Open lecture

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons:

Challenges for International Law and Security



Dieter Fleck, Former Director International Agreements & Policy, Federal Ministry of Defence, Germany; Member of the Advisory Board of the Amsterdam Center for International Law (ACIL); Rapporteur of the ILA Committee on Nuclear Weapons, Non-Proliferation and Contemporary International Law; Honorary President, International Society for Military Law and the Law of War.

Adoption of the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons [1] on July 7, 2017, (122 votes in favor, one to abstain, one against – no nuclear state was involved) could be understood on the background of existing unsuccessful attempts to implement the disarmament obligations that exist according to the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT); [2] insufficient general application of the NPT; [3] growing concern over the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, which became known in the recent years. [4] Although it is still too early to give a long-term assessment of whether the new Treaty can ultimately contribute to the achievement of the world without nuclear weapons and whether it has the potential to achieve world-wide recognition after a while, a comprehensive assessment of existing legal contradictions, certain textual shortcomings of the new Treaty and the foreseeable consequences for international security is necessary and timely. Lawyers in international law can make a significant contribution to this issue.

The text of the Treaty UN Doc A /CONF.229/2017/8 (July 7,2017), by reference

 [2] The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (July 1, 1968), 729 UNTS. 161. The obligation provided for by Article 6 has three ultimate objectives: the early termination of the nuclear arms race; nuclear disarmament; general and complete disarmament. Each of these goals requires negotiations in good faith and the implementation of measures under strict and effective international control.
[3] The NPT now operates for 191 states, see. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has withdrawn from the NPT; India, Israel and Pakistan have never been participants
[4] See conferences and other follow-up actions on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons,