The Pacific island nation of Tuvalu ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on 13 October 2020, becoming the 47th nation in the world to do so. Only three more ratifications are now needed to bring this crucial treaty into force. The treaty will establish a comprehensive ban on the worst weapons of mass destruction and help pave the way to their total elimination.

Earlier this month, Tuvalu and 11 other Pacific small island developing states delivered a joint statement to the United Nations on the occasion of the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. They noted that their region has suffered from the effects of decades of nuclear testing by the United States, the United Kingdom and France.

“More than 300 nuclear tests were carried out in the Pacific from 1946 to 1996 – in the atmosphere, underground and underwater. Our communities living close to ground zero were relocated from their ancestral islands and restricted from using the ocean resources for their livelihoods, and they faced an increase in related health problems,” they said.

The 12 nations appealed to all nations that have not yet done so to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, as well as the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty of 1996. “We Pacific small island developing states say no to nuclear weapons, and we reiterate our commitment to the elimination of nuclear weapons everywhere.”

Tuvalu is the ninth Pacific island nation to join the nuclear weapon ban treaty so far, following Palau, New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Samoa, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Fiji and Niue. In addition, Nauru has signed but not yet ratified the treaty.

Tuvalu was among the first nations to sign the treaty when it opened for signature on 20 September 2017. In an address to the United Nations following the signing ceremony, it said: “It is our fervent hope that nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction … are totally banned and prohibited worldwide by the UN.”

In 2016, Tuvalu co-sponsored the UN General Assembly resolution that established the formal mandate for states to commence the negotiations in 2017 on “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”.

Earlier in 2016, Tuvalu, together with Fiji, Nauru, Palau and Samoa, submitted a working paper to a UN working group in Geneva arguing that “the debate should no longer be about whether a global ban on nuclear weapons is necessary, but rather how we can achieve it and what provisions it should contain”.