The NPT is the cornerstone of the international nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament regime. It consists of a preamble and eleven articles and its objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament. These aims constitute the well-acknowledged three pillars of NPT. The Treaty establishes a safeguards system under the responsibility of the IAEA, which also plays a central role under the Treaty in areas of technology transfer for peaceful purposes. The NPT represents the only binding commitment in a multilateral treaty to the goal of disarmament by the nuclear-weapon States.
A testament to the Treaty’s significance is the fact that more countries have ratified the NPT than any other arms limitation and disarmament agreement. The Treaty opened for signature in 1968 and entered into force in 1970. On 11 May 1995, the Treaty was extended indefinitely. A total of 191 States have joined the Treaty, including the five nuclear-weapon States. Estonia joined the Treaty on 31 January 1992.
The treaty is reviewed in every five years in meetings called Review Conferences of the Parties to the Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The last Review Conference took place in 2015, where despite intensive consultations, the Conference was unable to reach agreement on a substantive part of the draft Final Document. The next Review Conference is foreseen for 2020.
CTBT is one of the most important international treaties in the area of nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation. The CTBT bans nuclear explosions by everyone, everywhere: on the Earth’s surface, in the atmosphere, underwater and underground. The Treaty was opened for signature on 24 September 1996. Estonia signed the Treaty on 20 October 1996 and ratified it on 21 June 1999. Currently 167 countries have signed and ratified the treaty.
The CTBT has not entered into force, because it requires the signature and ratification by 44 specific nuclear technology holder countries, of which 8 – China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the USA – have not yet done so.
To promote the Treaty and to build up the verification regime, the States Signatories to the Treaty also established a new international organization – the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) with headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Until the Treaty enters into force, the organisation is called the Preparatory Commission for the CTBTO.
The Treaty has the mandates of both the United Nations and the NPT Review Conference, however no negotiations have taken place due to lack of consensus at the Conference on Disarmament.
In 2017 and 2018, Estonia tooks part of the high-level fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT) expert preparatory group meetings, with a membership of 25 States, established by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The experts convened to consider and make recommendations on substantial elements of a future treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. A group of governmental experts (GGE), with a slightly different composition, also met in 2014-2015.
ATT is an international treaty that regulates the international trade in conventional arms and seeks to prevent and eradicate illicit trade and diversion of conventional arms by establishing international standards governing arms transfers. The Arms Trade Treaty requires all states parties to adopt basic regulations and approval processes for the flow of weapons across international borders, establishes common international standards that must be met before arms exports are authorized, and requires annual reporting of imports and exports to a treaty secretariat.
The Treaty came into force on 24 December 2014. At this stage the Treaty has a total of 100 States Parties and 135 Signatory States. Estonia signed the Treaty on 3 June 2013, ratified it on 2 April 2014, and submitted its initial report on measures undertaken to implement the Arms Trade Treaty in 2015.
In the last decade, the international community has recognised the need to improve national small arms laws, import/export controls, and stockpile management, as well as to tackle illicit trade and diversion. A number of global, regional and local initiatives have been created. The most important of those is the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (PoA). Another important measure is the International Tracing Instrument (ITI), which requires States to ensure that weapons are properly marked and that records are kept. Moreover, it provides a framework for cooperation in weapons tracing. Meetings and national reports on PoA and ITI are always combined. The latest SALW Review Conference took place in 2018 in New York.