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On January 22, 2021, the provisions of the first-ever treaty to completely ban the possession and use of nuclear weapons took effect. After years of attempts and negotiations, an international agreement aimed at the complete elimination of nuclear weapons was successfully created.

The TPNW imposes a number of prohibitions, such as prohibiting the development, testing, production, manufacture, acquisition, possession or storage of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. One of the key provisions is that a state that possesses such weapons and wishes to join the treaty must destroy its entire nuclear arsenal. This is a step not taken in any of the previous treaties regulating nuclear weapons.

Victim assistance

An important issue addressed in the TPNW is assistance to victims of the testing or use of nuclear weapons and the remediation of the environment contaminated by the testing or use of nuclear weapons. According to the provisions of Article 6 of the TPNW, each party to the treaty within whose jurisdiction there are persons harmed by the use of nuclear weapons must provide medical and psychological care and the necessary rehabilitation. All should be done with non-discrimination. In terms of the environment, each party to the treaty should take all necessary measures to remediate the contaminated area.

States Parties

Despite such an important issue regulated by the TPNW, not all states are willing to join. Currently, 86 states are signatories to the Treaty, 54 of which have ratified the TPNW. Unfortunately, none of the 9 nuclear-armed states has expressed a desire to join the TPNW. The same situation exists among the countries benefiting from NATO Nuclear Sharing. Of the European Union countries, only Austria, Ireland and Malta have joined the Treaty.

Summary

The TPNW is the first international treaty in history to comprehensively regulate the prohibition of nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, nuclear-armed states have identified it as a divisive threat, preventing further negotiations to end nuclear proliferation. As long as the nuclear powers and other leading players do not support the TPNW initiative, we cannot speak of a complete victory over the ban on nuclear weapons.

Robert Łasa

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