Global challenges influencing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review process

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is the cornerstone of the global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. This point was re-emphasized as State Parties to the NPT gathered in Geneva from 23 April to 4 May to prepare for the 2020 Review Conference of the treaty. Global challenges, such as North Korea’s nuclear and missile programme and the uncertain future of the nuclear deal with Iran also influenced the discussions.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was opened for signatures in 1968 and entered into force in 1970. Today, the treaty is close to universal with 191 States Parties. The treaty has three key pillars:

  1. Furthering nuclear disarmament
  2. Preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons or weapons technology
  3. Recognising the right to peaceful use of nuclear energy

Every fifth year, States Parties to the NPT meet to review the status and progress of the treaty. In preparation for the 2020 Review Conference, three sessions of a Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) have been scheduled. The second session was held in Geneva between 23 April and 4 May 2018.

Norway believes that advancing nuclear disarmament verification is an essential foundation to achieve and maintain a world without nuclear weapons and to facilitate future progress on nuclear disarmament. During the PrepCom, Norway co-organized two side-events on this topic. Norway will also be taking an active role in an upcoming Group of Governmental Experts on the verification of nuclear disarmament, which was established following a Norwegian-lead resolution in the 2016 UN General Assembly.

The second session of the PrepCom coincided with the historic Inter-Korean summit on 27 April. Although a large number of states welcomed the resulting pledges to restore peace and cooperation and to denuclearise the Korean peninsula, the need to maintain the pressure on North Korea was emphasised by many. 63 states, including Norway, endorsed a joint statement by France and South Korea, which reflected this balance.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iran nuclear deal, was another topic discussed during the PrepCom. Many states expressed support for the deal and its contribution to non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, as well as regional and international peace and security.

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), a treaty which prohibits nuclear testing, is yet to enter into force. A large number of states, including Norway, emphasised its important role in setting a norm against nuclear testing and urged states that have not yet signed and ratified the treaty to do so as soon as possible.

This year’s PrepCom also witnessed a greater emphasis on including the gender dimensions in disarmament. A series of states underlined the necessity of ensuring gender parity and greater inclusion of women in delegations, at senior level, in discussion panels, and in the area of science and technology. It is not only fair that women are involved in influencing how we think and talk about nuclear weapons and how they are used. It is also smart, as studies, such as this one from UN Women, show that inclusion of women improve efficacy in peace processes and security policies.

Norway’s statements during the second session of the Preparatory Committee are available here: