“The NPT [Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons] is an essential pillar of international peace and security, and the heart of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. Its unique status is based on its near universal membership, legally-binding obligations on disarmament, verifiable non-proliferation safeguards regime, and commitment to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.” (António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General)
Besides chemical, biological and radiological weapons,
nuclear weapons constitute one of the categories of weapons of mass
destruction. They are the most destructive and dangerous weapons on earth. Because of the threat posed by
not only the use but also the very existence of such weapons, a broad range of
initiatives, multilateral treaties and other normative instruments have been
established to reduce the number of nuclear weapons and prevent their
proliferation with the ultimate goal of leading to their total elimination.
Some of these include the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT), the 1968 Treaty
on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the 1996 Comprehensive
Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), various agreements establishing
nuclear-weapon-free zones, and most recently the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition
of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). Despite such international efforts, as of 2023, it
is estimated that the number of nuclear weapons held in stockpiles around the
world remains at around 13,000.
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which opened for signature on 1 July 1968 and entered into force on 5 March 1970, embodies the international community’s efforts to prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, and to cooperate in achieving a world free of these weapons. It also facilitates States’ pursuit of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, and through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), established an extensive verification regime to ensure that non-nuclear-weapon States are in compliance with their obligations not to develop or obtain nuclear weapons. A landmark treaty of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime, the NPT currently counts 191 States Parties and 93 signatory States, making it one of the world’s most widely adhered-to treaties.
According to the provisions of the Treaty, a review of its operation should be conducted every five years, as concluded at the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference. The next Review Conference in 2026 will be preceded by three planned sessions convened by the Preparatory Committee. The first of these sessions is scheduled from 31 July to 11 August 2023 in Vienna, in which States Parties to the Treaty will address substantive and procedural issues related to the Treaty and the forthcoming Review Conference.
This short course provides an
introduction to the disarmament machinery and provides an overview of the
purpose, provisions and status of the NPT. It also presents the work of
two international organizations with a key role in the Treaty’s implementation:
the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with its safeguards mechanism and
the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) that undertakes secretariat support to the NPT review process.
Course level: Introductory
Objectives and Learning Outcomes:
Upon completion of this course, you will be able to:
List of themes covered:
All participants successfully completing the training course will receive an official Certificate of Completion
The course is available in English and is held in the Disarmament Education Dashboard, thus participants need a computer or mobile device, with audio and reliable internet connection. No special software is required.
Expected time commitment
Course schedule: July 31, 2023