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2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) concludes with a substantive final document

On 28 May 2010, the States parties meeting to review the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) adopted a substantive Final Document, which included a review of the operation of the Treaty prepared at the responsibility of the President as well as an agreed action plan containing forward-looking measures on each of the three pillars of the Treaty – nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy – and on the Middle East and other regional issues, particularly implementation of the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East.

NPT Review Conference inside General Assembly Hall. UN Photo/Mark Garten
NPT Review Conference inside General Assembly Hall. UN Photo/Mark Garten

One hundred and seventy-two States parties participated in the Conference which took place at the United Nations Headquarters from three to 28 May 2010. There was high level representation, amounting to more than 1300 delegates, reflecting the importance of the NPT. Addressing the opening day of the meeting, the Secretary-General recognised that the NPT should not be considered faultless, but cited the 40-year-old Treaty as a cornerstone of the world’s nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime and declared “We need this regime as much as ever.”

Describing five benchmarks for success, the Secretary-General said real gains towards nuclear disarmament were needed, and he encouraged States to expand on the 13 practical steps set out in the outcome document of the 2000 Review Conference. The Secretary-General was supported by the President of the Conference when he called for concrete steps and urged that the resentment between the NPT member states’ “haves” and the “have-nots” not derail a successful outcome of the Review Conference.

Some 121 NGOs (1155 representatives) participated in the NPT Review conference. In the margins of the Conference, NGOs and others held several events including exhibitions, film screenings, book launches and multiple presentations about the dangers of nuclear weapons. One session of the plenary meeting was devoted to presentations by NGOs to the NPT delegates.

The week-long General Debate was followed by weeks of hard work taking place in three Main Committees and in plenary to examine the implementation of the three pillars of the NPT, namely 1) nuclear disarmament; 2) nuclear non-proliferation; and 3) the peaceful use of nuclear energy, as well as universality of the Treaty.

In an unprecedented move, during the last week of the Conference the Secretary-General wrote a letter to the States parties encouraging them to step up their work with flexibility and in a cooperative spirit, to reach agreement on an outcome document that would contribute to strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime and to advance progress on nuclear disarmament.

After intense negotiations, the States parties concluded the 2010 Conference with a 64-point plan for follow-on actions addressing the three pillars of the Treaty – disarmament, non-proliferation, peaceful uses of nuclear energy – as well as the Middle East and other regional issues, particularly implementation of the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East.

The unanimously adopted outcome document contains steps to guide progress on nuclear disarmament, advance non-proliferation and work towards a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. The Conference resolved that the nuclear-weapon States commit to further efforts to reduce and eliminate all types of deployed and non-deployed nuclear weapons, including through unilateral, bilateral, regional and multilateral measures.

A separate section focused on the Middle East, specifically on implementation of the 1995 Review Conference’s resolution on the Middle East. To that end the final document endorsed the convening of a conference in 2012, to be attended by all States in the Middle East, on the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction, on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at by States in the region.

Presenting the draft, which was concluded as the final document (NPT/CONF.2010/50 (Vol. I)), the President of the Conference, Ambassador Libran Cabactulan,  said the text had been made possible because all delegations had sought to work constructively, and because, he believed, there had been a most urgent desire to achieve a successful outcome for the Review Conference.

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