The NPT Review Conference III: Reporting and Transparency

The centrality of transparency in nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament was acknowledged and even advanced at the 2010 Review Conerence.

When the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was indefinitely extended in 1995, the agreement included a collective commitment by States Parties to strengthen the Treaty’s review process. States called in particular for a heightened acknowledgement of mutual accountability for actions taken, or not taken, in support of the implementation of the Treaty and the furtherance of it aims and objectives.

Then, in 2000, that such accountability would be advanced by the adoption of a more formalized approach to reporting by each State Party to its Treaty partners. There was a call for regular reports, providing information on the actions taken and policies followed to meet the requirements of the Treaty and to implement additional measures agreed to in the review process.

The framers of the reporting obligation understood reporting―as they understood the review process itself―to be a potential prod to more effective pursuit of nuclear disarmament. The 2010 Review Conference reaffirmed and recommitted to the reporting provision from 2000 – a matter of more significant than one might think, given the fact that a main feature of the 2005 was the repudiation by the United States in particular of the commitments made in 2000.

So the primary reference to reporting in the 2010 Action Plan is a repetition of the 2000 agreement:[i]

“States Parties should submit regular reports, within the framework of the strengthened review process for the Treaty, on the implementation of this Action Plan, as well as of Article VI, paragraph 4© of the 1995 Decision on ‘Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament’, and the practical steps agreed to in the Final Document of the 2000 NPT Review Conference, and recalling the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice of 8 July 1996” (A20).

To that is added a more specific call for Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) to report:

"As a confidence building measure all the nuclear-weapon States are encouraged to agree as soon as possible on a standard reporting form and to determine appropriate reporting intervals for the purpose of voluntarily providing standard information without prejudice to national security. The Secretary-General is invited to establish a publicly-accessible repository which shall included the information provided by the nuclear-weappons states” (A21).

At first the NWS were reluctant to submit formal reports – that is, they were reluctant to accept the fact that they are accountable to all States Parties for action taken, or not taken, to meet their obligations under Article VI of the Treaty. However, there are signs of that resistance is breaking down. China and Russia reported formally in 2005 and did so again in 2010.[ii] The United States also reported, but still refused to acknowledge its paper as a report under the reporting provision. Instead it referred to its document as “United States information pertaining to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.”[iii]

Transparency and accountability linked to the NPT are but a means to another end – but it is also true that without openness and accountability very little progress will be made on the substantive disarmament measures that are called for in the 2010 final document.


[i] The final document as approved (NPT/Conf.2010/L.2) is available from Reaching Critical Will at:

[ii] Documents NPT/CONF.2010/31 and NPT/CONF.2010/28 respectively.

The opinions expressed in this article/multimedia are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of CIGI or its Board of Directors.