© Seikyo Shimbun

7th July 2022

SGI Actively Participates in Historic First Meeting of State Parties to the TPNW

  • Disarmament
  • Nuclear Abolition

During an exciting week for nuclear disarmament, several key meetings took place Vienna, Austria between 18–23 June 2022, including the historic First Meeting of State Parties (1MSP) to the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which was held from 21–23 June and chaired by Ambassador Alexander Kmentt of Austria.

The week began with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) Nuclear Ban Forum on 18–19 June, followed by the Austrian Government’s Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, a Parliamentarian Conference on 20 June and, finally, the Youth MSP on 21 June All of the events stressed the importance and urgency of nuclear disarmament, particularly as the world is currently facing increasing political tensions and nuclear posturing.

ICAN Nuclear Ban Forum © Seikyo Shimbun

Throughout the week, representatives of Soka Gakkai International worked with governments and civil society groups in calling for the universalization and compliance of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Some highlights of SGI’s activities at 1MSP included co-authoring a working paper on peace and disarmament education with the International Disarmament Institute of Pace University. The paper highlighted the importance of peace and disarmament education and made several recommendations to States Parties, including supporting survivors, affected communities, civil society, youth and educational institutions promoting it. It also stressed the need to support research on the humanitarian and environmental consequences of nuclear weapons and the need to address the role that colonialism, racism, patriarchy and other structures of oppression play in the development, deployment, testing and use of nuclear weapons. Finally, the paper urged states to acknowledge the importance of such education in relation to Article 12 on universalizing the Treaty in their statements.

On 21 June, SGI co-sponsored a side event with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, the Permanent Mission of Kiribati to the United Nations and the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. The event promoted victim assistance, environmental remediation and international cooperation in line with Articles 6 and 7 of the Treaty.

Five panel speakers sitting on a stage

SGI supported a side event addressing victim assistance, environmental remediation and international cooperation (second right, Hirotsugu Terasaki from SGI) © Seikyo Shimbun

Also on 21 June, the SGI Youth delegation worked with representatives from SGI-Italy’s “Senzatomica” anti-nuclear campaign and held a workshop on grassroots educational movements at the Youth MSP. Participants discussed reshaping the discourse around nuclear weapons and alternative educational approaches to empower learners. Sanya Rajpal of SGI-UK, who helped organize the event, commented, “We have to break down the logic which leads to nuclear weapons and all forms of structural violence and empower individuals to transform this in their own lives and then the world.”

Youth MSP workshop participants from SGI and Senzatomica © Seikyo Shimbun

SGI also worked on a joint interfaith statement that was delivered at the 1MSP on 22 June by Olivia Baro, a youth representative of the Pacific Conference of Churches. Signed by 144 organizations from diverse faith traditions, the statement highlighted the immoral and unethical nature of nuclear weapons and urged wider ratification of the treaty. Additionally, SGI helped to draft and endorse the youth statement to the MSP.

Presenting the Joint Interfaith Statement to President of the First Meeting of States Parties (1MSP), Ambassador Alexander Kmentt © Seikyo Shimbun

Overall, the week’s events were packed with Hibakusha, people from affected communities, young people, representatives from religious communities, academics, scientists and new campaigners from all corners of the world. It was a clear sign that the world’s people do not want to live under a nuclear threat and will continue to work together for a world free of nuclear weapons.

The 1MSP concluded with the Vienna Declaration and the Vienna Action Plan, both adopted by States Parties to the TPNW. Both documents are widely considered to be the strongest multilateral documents on nuclear weapons thus far. The Vienna Declaration states, “We have no illusions about the challenges and obstacles that lie before us in realizing the aims of this Treaty… But we move ahead with optimism and resolve. In the face of the catastrophic risks posed by nuclear weapons and in the interest of the very survival of humanity, we cannot do otherwise. We will take every path that is open to us, and work persistently to open those that are still closed. We will not rest until the last state has joined the Treaty, the last warhead has been dismantled and destroyed and nuclear weapons have been totally eliminated from the Earth."

The next MSP will be held from 27 November to 1 December 2023 at the UN Headquarters in New York and chaired by Mexico; the third MSP will then be presided over by Kazakhstan.