A total of 94 countries participated in the Second Meeting of States Parties (MSP) to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which took place from 27 November to 1 December 2023 at the UN Headquarters in New York, presided by Dr. Juan Ramón de la Fuente of Mexico. There was a strong presence of UN agencies, international organizations, and global civil society, including a delegation from SGI.
Through interactive discussions during the week, States Parties to the TPNW reaffirmed their commitments to continue making progress on their obligations under the treaty and adopted a political declaration and package of decisions on the final day. Highlights of the meeting include the report by the Scientific Advisory Group—the first of its kind created by a UN treaty on nuclear disarmament—and the establishment of an intersessional consultative process on security concerns of States under the TPNW to “challenge the security paradigm based on nuclear deterrence.”
Centering the Voices of Affected Communities
As with the previous meetings, such as the first MSP and the negotiating conferences of the TPNW, voices of those from affected communities were highlighted throughout the week. In addition to the survivors of the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the meeting witnessed a high number of participants who are from places deeply affected by nuclear testing, such as Kazakhstan and the Pacific Islands. Many of them shared their stories during the plenary, as well as at side events and other related activities. Their testimonies provided the most compelling rationale for nuclear disarmament and implementation of the treaty, including its obligations for universalization, victim assistance and environmental remediation.
One such event was “I Want to Live On—Documentary Film Premiere & Discussion” held on 28 November and co-organized by the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Center for International Security and Policy (CISP), International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, and SGI. Following opening remarks by Arman Baissuanov, Director of the Department for International Security of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan; Hirotsugu Terasaki, SGI Director General of Peace and Global Issues; and Alimzhan Akhmetov, CISP Director; the audience had an opportunity to watch the documentary “I Want To Live On: The Untold Stories of the Polygon”, produced by CISP with the support of SGI. The film sheds light on the Semipalatinsk Test Site, also known as the “Polygon,” which served as the Soviet Union’s primary nuclear test site until 1991.
After the premiere of the documentary, Aigerim Yelgeldy, who is the third generation in her family to be impacted by nuclear tests at the Polygon, took the floor to share her testimony. She shared her continuous struggle with cancer over the last eight years, which have caused her to limit herself in many ways, including compelling her to not have children for the fear that they would experience the same suffering. She said, “Having experienced all the hardships associated with cancer, I strive to support all those who also face this problem.”
SGI also supported the exhibition “Portraits of the Hibakusha—80 Years Remembered” at the UN, featuring holographic portraits of the survivors of atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, created by 80,000 Voices and sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN.
Uplifting the voices and experiences of those from affected communities is critical, not only to emphasize the importance of the treaty and encourage states to join, but also to advocate for assisting victims and addressing environmental damages, which are enshrined in Articles 6 and 7 of the TPNW. During the second MSP, participating States Parties confirmed the importance of their obligations under the Articles, committed to voluntarily report on their progress, and progress the discussions on the international trust fund to address such needs toward the next MSP.
Voices of Youth and Faith Communities
Demonstrating the TPNW States Parties’ aspirations for inclusivity, members of civil society were able to participate in the ongoing discussions at the plenary sessions by delivering statements and taking part in panels during thematic discussions. Many of the participants were youth, who led and participated in a number of events and engaged in conversations with government representatives. The SGI delegation also included four youth members, who participated in the Youth MSP organized by the Youth for TPNW on 28 November. SGI also endorsed the joint youth statement delivered on 29 November, with some of its youth delegates contributing to the drafting process.
Amelia Gonzales of SGI-USA, who joined the SGI delegation, shared her impression of participating in the MSP and expressed the need for spaces where young people can learn more about nuclear weapons and realize that it is not something far removed from their daily lives.
Other stakeholders present at the MSP included representatives of faith communities, who stressed the moral and ethical imperative for nuclear abolition. SGI helped coordinate the joint interfaith statement endorsed by 115 organizations from a wide range of faith traditions, and Anna Ikeda of SGI delivered the statement during the general exchange of views, declaring that "a world without nuclear weapons is not only possible, but that a nuclear-free future is already being made.” Some representatives of SGI also participated in the interfaith vigil held the morning of 29 November, where participants gathered to offer prayers for the success of the MSP and the goal of a world without nuclear weapons.
SGI representatives also attended the “Celebration of Eucharist for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons on the 43rd anniversary of the death of Dorothy Day” on 29 November, where Archbishop John C. Wester of Santa Fe delivered a sermon, as well as the side event “The Role of Strategic Partnership Between Faith Actors and ICAN in Universalizing the TPNW for Sustainable Peace, Justice and Development” held on 30 November.
Role of Peace and Disarmament Education
Prior to the MSP, SGI submitted a working paper titled “The Role of Peace and Disarmament Education in Advancing the Vienna Action Plan.” Based on the paper, Chie Sunada of SGI delivered a statement during the segment on Article 12, highlighting the role of education in advancing the universalization of the treaty. The working paper, noting the importance of awareness raising, states, the “TPNW was negotiated and adopted in response to the deep concerns for the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences of nuclear weapons, as well as the strong wishes of hibakusha and affected communities for nuclear abolition; therefore, highlighting such concerns remains the central part of the universalization and implementation of the Treaty.”
Several States also highlighted the role of education in their statements throughout the week, including Chile, which addressed the importance of education in universalization efforts—especially in regional contexts—to increase the number of ratifications.
During the week, several States announced their intentions to join the Treaty in the near future, including Brazil, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Indonesia, Mozambique and Nepal. With the ongoing efforts for universalization, it is expected that the number of the Treaty’s supporters will soon reach more than half of all UN members.
The Third Meeting of States Parties will take place 3–7 March 2025 in New York, with Kazakhstan as its President.
States Parties will continue their work in their working groups during the intersession period. SGI will remain committed to supporting such efforts through its initiatives, including its work on peace and disarmament education and highlighting and uplifting the voices of those affected by the use and testing of nuclear weapons.
I Want To Live On: The Untold Stories of the Polygon - Documentary Film about the Semipalatinsk Test Site
Faith Communities Concerned about Nuclear Weapons | Statements