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Negotiating the Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons: Accession Provisions

A three-part series of informal discussions

In this last session, sponsored by the Permanent Mission of South Africa, the GCSP and the Geneva Disarmament Platform (GDP) are pleased to invite you to discuss some fundamental concerns surrounding a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons.

As the ban treaty is conceived solely as a prohibition instrument, and will not itself deal with elimination of nuclear weapons or verification, this session will discuss by what means nuclear-armed states could be permitted to join it. The treaty could specify that any non-nuclear-weapon state party to the NPT may join freely, but set out certain conditions for the accession of NPT nuclear-weapon states and states that are not party to the NPT. What would these conditions be? Would nuclear-armed states have to disarm completely and have the elimination of their arsenals verified before they could join? (This would be analogous to the way in which South Africa joined the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon state.) Or would they be allowed to join while still possessing nuclear weapons, provided some time-bound process of verified elimination is under way (as in the Chemical Weapons Convention)? If the latter, how much should the ban treaty specify about such a process? Would nuclear-armed states be left to make their own arrangements for verified elimination (whether unilateral, bilateral or plurilateral), or would ban treaty parties have a role in negotiating and/or approving the process? If ban treaty parties are to have a role, would this mean negotiating a further multilateral instrument (or instruments), perhaps adding elimination and verification protocols to the framework established by the ban treaty, or otherwise developing a comprehensive nuclear weapons convention? Or would it just mean some kind of approval process for the arrangements made by nuclear-armed states?

The format for the meeting will be as follows:

  1. Welcome by the sponsoring state
  2. Introduction to the topic by invited experts
  3. Open discussion moderated by the GCSP and the GDP

Coffee will be served before the discussion, and a non-attributed summary will be circulated after the meeting. Participants will need to take care of their own access to the Palais.

Participants do not need to register, but they are encouraged to circulate draft working papers, textual proposals, or any other written contribution to the meetings. Papers for circulation, as well as any queries or suggestions, can be sent to Richard Lennane and Marc Finaud


This series of discussions will take place before the negotiations on “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination” which will begin in New York on 27 March, following the adoption of General Assembly resolution 71/258.

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Room XI, Palais des Nations

Any questions?

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