Reflections on the 2019 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Preparatory Committee

The 2019 Preparatory Committee for the 2020 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference (“PrepCom”) was held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City from April 29 to May 10. I had the privilege to join the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA) delegation along with other young professionals and students interested in and working on nuclear issues.

The Non-Proliferation Treaty

The Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is a multilateral treaty with three main goals: (1) to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons (nonproliferation), (2) to support the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and (3) to reduce/eventually eliminate all nuclear weapons (nuclear disarmament). As of 2019, 191 States have joined the NPT and the treaty is regarded as the foundation of nuclear nonproliferation.

2019 PrepCom

NPT Preparatory Committee & Review Conference

Every five years, the countries which are parties of the NPT (also referred to as ‘States Parties’) meet to discuss how to achieve the goals set out in the NPT. The next Review Conference of the States Parties to the NPT (“RevCon”) will be in 2020 – which will be the 50th Anniversary of the Treaty’s entry into force which was in 1970.  In efforts to prepare for RevCon, preparatory meetings are held to coordinate many administrative items such as setting the agenda, electing a RevCon President, and reviewing/approving documents. The 2019 PrepCom was chaired by Ambassador Syed Md Hasrin Syed Hussin of Malaysia. After two weeks of discussions, no recommendation document for the 2019 RevCon was agreed to.

2019 PrepCom Themes

During the 2019 PrepCom, many of the States Parties prepared statements, there were many calls for cooperation at the 2020 RevCon and calls to confirm a chair during the 2019 PrepCom. By the end of the two-week session, the States Parties approved the nomination of Argentina’s Ambassador Rafael Grossi as president of next year’s RevCon. Another theme of the 2019 PrepCom was the use of right of reply. At the end of opening statements, the country representatives had the right of reply to respond to statements made previously in the day. The remarks highlighted the disagreements between several States Parties.

Jordan Hibbs (UNA-National Capital Area) & Carlos Rodriguez-Cruz y Celis (UNA-Dallas)

The 2019 PrepCom showed that the States Parties are taking the NPT review process seriously and are hoping for a positive outcome at the 2020 RevCon. It remains unclear if a consensus outcome for the 2020 RevCon is likely, but based on the discussions at the 2019 PrepCom, there is much emphasis on making this happen.  It was a privilege to serve as a delegate to the 2019 PrepCom with the UNA-USA Delegation and I look forward to following along in 2020 at what will surely be an exciting RevCon.

Read more on the 2019 PrepCom from other UNA-USA Delegates inClosing the Nuclear Gap” by Carlos Rodriguez-Cruz y Celis of UNA-Dallas.

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