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The context of the TPNW

A dominant narrative of 2021 was increased competition between major powers, centred on new weapons systems and regional hotspots and with clear risks of escalation to nuclear war. There was also increasing engagement with the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which has been mobilized as a vehicle for collective resistance to the structures of power that perpetuate the existence of nuclear weapons and the risk of nuclear violence.

A Ukrainian soldier walks in a trench on the line of separation from pro-Russian rebels near Debaltsevo, Donetsk region, Ukraine, on 3 December 2021. Tensions between Russia and NATO members escalated in 2021 with Ukraine and a number of Western states becoming increasingly concerned that a Russian troop build-up near the Ukrainian border could signal Moscow’s intention to invade. Their fears were realized on 24 February 2022.
A Ukrainian soldier walks in a trench on the line of separation from pro-Russian rebels near Debaltsevo, Donetsk region, Ukraine, on 3 December 2021. Tensions between Russia and NATO members escalated in 2021 with Ukraine and a number of Western states becoming increasingly concerned that a Russian troop build-up near the Ukrainian border could signal Moscow’s intention to invade. Their fears were realized on 24 February 2022. Photo: Andriy Dubchak/AP/NTB

While 156 states — four-fifths of the world’s total of 197 — presently maintain defence postures based exclusively on non-nuclear means, a substantial minority of 41 states continued in 2021 to centre their defence posture on the possession and potential use of nuclear weapons. As shown in teh figure opposite, nine of these states are themselves nuclear-armed (China, France, India, Israel, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States), while the remaining 32 are umbrella states: Two (Armenia and Belarus) are allies of Russia, while the other 30 are allies of the United States. Of the latter group, three states (Australia, Japan, and South Korea) have made bilateral nuclear defence arrangements with the United States and 27 states are members of NATO: Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Turkey.

The world's states disaggregated by national defence posture
The world's states disaggregated by national defence posture