Pacific nations beef up anti-nuclear advocacy under Treaty of Rarotonga

Disarmament and Arms Control

Pacific nations  came together yesterday under the auspices of the Treaty of Rarotonga to ramp up diplomatic efforts for nuclear disarmament.

The Treaty of Rarotonga is the Pacific’s nuclear-free zone, and a useful region-wide platform for pushing the anti-nuclear cause, with Minister of Disarmament and Arms Control Phil Twyford taking part in a virtual inaugural meeting of the Treaty’s states parties.

“Next year is a big year for nuclear disarmament, regionally and globally, with the five-yearly Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons coming into force, and growing calls from Pacific leaders for action on dealing with the legacy contamination from nuclear testing,” Phil Twyford said.

Yesterday's meeting, chaired by the Pacific Islands Forum and attended by eleven of the Parties to the Treaty, resolved to activate the Treaty of Rarotonga’s provisions for convening the Consultative Committee, to consider practical means of operationalising the Treaty.

“It is great to see Pacific leaders committed to making sure the region has a strong voice on nuclear disarmament.

We, in New Zealand, are lucky enough to live in a nuclear-free zone - and that’s thanks to the Treaty of Rarotonga. It is one of several treaties that has played an important role in establishing nuclear free zones and denuclearising a number of regions of the world,” Phil Twyford said.

“The security and prosperity of the Pacific, as well as nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, are all important and long-standing New Zealand priorities.  I was pleased to join with my Pacific colleagues in demonstrating our solidarity on these issues and to have the opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to the Treaty of Rarotonga and a world free of nuclear weapons. Disarmament is not a job we can leave to future generations”. 

The Ministerial Meeting follows a 2019 call from Pacific Island Forum Leaders to fully operationalise the Treaty. The meeting provided a platform for Ministers to discuss developments, issues and opportunities relating to the Treaty of Rarotonga, which is now 35 years old.

“Ministers agreed an outcome statement which is a strong reflection of the concerns that we all share regarding regional and global nuclear issues.”

“It brings us closer together as a Blue Pacific region, and makes a strong statement ahead of a busy 2021 in the disarmament space,” Phil Twyford said.