Friends of the TPNW

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Section five of nine of SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s 2019 peace proposal, “Toward a New Era of Peace and Disarmament: A People-Centered Approach.”

Seychelles president signs the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons with two men on either side of him Seychelles President Danny Faure signs the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 26, 2018 [Photo © ICAN/Darren Ornitz Photography]

Next, I would like to offer five proposals comprising concrete steps to help resolve urgent problems concerning peace and disarmament and to significantly advance efforts to achieve the SDGs.

The first pertains to the early entry into force of the TPNW and expansion of the number of countries participating. Since its adoption in July 2017, the TPNW has been signed by seventy states, or more than one-third of the UN member states; twenty have ratified so far. Fifty states need to ratify for it to enter into force, and the process of ratification has been advancing at a steady pace comparable to that of the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention.

Moreover, it should be noted that nearly 80 percent of the world’s states, including those yet to become states parties to the TPNW, have put in place security policies conforming to the prohibitions set out in it. According to Norwegian People’s Aid, a partner of ICAN, 155 states adhere to the prohibitions against developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, acquiring, possessing, stockpiling, transferring, receiving the transfer of, using, threatening to use, allowing any stationing, installation or deployment of any nuclear weapons and assisting or receiving any assistance to engage in any activity prohibited under the Treaty.

In other words, an overwhelming majority of the world’s states, including those that do not adhere to the TPNW at this point, maintain security policies that are not dependent on nuclear weapons, signaling their acceptance of its core norms. It is vital to achieve the entry into force of the Treaty and expand the scope of its ratification so that these norms on the prohibition of nuclear weapons become truly universal.

At the same time, there are those who argue that the TPNW could deepen divisions within the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) regime, the key international framework for nuclear disarmament. The fact is, however, that the goals of the two Treaties are ultimately the same, and the TPNW in no way undermines the NPT. Rather, we should focus on the fact that the TPNW can breathe new life into the obligation to conduct good faith negotiations toward nuclear disarmament as stipulated in Article VI of the NPT.

Here, I would like to propose the creation of a group of like-minded states to deepen and extend the debate that has developed during the process leading up to the adoption of the TPNW, with an eye toward expanding participation in the Treaty. It could be called Friends of the TPNW, modeled after Friends of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), a group that is working for the entry into force of that treaty. Since being initiated by Japan, Australia and the Netherlands in 2002, Friends of the CTBT has held ministerial meetings every other year. Some seventy countries participated in the ninth such meeting last year.

It is noteworthy that participants in the ministerial meetings include nuclear-weapon, nuclear-dependent and non-nuclear-weapon states. States have taken part irrespective of their signing or ratification status. A number of governments have ratified the CTBT after attending these ministerial meetings, and there have also been cases of states that have participated in a ministerial meeting after ratification where they have encouraged other Annex 2 States to ratify.

related article A Fourth Special Session of the General Assembly A Fourth Special Session of the General Assembly Ikeda proposes measures to promote progress on nuclear disarmament, including a fourth special session of the UN General Assembly devoted to disarmament. While the United States has yet to ratify, both then Secretary of State John Kerry and former Defense Secretary William Perry have attended these ministerial meetings. Secretary Perry shared crucial lessons concerning nuclear weapons, including false alarms of Soviet ICBM launches during the 1970s. Building on the experience of Friends of the CTBT, a similar group focused on the TPNW could serve as a forum for sustained dialogue across their different stances regarding the Treaty.

I would strongly urge Japan to join and participate in such a group. I have consistently called for Japan, as the only country to have suffered a nuclear attack in wartime, to support and ratify the TPNW. Having played a vital role in Friends of the CTBT, Japan should cooperate in the formation of a Friends of the TPNW and encourage other nuclear-dependent states to participate in the dialogue, even as it works to overcome the challenges hindering its own accession to the Treaty.

The TPNW requires that the first meeting of states parties be convened within one year of its entry into force. I think that a Friends of the TPNW should be launched prior to this meeting because establishing a place of dialogue open to all states in advance would make a significant contribution to resolving differences over the treaty. Since Japan has declared its desire to serve as a bridge between the nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon states, it makes sense that it should take the initiative in creating a venue for such dialogue.

In the final stages of the negotiations on the TPNW, Japan announced the establishment of a Group of Eminent Persons for Substantive Advancement of Nuclear Disarmament. This group recently issued recommendations based on discussions among experts from nuclear-weapon, nuclear-dependent and non-nuclear-weapon states:

“The stalemate over nuclear disarmament is not tenable. . . The international community must move urgently to narrow and ultimately resolve its differences. . . All parties even though they might have different perspectives can work together to reduce nuclear dangers.”

Japan should support the work of a Friends of the TPNW, taking to heart this insight offered by the Group of Eminent Persons and collaborating with other countries such as Austria, which has volunteered to host the first meeting of states parties. I hope this group will actively create venues for dialogue among and between nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon states in coordination with organizations that contributed to the adoption of the TPNW such as the ICRC, ICAN and Mayors for Peace.

New initiatives have arisen from within civil society to build support for the TPNW. For example, last November, ICAN launched a new campaign, the Cities Appeal. Cities in the US and the UK, both nuclear-weapon states, and in Canada, Australia and Spain, nuclear-dependent states, have already joined the appeal. Through this initiative, ICAN aims to expand solidarity among local governments that support the TPNW while also enabling individual citizens to become proactively engaged. By using social media and the #ICANSave hashtag, people can share their conviction that they have the right to live in a world free from the threat of nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, Mayors for Peace, a network of 7,701 cities in 163 countries around the world, is calling for all states to join the Treaty.

In my proposal last year, I suggested the creation of a world map showing municipalities supporting the TPNW. I stressed the value of making clearly visible the global popular will that refuses to accept a state of affairs in which the horrors of a nuclear exchange remain a possibility, as a means of moving the world as a whole in the direction of denuclearization.

The SGI launched a second People’s Decade for Nuclear Abolition last year, to build on the work of the first Decade, which concluded in 2017 with the adoption of the TPNW. The second Decade is focused on expanding global support for the Treaty and paving the way toward a world free from nuclear weapons, and we will continue to work with like-minded partners to this end.

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