United Nations, Vienna, the site of the 2023 NPT Preparatory Committee

Team NAPF has been attending the meetings of the 2023 NPT Preparatory Committee, held in Veinna, July 31-August 11. Dr. Ivana Nikolić Hughes, our President, and Christian Ciobanu, our Policy and Advocacy Coordinator, along with a fantastic team of seven interns (Harris Agha – Williams College, Jeanne Aublin – McGill University, Chloe Fromigue – McGill University, Ryan Rowe – Wellesley College, James Spindler – Colby College, Elias Taouli – Lycée Francaise de New York, and Grahm Tuohy-Gaydos – Williams College) have been busy educating and advocating for nuclear disarmament in this forum in a variety of ways.

During the civil society session of the committee on August 2, Dr. Hughes delivered a statement on behalf of NAPF, focusing on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and laying the case for nuclear disarmament and nuclear abolition. Dr. Hughes urged all nuclear weapon states to sign the TPNW to signal their seriousness in addressing this issue and all non-nuclear weapon states to join the treaty and to say with “one clear voice that enough is enough.” She reminded the delegates that “Our children and grandchildren deserve a future.” You can read Dr. Hughes’s statement HERE and watch it below.

Dr. Ivana Nikolić Hughes delivering the NAPF Statement at the NGO session

During the same session, Ryan Rowe and Harris Agha delivered the youth statement on behalf of our youth initiative Reverse the Trend (RTT) and NAPF, respectively. The youth statement focused on the need for a nuclear weapons world, enabled by the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and the role of youth in discourse and decision-making. We are very proud of Harris and Ryan for delivering a powerful statement. You can watch their statement below.

Ryan Rowe (left) and Harris Agha (right) delivering the Youth Statement at the NGO session

One of the features of meetings such as the NPT Preparatory Committee is that in addition to sessions where states and civil society give statements and present their views, there are also side events taking place throughout the conference. NAPF team organized two such side events and participated in and attended numerous other side events.

Our first side event, on Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons was hosted by the Republics of Kazakhstan and Kiribati and co-sponsored by our partner the Marshallese Educational Initiative. At this event, Ambassador Teburoro Tito of Kiribati, spoke about the experience of his country and his people with nuclear testing conducted by the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the need for a nuclear weapons free world. Jangeldy Syrimbet, Counsellor to the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the United Nations discussed the role of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, particularly its humanitarian provisions, and the experience of Kazakhstan with Soviet nuclear testing. Benetick Kabua-Maddison, the Executive Director of the Marshallese Educational Initiative, shared a touching testimony about his family connections to the enduring legacy of US nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands. Dr. Ivana Hughes focused her remarks on past, present, and future consequences of nuclear weapons, highlighting the disproportionate impact of radiation on women and girls, the persistence of environmental contamination in the Marshall Islands, and future consequences of nuclear war, including nuclear famine and nuclear winter. Finally, Dr. Becky Alexis-Martin offered remarks on epistemic justice and nuclear testing in the Pacific via video. The event was very well attended and all of the remarks were exceedingly well received.

Panelists at our side event on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons: Ivana Nikolić Hughes, Jangeldy Syrimbet (Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan), Christian Ciobanu, Ambassador Teburoro Tito (Republic of Kiribati), Benetick Kabua-Maddison (Marshallese Educational Initiative)

Our second side event focused on the activities of our youth initiative RTT and the role that youth can play in nuclear disarmament activism, particularly through art. Panelists at this event were: Marcina Langrine (Marshallese Educational Initiative), Ambassador Teburoro Tito (Republic of Kiribati), Benetick Kabua Maddison, Rooj Ali (RTT), and Yuumi Sato (Hiroshima Organization for Global Peace). All shared inspiring stories of art-based activism and engagement and stressed the importance of including the younger generation in nuclear abolition discourse.

Panelists (left to right): Benetick Kabua Maddison and Marcina Langrine (MEI), Ambassador Teburoro Tito, Yuumi Sato (HOPe) with Christian Ciobanu, who moderated the discussion, and Rooj Ali who participated virtually.

Artwork displayed during the event by Marcina Langrine (MEI)

In addition, Dr. Ivana Hughes presented at two other side events, one organized by People for Nuclear Disarmament and Abolition 2000 (on August 1) and one organized by Soka Gakkai International, with NAPF and Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament as the co-sponsors (on August 3). Both of these side events focused on risk reduction measures, such as no first use policies, exploring whether and how such measures could enhance and support nuclear disarmament. At both events, Dr. Hughes highlighted the unacceptable level of risk that nuclear weapons currently pose to all of humanity and stressed the importance of getting all the way to zero risk and zero nuclear weapons, as well as the role that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has to play in getting us there.

Panelists at the Abolition 2000 side event on August 1: Ivana Nikolić Hughes (center) with John Hallam (PND and Abolition 2000, left) and Allyn Ware (No First Use Global and Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament, right)

Panelists at the SGI side event on August 3 (left to right): Ivana Nikolić Hughes, Nikolai Sokov (Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation), Christine Muttonen (Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament), and Chie Sunada (SGI, moderator).

Throughout the conference, our youth initiative RTT held an exhibit outside of the plenary room, displaying artwork produced at a workshop in Nagasaki prior to the G7 Forum in Hiroshima, when a team of young people from all around the world traveled to Japan. Finally, the NAPF team attended numerous other side events, learning from diplomats and other representatives of civil society organizations. We also met with several delegations, including the United States delegation, to learn about their views and to urge them to change the status quo. Additionally, Dr. Hughes participated in a full day in-person meeting of the Scientific Advisory Group to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), whose work in preparation for the Second Meeeting of States Parties to the TPNW is advancing apace.

RTT art exhibit displayed outside of the NPT Preparatory Committee plenary room.

Team NAPF with one of the youth paintings.

Harris Agha and Chole Fromigue in the plenary room

Meeting with the US delegation to the NPT Preparatory Committee

Audience at our side event on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons

Ivana Nikolić Hughes with Carlos Umana (IPPNW) at the NGO session of the conference (photo credit Lucero Oyarzun)

Amidst all of the hard work, our team also had a chance to spend time together and to enjoy some of what the beautiful city of Vienna has to offer. We are all grateful to our generous donors for the opportunity to contribute in such meaningful ways to the cause of nuclear disarmament and abolition. These issues are more important than ever and we will continue to pursue them until the last warhead is dismantled.

Team NAPF with Benetick Kabua Maddison (MEI)

With Marcina Langrine (MEI) and Ambassador Tito (Republic of Kiribati)

On the riverfront of the Danube in Vienna

To read about the end of the NPT Preparatory Committee, please see HERE.