States parties and signatories alike took a broad range of actions in 2022 to implement the TPNW’s obligation under Article 12 of the Treaty to encourage further states to sign and ratify, with the goal of universal adherence.
At the First Meeting of States Parties to the TPNW (1MSP) in Vienna in June 2022, states parties resolved ‘to make universalisation efforts a priority’,1 vowing not to rest ‘until the last state has joined the Treaty’ and ‘nuclear weapons have been totally eliminated’.2 They emphasised that universalisation should be ‘understood broadly’ to include not only further signatures and ratifications, but also greater acceptance of ‘the underlying rationale of the total elimination of nuclear weapons owing to their inherent risks and catastrophic humanitarian consequences’. Moreover, it should ‘serve as a strategy to maximise the authority of the core norms and principles of the Treaty in international politics’.3
The Vienna Action Plan, adopted at the 1MSP, lists 14 actions for universalisation, including making diplomatic démarches and outreach visits to the capitals of non-parties, providing technical support for states to complete their ratification processes, highlighting the importance of the Treaty in national and regional statements, and coordinating outreach efforts with partners such as the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). The states parties also agreed to nominate national contact points to facilitate this work.4
In Vienna, an informal working group on universalisation was also set up, with Malaysia and South Africa to serve as its co-chairs until the Second Meeting of States Parties (2MSP).5 As one of their first initiatives, the co-chairs facilitated a TPNW signing and ratification ceremony in September on the sidelines of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly.6 Five states signed the Treaty on this occasion (Barbados, Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea, Haiti, and Sierra Leone) and two ratified it (the Dominican Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo).
In the course of 2022, TPNW states parties made numerous individual and collective appeals in the UN and other relevant international forums for further states to sign and ratify the Treaty. At the Tenth Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in August, for example, 65 TPNW states parties and signatories issued a joint statement, coordinated by Mexico, urging all states that are committed to a world free of nuclear weapons ‘to join the TPNW without delay’.7
TPNW states parties also actively promoted the Treaty on a regional basis. The TPNW featured prominently in discussions at the general conference of states parties to the Latin American and Caribbean Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (NWFZ) Treaty held in Mexico in November.8 The Caribbean Community (CARICOM), announced in October that all of its member states are now ‘either parties, signatories or in [the] process of acceding to the TPNW’. It pledged to continue encouraging all states to support the TPNW as ‘a vital and progressive step towards achieving a world free of nuclear weapons’.9
In August, Namibia chaired an African Group meeting in New York to promote adherence to the Treaty,10 and the group subsequently urged ‘all members of the international community, especially nuclear-weapon states and those under the so-called “nuclear umbrella”, to seize the opportunity to sign and ratify the Treaty at an early date’.11 The African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE)–the secretariat for the African NWFZ Treaty–participated in African Group meetings where the TPNW was discussed, and in October 2022 signed a memorandum of understanding with ICAN to cooperate in efforts to universalise the TPNW.12
In February, the deputy foreign minister of Kazakhstan hosted a meeting with ambassadors from its partner countries in the NWFZ in Central Asia, calling on them to also become states parties to the TPNW.13 As a result of the efforts of TPNW states parties in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a statement in October 2022 in the First Committee of the UN General Assembly on behalf of all members of this group reiterated that the TPNW ‘is a historic agreement which contributes towards global nuclear disarmament and complements other existing nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation instruments, including the NPT, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and nuclear-weapon-free zone Treaties’.14 The Arab Group too, confirmed that the TPNW ‘does not run counter to the NPT; on the contrary, it complements the NPT and gives it impetus to achieve its goals’.15
In many cases, calls to adhere to the TPNW came from the highest levels of government. New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, said in an address to the UN General Assembly in September: ‘The only way to guarantee our people that they will be safe from the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons is for them not to exist. That’s why Aotearoa New Zealand calls on all states that share this conviction to join the [TPNW].’16 Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, highlighted her country’s ratification of the TPNW as evidence of its full commitment ‘to complete disarmament’.17