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Celebrating the Second Anniversary of the Entry into Force for the TPNW

By: Clara Zhang and Hana Shono

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) entered into force two years ago on the 22nd of January 2021 following fifty State ratifications. With 92 signatories and 68 ratifications, the TPNW serves as a critical step towards global peace and security with its comprehensive ban on nuclear weapons. Such a ban prohibits the development, production, acquirement, possession, and threat to utilise nuclear weapons. The entry into force of the TPNW represented the start of a new era where the nuclear ‘taboo’ was strengthened, as the fight for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation continues.

Though both contribute to efforts in preventing the horrifying consequences arising from the usage of nuclear weapons, the TPNW is different from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as the TPNW serves to support and strengthen disarmament and non-proliferation commitments made by the NPT. The TPNW goes beyond horizontal non-proliferation commitments and extends to vertical non-proliferation, which prohibits the further development of nuclear weapons by nuclear states. Furthermore, the TPNW strengthens the nuclear taboo by creating a legally binding norm prohibiting nuclear weapons. It also outlines a process by which nuclear states could participate in such a treaty and practically commit to the removal of nuclear arsenals.

While we celebrate the success of the extraordinary achievement of the TPNW on its second anniversary, it is also important to note that we still have a long way ahead. Out of the 9 existing nuclear states, only 5 are parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and none have participated in the TPNW nor committed to the removal of nuclear weapons. Furthermore, since the start of 2023, Russia and North Korea have again publicly threatened the use of nuclear weapons, which – with even a minor possibility of their utilisation – poses a great threat to humanity. As seen in the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, nuclear weapons have a massive and long-lasting impact on both humanity and the environment.

However, great opportunities exist in crises. As the world is once again facing the threat of nuclear weapons, the importance of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation has come under the spotlight. So as we celebrate the two-year anniversary of the entry into force of the TPNW, United Nations House Scotland restates our commitment towards nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. In the past, our interns have contributed to this process in various ways by working closely and supporting the work of ICAN-UK to actively participate in the TPNW First Meeting of States Parties (1MSP), actively spreading the word on the importance of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and engaging in academic explorations on the topic. We believe that through our continuous collective effort, we will one day achieve a safer world free from nuclear weapons.

To learn more about the importance of the treaty, information released by ICAN-Australia can be accessed here.

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