South America becomes world’s first nuclear weapon-free zone

South America becomes first nuclear weapon-free zone

South America becomes first nuclear weapon-free zone Image - Guatemala Gov

Guatemala signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) making South America the first nuclear-weapon-free zone.

Mario Búcaro, Guatemala’s Foreign Minister deposited the country’s instrument of ratification with the UN secretary-general at an event in New York on 13 June making it the 62nd country to do so.

Accompanying him were ambassadors from other Central American countries, all of which have already ratified the TPNW. 

Guatemala, one of seven vocal supporters of the agreement proposed at a meeting in Geneva in 2016, proposed an important amendment to the group’s final report that strengthened a recommendation to proceed with negotiations on “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons” in 2017.

Guatemala had hailed the TPNW’s adoption as: “An important step towards a world free of nuclear weapons,” adding that “Collective security can only be achieved through the prohibition and total elimination of nuclear weapons.”

Búcaro said the TPNW’s global entry into force represented: “A firm step that legally obliges the elimination of nuclear weapons,” after the Guatemalan Congress approved ratification of the treaty on 2 March 2022.

María Eugenia Villareal, an academic and campaigner based in Guatemala who represents the Latin American Human Security Network (SEHLAC) on ICAN’s international steering group, congratulated Guatemala and all other Central American states on this historic milestone.

Villareal said: “I am overjoyed that Central America has become the first entire region to join the TPNW,

“The states of this region are leading the way to a nuclear-weapon-free world. Bravo! Nuclear weapons are a global menace. They must be totally abolished.”

The news that South America has become the first nuclear-weapon-free zone comes at an important time when the events in Ukraine could, many believe, see the first use of nuclear weapons in Europe.

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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at