Treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons ─ The 'Ban Treaty'

20-01-2021

On 22 January 2021, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (the TPNW) enters into force. On that day, nuclear weapons development, testing, production, possession, stockpiling, use and threat of use, as well as the stationing or deployment of another country's nuclear weapons on a state party's national territory will become prohibited under international law. The TPNW has been hailed as historic by supporters of an initiative, which has gained ground in recent years, to rid the world of the most destructive weapon known to humankind. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which spearheaded these efforts, was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. Supporters hope that the TPNW will strengthen the international legal framework and gradually advance the political norm against nuclear weapons possession and use. Opponents of the Treaty argue that the conditions for disarmament do not currently exist and that promoters of the TPNW fail to recognise this. They also point to the danger of undermining the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), recognised as the cornerstone of the global non-proliferation and disarmament regime, including by proponents of the TPNW. The nine states known to have military nuclear programmes have not signed the TPMW. Nor have Member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which in 2016 re-confirmed its commitment to nuclear deterrence. This raises doubts about the impact of this new instrument and its ability to create normative values. Most EU Member States, 21 of which are members of NATO, oppose the TPNW, and only three have ratified it. The European Parliament has noted that the TPNW provided evidence of the desire to achieve the objective of a nuclear weapons-free world. This is an updated version of an earlier briefing, from January 2018.

On 22 January 2021, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (the TPNW) enters into force. On that day, nuclear weapons development, testing, production, possession, stockpiling, use and threat of use, as well as the stationing or deployment of another country's nuclear weapons on a state party's national territory will become prohibited under international law. The TPNW has been hailed as historic by supporters of an initiative, which has gained ground in recent years, to rid the world of the most destructive weapon known to humankind. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which spearheaded these efforts, was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. Supporters hope that the TPNW will strengthen the international legal framework and gradually advance the political norm against nuclear weapons possession and use. Opponents of the Treaty argue that the conditions for disarmament do not currently exist and that promoters of the TPNW fail to recognise this. They also point to the danger of undermining the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), recognised as the cornerstone of the global non-proliferation and disarmament regime, including by proponents of the TPNW. The nine states known to have military nuclear programmes have not signed the TPMW. Nor have Member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which in 2016 re-confirmed its commitment to nuclear deterrence. This raises doubts about the impact of this new instrument and its ability to create normative values. Most EU Member States, 21 of which are members of NATO, oppose the TPNW, and only three have ratified it. The European Parliament has noted that the TPNW provided evidence of the desire to achieve the objective of a nuclear weapons-free world. This is an updated version of an earlier briefing, from January 2018.