Photo courtesy of @nuclearban on Twitter
In Vienna next week representatives from states from all over the world will gather for the First Meeting of States Parties of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It sounds like a mouthful, but it’s actually a really important meeting for those who want to see a world without nuclear weapons.
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, also known as the TPNW, was negotiated at the United Nations during 2017 and since it opened for signature 86 states from every continent have signed and 61 of those have completed the formal ratification process – including Guatemala just last week.
States and civil society have been calling for a Treaty to ban nuclear weapons for decades, and while the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty has been in place more than 50 years, progress on disarmament has been slow and the number of nuclear-armed states has actually increased. While 9 states have nuclear capabilities and others are part of nuclear alliances like NATO – more than 130 states supported the TPNW at the UN last year.
The TPNW demonstrated that the vast majority of states do not want nuclear weapons and do not believe they are necessary for their security. Rather than spending billions of pound on weapons capable of killing millions of innocent people these states are instead able to invest in socially productive areas.
The conference in Vienna will see the states that have joined the Treaty, as well as observers including Norway and Germany, discuss the latest developments and what next steps might be taken to increase engagement with the Treaty from those who haven’t yet formally joined.
The Treaty is a comprehensive ban on activities involving nuclear weapons including their use, threat to use, assisting others to acquire and hosting the weapons of others. There are also provisions about reparations to the victims of nuclear testing across the world.
One thing that isn’t covered is financial institutions who provide companies involved with the manufacture and maintenance of nuclear weapons with their money. Billions of pounds are invested from British banks and pension funds every year. We believe it’s time for these financial institutions to join the international movement against nuclear weapons and invest our money in socially productive activities like tackling climate change amongst other things.
The Nuclear Weapons Financing Research group has been working on this issues since 2020, and our report highlighted the scale of problem, with billions being invested by UK financial institutions every year. We believe that together we can change this – and we’ve already had good dialogues with a number of the institutions mentioned in our report.
We know that banks and pension providers are paying close attention to the development of the TPNW and will be watching what happens in Vienna this week. Now really is the perfect time to use our online tool to write to your bank and/or pension provider and ask them to move your money away from nuclear weapons.