This briefing paper, issued by Article 36 at the 2014 Preparatory Committee of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, sets out a summary of the prohibitions and other obligations contained in the five Nuclear Weapon Free Zone treaties. It discusses the relationship between these treaties and a proposed new international treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons.

There are five Nuclear Weapon Free Zone treaties (NWFZs) covering the regions of Latin America and the Caribbean (the 1967 Treaty of Tlatelolco), the South Pacific (the 1985 Treaty of Rarotonga), South East Asia (the 1995 Treaty of Bangkok), Africa (the 1996 Treaty of Pelindaba) and Central Asia (the 2006 Treaty of Semipalatinsk). These zones combined comprise 115 states, accounting for 60% of all UN Member States, and cover the entire southern hemisphere.

The NWFZ treaties are all structured and drafted slightly differently but they share many key characteristics. They all prohibit nuclear weapons in their respective regions. Globally, they provide important contributions towards the rejection and stigmatization of nuclear weapons and a strong basis for developing an international prohibition on nuclear weapons. Through their preambles these treaties envision a global prohibition on nuclear weapons, alongside all weapons of mass destruction, that provides a framework for their elimination.

This paper argues that NWFZ agreements are important building blocks that should be expanded upon through an international ban treaty. Just as groups of states within these regions worked together to develop regional agreements to prohibit nuclear weapons, so a group of likeminded states can work at the global level to achieve an international ban treaty.

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Nuclear Weapon Free Zones and banning nuclear weapons

Nuclear weapon free zones and banning nuclear weapons

May 2014
Briefing paper

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