Celebrating Caribbean leadership!
19-20 June 2020 marks the one-year anniversary of the Caribbean Forum on the TPNW
“Like all Small Island Developing States, we view the prospects of a nuclear detonation, whether by design, accident or negligence, as an existential horror that could decimate the entire Caribbean region.”
Shorna-Kay Richards, former Deputy Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the United Nations.
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) was adopted on 7 July 2017 at the United Nations, with the support of 122 states, including 12 of the 14 CARICOM states. The Treaty was negotiated in response to the concern of the international community on the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from any use of nuclear weapons.
The Caribbean region has “long advocated for a holistic approach to addressing matters of peace and security, recognizing fully the intrinsic link between peace, security and development”. This approach was reflected in the positions taken by CARICOM and its member states during the negotiation of the TPNW. In an intervention during the March 2017 TPNW negotiations, CARICOM called for the future treaty to include “positive provisions that address human and environmental harms, recognize rights and offer remedial measures to victims. These provisions should include environmental remediation, risk education, victim/survivor assistance and stockpile destruction.” These elements were ultimately included in the TPNW, reflecting the engagement and influence of CARICOM member states in the process.
In addition to actively participating in intergovernmental conferences on nuclear weapons, CARICOM states have long worked with civil society to prohibit nuclear weapons, including participation in briefing meetings, working sessions, bilateral meetings and of course regional forums, including last year’s seminal Caribbean Regional Forum on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
The forum was held on 19 and 20 June 2019 in Georgetown, Guyana, convened by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Guyana under the leadership of Ambassador Torrington, Soka Gakkai International (SGI) and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). It was held in order to take stock of the Treaty from a regional perspective, and to canvas progress for the early signature and ratification by all countries in the region. The Forum was attended by representatives from 10 countries out of the 14 CARICOM member states, as well as representatives from civil society and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
At the Forum, participants exchanged their views on various topics, including the scope of the Treaty, its relevance to the region, how the Treaty relates to other disarmament treaties, gender and race perspectives, environmental consequences of nuclear weapons and procedures for becoming a state party.
Government representatives at the Forum reiterated their commitment to work toward the early entry into force of the TPNW. The Forum was addressed by Mr. Carl B. Greenidge, Foreign Secretary of Guyana, as well as Dr. Karen Cummings, Foreign Minister of Guyana. It concluded successfully with the adoption of the Georgetown Statement, part of which reads:
“Caribbean states have to maintain the leadership role they played in the negotiation with action by adding their voice, their vote and their signature and/or ratification to the global effort to strengthen the norm against these inhumane weapons and to increase their stigmatization,”
To celebrate efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons, SGI, supported by ICAN, has produced this animated graphic. It illustrates CARICOM member states’ unparalleled increase of signatures and ratifications of the TPNW since its adoption. This willingness to lead in relation to the TPNW has positioned the Caribbean as one of the regions leading the world against the threat of nuclear weapons.
To date, the following CARICOM states have become state parties of the TPNW: Guyana, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, and Belize. Signatories of the TPNW are Jamaica, Grenada, and Saint Kitts and Nevis, who are currently working on their ratification processes. In order for the TPNW to enter into force, it needs 50 countries to ratify it; currently, it has 38.
By the majority of the Caribbean Community signing and ratifying the TPNW, the region has shown its strong support for the TPNW and incredible leadership on the global stage. It’s time now for all Caribbean nations to join the TPNW.
For more resources on the Caribbean and the TPNW visit:
- The animated graphic (Available on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram)
- Remarks at Opening Ceremony of Caribbean Regional Forum on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) by Carl B. Greenidge, Foreign Secretary of the Government of Guyana
- Remarks Delivered by Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Dr. Karen Cummings at the Welcome Reception for the Participants in the Caribbean Regional Forum on the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
- Briefing paper: Advancing the TPNW – The Role of CARICOM
- Briefing paper: A Social Injustice–Race, Gender and Nuclear Weapons
- Caribbean nations rally behind UN nuclear weapon ban treaty (ICAN)
- Caribbean States Vow to Facilitate Swift Entry into Force of Nuclear Ban Treaty (InDepth News)