The Impact of the 50th Ratification of the TPNW on the Global Disarmament Efforts

Even though the world’s big nuclear weapons states today did not adopt it, the TPNW is going to change the conversation on nuclear weapons, how we learn about nuclear weapons, how we talk about them, and who can talk about them.

Venessa Hanson

Advocacy Team, SCRAP Weapons

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) is a legally binding ban that advocates for non-nuclear states to not develop or facilitate nuclear deterrent programs and nuclear weapons states to systematically abandon their nuclear weapons. The Treaty addresses the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences of nuclear weapons and believes that nuclear weapons pose a danger to all, not just to those countries that possess nuclear weapons. In addition to restrictions, the Treaty allows for aid to be made available to persons impacted by the use or testing of nuclear weapons, as well as for environmental remediation initiatives. 

As described in the preamble, the entry into force of the TPNW is “to ensure effective progress towards general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international supervision.” The preamble goes on to say that the current treaty is supposed to adhere to the aims and values of the Charter of the United Nations and reiterates, in particular, the obligation of States to refrain from threatening or exercising force against the territorial integrity or political freedom of any State in their foreign affairs. It also highlights the idea that the development and preservation of universal peace and stability should be supported with the least diversion to armament of the human and economic capital of the country.

Overall, the TPNW opposes the idea that security, prosperity and armaments go hand in hand and underlines the environmental and humanitarian ramifications of the use of such weapons. Even though the world’s big nuclear weapons states today did not adopt it, the TPNW is going to change the conversation on nuclear weapons, how we learn about nuclear weapons, how we talk about them, and who can talk about them. Regarding this last point, it must be acknowledged that the countries based in the Global South are the bulk of the countries that have ratified this treaty and thus enabled its entry into force. In the disarmament debate, such appreciation changes the paradigm towards these nations, who should be respected for their leadership.

The presence of women is another critical point discussed by TPNW. Two preambular paragraphs discuss the need to reinforce women’s involvement in nuclear disarmament and the importance of education on disarmament and awareness and highlights the threats and implications of continued nuclear possession for current and future generations.

In conclusion, the ratification of the TPNW compliments and strengthens the general disarmament efforts by calling to attention the humanitarian and environmental consequences of weapons of mass destruction, the relevance of the presence of women in the process, and most importantly the vital role of countries who do not have nuclear power.