The TPNW requires all states parties ‘in a position to do so’ to provide assistance to affected states parties. That assistance can come in a variety of forms. For example, donor states parties can provide technical support in the form of medical, scientific, or environmental expertise; material support, such as health care or remediation equipment; or financial support to fund affected states’ victim assistance and environmental remediation programmes. Given the range of types of assistance, all states should be in a position to provide some sort of support.
The Treaty also mandates that all states parties that have used or tested nuclear weapons provide ‘adequate assistance’ to help affected states meet their victim assistance and environmental remediation obligations.
This provision was especially important to small and affected countries during the drafting of the Treaty; they argued user and testing states should be legally as well as morally responsible for their actions. Although nuclear- armed states have not joined the Treaty, their adherence is not necessary to trigger the responsibility of other states parties.
While most of Article 7 is directed at supporting victim assistance and environmental remediation, it obliges all states parties to cooperate ‘to facilitate implementation of the Treaty’ and entitles all states parties ‘the right to seek and receive assistance, where feasible’. Assistance can also be provided for the development of national implementation legislation or destruction of stockpiles.
International and non-governmental organisations also have a role to play. As referenced in Article 7(5) of the TPNW, assistance may be provided through the United Nations, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, civil society groups, or other organisations.
To help donor states determine how best to distribute support, states requesting international assistance should present their needs, national plans, and existing resources and provide regular updates on their progress in implementation. Donor states should, in turn, commit to multi-year assistance packages and work closely with recipients to ensure support is used effectively and efficiently.
Effectiveness of cooperation and assistance obligations
Significant evidence exists in other disarmament treaties of the effectiveness of an obligation to cooperate and assist. Comparable provisions in the Antipersonnel Mine Ban Concvention (APMBC) and the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), for example, have generated extensive international assistance. In 2014–18, donor states provided $2.6 billion to mine action. The funds have supported clearance of landmines and cluster munition remnants (which is akin to environmental clean-up) as well as victim assistance and capacity building. The norms set by these treaties have even led to significant contributions from states not party, notably the United States.