The establishment of Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones (NWFZs) is a regional approach to strengthen global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament norms and consolidate international efforts towards peace and security. Article VII of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Weapons (NPT) states: “Nothing in this Treaty affects the right of any group of States to conclude regional treaties in order to assure the total absence of nuclear weapons in their respective territories”.
General Assembly resolution 3472 (XXX) B (1975) defines a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone as “…any zone recognized as such by the General Assembly of the United Nations, which any group of States, in the free exercises of their sovereignty, has established by virtue of a treaty or convention whereby:
(a) The statute of total absence of nuclear weapons to which the zone shall be subject, including the procedure for the delimitation of the zone, is defined;
(b) An international system of verification and control is established to guarantee compliance with the obligations deriving from that statute”.
In Securing our Common Future: An Agenda for Disarmament, the Secretary-General recognizes the importance of nuclear-weapon-free zones in assisting the international community in preparing for a world free of nuclear weapons. In order to implement the Agenda, the Secretary-General and the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs are working with Member States to strengthen and consolidate nuclear-weapon-free zones, including by facilitating enhanced cooperation and consultation between existing zones, encouraging nuclear-weapon States to adhere to the relevant protocols to the treaties establishing such zones, and supporting the further establishment of such zones, including in the Middle East (Action 5 of the Agenda).