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Working Paper “Hope Becomes Law: The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in the Asia Pacific Region” presented to “The 75th Anniversary Nagasaki Nuclear-Pandemic Nexus Scenario Project” published

It is published simultaneously by RECNA-Nagasaki University, Asia Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (APLN), and Nautilus Institute and is published under a 4.0 International Creative Commons License the terms of which are found here.

Hope Becomes Law:
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in the Asia Pacific Region
Richard Tanter
A Working Paper presented to
The 75th Anniversary Nagasaki Nuclear-Pandemic Nexus Scenario Project

About the Author

Richard Tanter is a Senior Research Associate at the Nautilus Institute and teaches international relations at the University of Melbourne. He is immediate past president of the Australian board of the International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).


The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will enter into force in January 2021, but has a long way to go towards institutionalisation and its intended impact on the dominant presumption of legitimacy and utility of nuclear weapons. Dialogue on the treaty on the treaty in the Asia-Pacific region faces a suite of issues regarding movement of the treaty towards institutionalisation as a regime. The effectiveness of regional dialogues will be affected by the following:

• the TPNW as rebellion against global nuclear hegemony;
• decisions regarding proposals of basing dialogue about the TPNW on a claimed primacy of the Non-Proliferation Treaty;
• debates about the path forward: stigmatisation vs. devaluing and delegitimating nuclear weapons;
• the critical counterfactual: Can we imagine a Threshold Nuclear Disarming State?
• debates on Nuclear Supporting States and Extended Nuclear Deterrence;
• obstacles to treaty compliance posed by globally distributed systems of nuclear command, control, and communication;
• a universal human interest in having in place by the time a Threshold Nuclear Disarming State appears a comprehensive verification regime which will be ‘fit for purpose’ in the circumstances that will prevail at that point; and the importance of the inclusion of Pacific island states in dialogue about the TPNW.

Full text (PDF) is here.

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