapons came with the three “International Conferences on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons” held in 2013 and 2014. Participants in these Conferences came to realize that there had been numerous nuclear accidents and repeated cases placing nations on the verge of nuclear war. With such alarming knowledge, they listened to the testimony of the Hibakusha. This combination awakened the participants of the risks that anyone can become a victim of nuclear catastrophes, and it brought about a strong sense of ownership among large numbers of non-nuclear weapon states in nuclear disarmament negotiations. *4
*4 KOMIZO Yasuyoshi, “[Column 3] The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the Future of Nuclear Disarmament”, Hiroshima Report 2018, https://hiroshimaforpeace.com/en/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2019/09/273102.pdf
2016 “UN General Assembly”
“Taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament” was adopted.
35 against (Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Japan South Korea, Norway, Poland, Russia, Turkey, the U.K., the U.S. and others), *5
*5 Hiroshima Report 2017, p14, https://hiroshimaforpeace.com/en/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2019/09/318024.pdf
March, June-July, 2017 the United Nations Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading towards Their Elimination (hereinafter Negotiation Conference), was convened
The conference was convened in accordance with the resolution, titled “Taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations,” adopted at the UN General Assembly in 2016.
In the Hiroshima Report 2018, the Negotiation Conference was explained as follow.
On the first day of the Negotiation Conference, Austria, one of the countries which have taken initiative for its convening, stated: “I am proud and humbled to see such a large number of States assembled in this hall this morning. It shows the broad, the global support for a prohibition of [nuclear weapons].”
Nearly all the countries and NGOs that participated in the Negotiation Conference were proponents of establishing a treaty banning nuclear weapons. There existed different opinions among the participants regarding concrete obligations and measures which they considered should be stipulated in a treaty, such as: whether the threat to use nuclear weapons, in addition to any actual use, should explicitly be prohibited; whether a “nuclear test explosion”, which is banned by the CTBT, or a “nuclear test” which can be interpreted to include other than explosive tests, should be prohibited in a negotiated treaty; and whether a ban on transit of nuclear weapons should be included in the treaty. Nevertheless, such differences did not erode their belief that legislating norm in the form of a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons, in light of their humanitarian consequences is an essential step toward total elimination of nuclear weapons. Nor did the above differences diminish enthusiasm for concluding a treaty during the Negotiation Conference. Under the strong leadership of the chairperson of the negotiation conference, Costa Rican ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez, the TPNW was adopted on July 7, the last day of the Negotiation Conference, with 122 in favor, one against (the Netherlands) and one abstention (Singapore).
Moreover, Nuclear-armed/umbrella states, which were against or abstained from UN General Assembly Resolution 71/258 in 2016, did not participate in the Negotiation Conference of the TPNW, except the Netherlands. Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) also criticized the negotiation of nuclear weapons ban treaty at the 2017 NPT Preparatory Committee. It has deepened division between nuclear armed/ umbrella states and non-nuclear weapon states.
(Please see 1-(3) TREATY ON THE PROHIBITION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS (TPNW) in Hiroshima Report 2018. https://hiroshimaforpeace.com/en/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2019/09/273102.pdf )
July 7, 2017 TPNW was adopted
The TPNW was adopted on July 7, 2017, with 122 in favor, one against (the Netherlands) and one abstention (Singapore).20
We introduce the speech by Ms. Setsuko Thurlow, the atomic bomb survivor, at the UN headquarters on July 7, 2017.
As we gather in our celebrations at this extraordinary achievement, let us pause for a moment to feel the witness of those who perished in Hiroshima and Nagasaki; both at that time in August 1945, and over these 72 years — hundreds of thousands of people. Each person who died had a name. Each person was loved by someone.
You can also see her speech on YouTube of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)
September 20, 2017 TPNW opened for signature
Once TPNW opened for signature, 51 countries signed the TPNW and Guyana, Holy See and Thailand ratified the TPNW.
August 6, 2020 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima
The year 2020 falls on the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing.
On August 6, 2020, Ireland, Nigeria, Niue ratified the TPNW.
On August 9, 2020, the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Saint Kitts and Nevis ratified the TPNW and the number of state parties reaches to 44.
October 24, 2020 The number of state parties reaches to 50
Honduras ratified the TPNW and the number of state parties reaches to 50.