The Hills are Alive with the Sound of… Nuclear Ban Week!

With apologies for the allusion to Julie Andrews singing about the hills of the Austrian Alps, Vienna (rather than Salzburg) will be METO’s de facto home for one week in June, where we will converge with civil society activists, diplomats, government representatives and many other stakeholders from all over the world in the campaign to eliminate nuclear weapons.

In 2017, the text of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) was approved by 122 countries and opened for signature and ratification in September that year. In 2020, the Treaty reached the important milestone of 50 ratifications which triggered the conditions for holding the first ever meeting of states parties, of which there are currently 61. Covid-19 has made it difficult for Austria to host the event before now, but the conditions are now in place to do so.

This meeting of states parties to the TPNW takes place in Vienna from the 21st to the 23rd of June, but is preceded by two events. Firstly, on the weekend of the 18th and 19th of June, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, ICAN, is hosting a civil society forum in person, with many possibilities provided for on-line participation.

Then on Monday 20th, Austria is hosting a stand-alone conference on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons (HINW). This is a follow up to three conferences previously hosted by Norway, Mexico and Austria on the same topic, which directly led to the Treaty of 2017.

Furthermore, young activists from around the world are hosting a parallel youth meeting of states parties and are working together to deliver a strong statement for the official meeting.

METO is going to Vienna mob-handed to participate in this Nuclear Ban Week with a delegation of almost 20 people, including directors, members of our university network and advisors. This is the first time that METO will be able to meet physically together in the same space and we’re very excited and there are still 3 weeks to go!

For METO, this week of activity is an ideal opportunity for us to promote METO and showcase the work we do on the Middle East weapons of mass destruction free-zone (WMDFZ) to diplomats and civil society activists. Although there are currently only 5 countries from the region that have signed the Treaty, implementation of the WMDFZ would bring all 24 countries of the proposed zone into the Treaty as States Parties. Thus METO’s work is important and will be instrumental in making this treaty universally adopted.

During our time in Vienna, METO is hosting a workshop during the ICAN civil society Forum, we will host a couple of hour long sessions during the Youth meeting of states parties, and we are still working on other possibilities for METO to present our work.

For more context about the Treaty, watch this award-winning documentary The Beginning of the End of Nuclear Weapons produced by METO director, Tony Robinson and directed by Spanish filmmaker Álvaro Orús.

Photo credit: ClaraDon on Flickr.