Caribbean counterparts meet on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Treaty
Caribbean counterparts met on Wednesday at a forum with Guyana International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) organisation to hold discussions in upholding the conditions of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).
The ICAN recognises the pivotal role Caricom played in the establishment of the treaty and as a result, consultations with the Caribbean counterparts are vital. ICAN won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 for this initiative.
Treaty Coordinator of ICAN, Celine Nahory in her statement at the forum, which was held at the Ramada Princess Hotel on Wednesday, said that the use of nuclear weapons is on the rise and as a result, can have severe consequences on humanity.
In this regard, she noted that all treaty members have a role to play in achieving the goals of the treaty. She urged member states to “open their eyes” to the destructions being caused by the use of nuclear weapons while adding that the treaty has over 100 members in more than 500 organisations and this speaks volume for this treaty.
According to Nahory, the prohibition treaty is vibrant in upkeeping humanitarian law and preventing the disastrous consequences that these destructive weapons can have on humanity. Nahory pointed out that the treaty changes the status quo while noting that ICAN will continue in its efforts to work toward completely eliminating the possession and use of these weapons. She added that each Caribbean counterpart has led an active role in the participation of the development of the treaty and she expressed gratitude to Guyana for hosting such an event which is not only timely but will also aid in the establishment of some very important initiatives.
Meanwhile, in his address at the opening ceremony of the forum, Foreign Secretary Carl Greenidge highlighted that Guyana was the first member state to sign and ratify the treaty when it opened for signatures in 2017. He said this decision to both sign and ratify the treaty was rooted in the firm conviction that the total elimination of nuclear weapons is dependent not just on words but more importantly on actions in fulfilment of our common obligation to work for the maintenance of international peace and security. He pointed out that several studies have shown the detrimental effects of radiation from nuclear testing yet these persist. “These are the realities that TPNW addresses. These are the threats that the TPNW confronts,” he said.
Guyana, as a ratification of the TPNW, as a non-nuclear weapon state. This is a demonstration that the continued existence of nuclear weapons requires action by all given the indiscriminate and unparalleled destruction that they cause, the existentialist threat that they pose and the level of insecurity they create.
Greenidge noted that nuclear disarmament concerns us as a region and as a result, members have the opportunity to take this agenda forward. He urged members that during the two days of deliberations, the opportunity should be used to ventilate the TPNW issues individual counties are faced with.
Greenidge, in his address, noted that the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) reported that to date, over two thousand (2000) nuclear tests have been conducted. “That is two thousand (2000) too many,” he said. UNODA also reported that the world still has over fourteen thousand (14,000) active nuclear weapons. “That is fourteen thousand (14,000) too many. Nuclear weapons provide only a false sense of security to those who possess them while simultaneously provoking fear and anxiety at the prospect of these weapons being used,” Greenidge stated.
He further stated that Guyana is of the view that the nuclear disarmament architecture provides an ample framework to bring us to a more critical understanding that we need to take at this critical juncture. In this regard, he said Guyana shares the view of many other Caricom member states of the reduction in overall stockpiles of all types of nuclear weapons and reduction in the role and significance of nuclear weapons in military concepts, doctrines and policies. Additionally, he stated that measures to build confidence in mutual trust and increased transparency in nuclear system programmes are among the critical elements that need to be addressed.
Guyana, Brazil and Chile are among more than 50 countries that have signed a new treaty banning the use, development, testing or storing of nuclear weapons under any circumstances.
The world’s first legally-binding treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons opened for signature in 2017 with President David Granger signing the treaty Guyana’s behalf.