Statement by the Pacific Islands Forum on the
International Day for the Total Elimination of nuclear weapons
on 26 September 2022
(Submitted for the UN High-level plenary meeting to commemorate and promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons – General Assembly, 77th session)
ALSO SEE THE KIRIBATI STATEMENT
Mr President, Excellencies. Warm Pacific Greetings to you all.
I have the honour of delivering this statement on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum as we join the commemoration of this very important day, the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.
Indeed, nuclear weapons continue to threaten and overshadow the peace and security of our globe. Seventy-six years on, we are still calling for the elimination of “atomic weapons and all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction”.
This year, 2022, began with much promise when we received in January the Joint Statement by the Leaders of the Five Nuclear-Weapon States on Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Race.
Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine took place only days later with unacceptable nuclear threats being made by President Putin and his Government. Further, 9 States still possess between them approximately 13,000 nuclear weapons, many of which are on high operational alert.
We therefore are disappointed that the quinquennial 10th Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (‘NPT’) did not deliver agreed outcomes. However, we continue to uphold, and preserve confidence in, the NPT regime in our pursuit towards full disarmament, non-proliferation, and the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
We note the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and the Vienna Action Plan resulting from the first Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
We welcomed activities marking the 25th Anniversary of the Opening for Signature of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, including Tuvalu’s ratification of the Treaty, and remain in high anticipation of its entry into force in the not-too-distant future.
The South Pacific Nuclear-Free Zone Treaty (the ‘Treaty of Rarotonga’), is our proud contribution to non-proliferation and elimination of nuclear weapons. Under the auspices of the NPT, the Treaty of Rarotonga established legally binding commitments on its States Parties not to manufacture or otherwise acquire, possess or have control over any nuclear explosive device by any means anywhere inside or outside the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone..
Our 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent depends on a safe and peaceful world. It is in this spirit of peace and harmony that the founding Fathers of the Pacific Islands Forum and the framers of the Treaty of Rarotonga were “[c]onvinced that all countries have an obligation to make every effort to achieve the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons”.
Excellencies, our nuclear testing legacy clearly teaches us that we must take all precautions when it comes to nuclear safety. This is even more critical today where the risks of nuclear accidents will heighten with more frequent disasters and the climate crisis.
At their 51st Annual Meeting this year, Forum Leaders reiterated their strong concerns for the significance of the potential threat of nuclear contamination to the health and security of the Blue Pacific, its people and prosperity.
We emphasise the critical need to re-look at nuclear safety in the context of climate change and disasters, particularly their impacts on small island nations, and we invite the international community to join us in pursuing the highest standards of nuclear safety through international consultation, international law, and independent and verifiable scientific assessments, including in relation to plans to release treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean.
Mr. President, Excellencies, let me remind everyone that our Blue Pacific Continent is not a dumping ground for nuclear wastes. As espoused under our Treaty of Rarotonga, we remain determined for a region free of environmental pollution by radioactive wastes and other radioactive matter.
These are even more important considering the transboundary and transgenerational nature of nuclear waste discharge. As states parties to UNCLOS, we must adhere to our legal obligations to protect and preserve the marine environment.
Thus, as regards the third pillar of the NPT, we call on all states to promote and strive for higher standards of nuclear safety to protect all populations and environments.
This is what total nuclear elimination means to the Blue Pacific. As a nuclear-free zone, we strongly emphasise disarmament, non-proliferation, as well as the absolute need for accelerated actions and standards towards nuclear safety.
I thank you. –ENDS
Submitted in writing.
 See Report of the first Meeting of States Parties on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW/MSP/20/26) Annex I, Declaration of the first Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of nuclear weapons, Paragraph 6,
 Preamble, South Pacific Nuclear Freezone Treaty
 Preamble, South Pacific Nuclear Freezone Treaty
 Article 192, UNCLOS