The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) entered into force on January 2021, but has a long way to go towards institutionalisation and its intended impact on the dominant presumption of the legitimacy of nuclear weapons. Dialogue 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 ability of the proponents of the TPNW to overcome the restrictions of the partialism of existing international law on nuclear weapons;
* 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. 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;
* the importance of the inclusion of Pacific island states in Asia-Pacific dialogue to enhance understanding of nuclear testing impacts; and
* seeing the current global pandemic as a stress test indicating the importance of eliminating nuclear weapons before the full impact of climate disruption reshapes global patterns of conflict.