Abolition 2000 – Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons

Nuclear Weapon Free Zones Working Group

The Nuclear Weapon Free Zones (NWFZ) Working Group supports existing regional NWFZs and promotes the establishment of additional NWFZs including in the Arctic, Europe, Middle East and North East Asia.

Background:

A nuclear weapon-free zone (NWFZ) is a specified region in which countries commit themselves to not manufacture, acquire, test, or possess nuclear weapons.

Article VII of the 1968 Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) affirms the right of countries to establish specified zones free of nuclear weapons. United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3472 B (1975) reaffirmed that right and outlined the conditions for such zones.

Five such zones exist today, with four of them spanning the entire Southern Hemisphere. The populated regions currently covered under NWFZ agreements include: the Latin America (the 1967 Treaty of Tlatelolco), the South Pacific (the 1985 Treaty of Rarotonga), Southeast Asia (the 1995 Treaty of Bangkok) Africa (the 1996 Treaty of Pelindaba) and Central Asia (the 2006 Treaty of Semipalatinsk).

In addition, Mongolia has established itself as a Single-State NWFZ, and there are a number of non-country specific NWFZs covering Antarctica, the Sea Bed and Outer Space.

Each NWFZ treaty includes a protocol for the nuclear-weapon States to sign and ratify, whereby they legally commit themselves to not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against treaty States Parties (“negative security assurances”).

Nuclear weapon-free zones are an effective tool to strengthen the global nuclear prohibition norm, address non-proliferation issues, and promote regional cooperative, non-nuclear security. As such, NWFZ proposals have been made for regions with complex and unstable security environments, including the Arctic, Europe, the Middle East and Northeast Asia.

Resources:

Contacts/Coordinators:

Alyn Ware, Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy. alyn@lcnp.org
Rob van Riet, World Future Council. rob.vanriet@worldfuturecouncil.org

Other members:

Marc Finaud (Geneva Centre for Security Policy), Dr Andreas Nidecker (Basel Peace Office, IPPNW Switzerland), Dr Mounir Zahran (Pugwash Egypt).

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