We urge States parties to establish “Legal Framework to Achieve and Maintain a World Without Nuclear Weapons” in the Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
As an association that aims for abolition of nuclear weapons and hibakusha assistance, and as a legal association of a country that has experienced nuclear devastation during World War II, we request the following to the State parties to the NPT Review Conference:
1. Confirm that NPT and Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) are complementary to each other.
Article VI of the NPT obligates each States party to negotiate in good faith a treaty on the cessation of the nuclear arms race, nuclear disarmament, and general and complete disarmament. This is a commitment by nuclear weapon States to dismantle their own nuclear arsenals, coupled with the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons to non-nuclear-weapon States, indicating the necessity of the legal framework for a ‘World without nuclear weapons’. This ‘obligation to negotiate in good faith’ has also been held by the International Court of Justice to imply ‘obligation to conclude negotiation’.
On the other hand, the TPNW stipulates ‘the NPT as the cornerstone of the disarmament and non-proliferation regime’, and ‘the full and effective implementation of it has a vital role to play in promoting international peace and security’. The Declaration adopted at the First Meeting of the States parties to the TPNW in Vienna also reaffirms the complementarity between the two, ‘reaffirming the complementarity of the Treaty with the NPT’ and ‘urging all NPT States parties to reinvigorate their efforts to fully implement the obligation of Article VI and the actions and commitments agreed at NPT review conferences’.
Some NPT States parties claim that the NPT and the TPNW are in conflict, but this is never the case, and the two treaties are ‘complementary’ and not in any way contradictory or conflicting. Confirmation of this is an essential prerequisite for moving the discussions forward at the Review Conference. Therefore, we urge to confirm this.
2. Establish “Legal Framework to Achieve and Maintain a World Without Nuclear Weapons” with participation of nuclear-weapon states and nuclear weapon dependent states.
The declaration refers to the need for ‘a legal framework to achieve and maintain a world without nuclear weapons’ as ‘the establishment of a legally binding prohibition on nuclear weapons constitutes a fundamental step towards the irreversible, verifiable, and transparent elimination of nuclear weapons is needed for the achievement and maintenance of a world free of nuclear weapons.
Although the TPNW has entered into force, there is no ‘legal framework to achieve and maintain a world without nuclear weapons’ involving the nuclear-weapon states and nuclear-weapon dependent states. Such a legal framework should be established among NPT States parties on the basis of the NPT as a system to avoid nuclear war.
In the first place, ‘obligation to negotiate in good faith’ in Article VI of the NPT includes not only obligation to negotiate in good faith on effective measures to ‘achieve and maintain a world free of nuclear weapons’ but also ‘obligation to complete’.
A model Nuclear Weapons Convention already exists, submitted to the UN General Assembly by Costa Rica and Malaysia. We urge the Review Conference to establish ‘Legal Framework to Achieve and Maintain a World without Nuclear Weapons’ with the participation of nuclear-weapon states and nuclear-weapon-dependent states, with reference to this draft treaty.
July 21, 2022
Japan Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms
President Kenichi Okubo