After several postponements, the first Conference of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) will be held in Vienna from June 21-23, 2022.
The current situation caused by the war in Ukraine and the threat of the Russian government to use nuclear weapons make this conference the only multilateral meeting to advance nuclear disarmament, which is now more urgent than ever. The Russian threat, in addition to being highly irresponsible, highlights the danger and precariousness of the idea of nuclear deterrence. The destructive capacity of the existing nuclear arsenal calls for a fundamental change in the relations between the nuclear powers, and an important first step would be their participation as observers at the Vienna Conference.
This meeting aims to focus on the devastating humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons and therefore set as its main objectives the implementation of the positive obligations contained in the treaty, which are set out in Articles 6 (victim assistance and environmental reparation), 7 (international cooperation and assistance) and 12 (universalization of the treaty). The conference provides an opportunity to make victim assistance a central priority of this humanitarian disarmament treaty, as well as environmental remediation of areas affected by the use of nuclear weapons and cooperation and international assistance necessary to implement these two obligations.
Positive obligations are essential to achieve the humanitarian objectives of the treaty and aim to remedy the damage caused by the use and testing of nuclear weapons in the past, as well as to prevent any future damage. TPNW member states pledge to assist victims within their jurisdiction and repair damage to contaminated areas in their respective countries. Achieving these humanitarian goals will only be possible with the cooperation of all Member States. Thus, each State has the right to request and receive the necessary assistance from the other Member States of the Treaty, and the countries in a position to do so must provide the necessary technical, material and economic assistance to the Member States affected by the use of nuclear weapons. .
The implementation of the provisions contained in Articles 6 and 7 of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will acquire the necessary relevance if, during the conference, the Member States call for the active participation of all countries, international organizations, groups of civil society and communities affected by nuclear weapons. All voices must be heard so that, in the conclusions of the conference, the Member States can adopt a final report, a declaration and above all an action plan for the implementation of the positive obligations of the treaty.
The Vienna conference also aims to universalize the TPNW, ie to increase the number of countries adhering to it. For civil society groups that are part of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the universalization of the treaty should be a conference priority. To date, a total of 60 states have signed and ratified the treaty, and while at least 138 countries have expressed support for the TPNW, ICAN considers it a priority for states that have signed the treaty to encourage others to do the same. . Universalization implicitly involves a series of actions by member states to be taken in various forums in addition to the conference. These include the United Nations, regional forums, bilateral agreements and national contexts.
The Vienna conference marks the beginning of the deployment of the TPNW and all countries, but especially those that possess or harbor nuclear weapons and members of alliances that maintain nuclear deterrence as a strategy to ensure planetary security, should commit themselves to humanitarian disarmament objectives of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and attend the Vienna conference as observers.
The ICAN Campaign was pleased to learn a few months ago that NATO members Norway and Germany had decided to participate. To date, the Spanish state has given no response to numerous requests from local, national and international campaigns to accept the express invitation of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to participate in Vienna as an observer state. . The situation caused by the invasion of Ukraine and the real danger posed by putting the nuclear arsenal on alert should be reason enough for the Spanish government to abandon the belief that nuclear deterrence is the guarantor of our security and is clearly committed to disarmament by taking part in the Vienna conference as an observer state.
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is a reality that makes countries that possess these weapons of mass destruction and the majority of NATO member states uncomfortable, because it signifies a paradigm shift in the way of ensure global security. The new humanitarian approach means banishing nuclear deterrence as a security strategy and making the lives and well-being of people and the planet the urgent reason for nuclear disarmament. Recognizing that the nuclear race is an unwinnable race, more and more countries are embracing the new paradigm of joining the TPNW. Spain must follow the example of these countries and embark on the path of peace, human security and disarmament that membership of the TPNW entails.
This publication is part of the campaign10 reasons to sign the TPNW ”, which brings together civil society entities at the state level with the aim of Spain’s accession to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which entered into force on January 22, 2021.