First TPNW Conference Postponed

September 2021

The first meeting of states-parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) has been postponed until March 2022, according to a decision by states-parties facilitated by Alexander Kmentt, the president-designate of the conference. The meeting, which was originally set for Jan. 12–14 in Vienna, was delayed to avoid a conflict with the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference, which was rescheduled to Jan. 4–28, 2022, in New York as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The postponement is the latest in a series of international meetings on arms control and nonproliferation that have had to be rescheduled due to the pandemic. The NPT review conference has been postponed several times, and the International Atomic Energy Agency has canceled or postponed various events over the past 17 months. Other gatherings, such as the Conference on Disarmament and the 46th Group of Seven summit, have been shifted, either entirely or partially, to a virtual format. (See ACT, May 2020.)

According to the TPNW, the first meeting of states-parties was supposed to be held within one year of the treaty’s entry into force, which occurred Jan. 22, 2021. The states-parties agreed with Kmentt’s recommendation to waive this requirement “due to the unprecedented circumstances arising as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

According to Kmentt, the decision to delay the meeting of states-parties to accommodate the new dates of the NPT review conference “demonstrates the flexible and supportive approach” of TPNW states-parties and signatories toward “the entire nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation regime.”—HOLLIS RAMMER