We Just Banned Nuclear Weapons!
History was made at the United Nations today when the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted by an overwhelming 122-1 vote by UN Member States determined to provide a legal basis for the elimination of the world’s worst weapons of mass destruction.
The ban treaty, negotiated by more than 140 states under the auspices of the UN General Assembly, prohibits development, testing, production, manufacture, acquisition, possession, stockpiling, use, and threat of use of nuclear weapons, and provides flexible pathways for nuclear-armed and nuclear-dependent states to comply with the prohibitions once they decide to join.
Conference president Elayne Whyte, in submtting the final text for the vote, said we were here “to give life to a new treaty that…seeks to bring together the world around the dream of each and every person to see a world free of nuclear weapons.”
The treaty will open for signature on September 20 at the UN, and will enter into force once 50 states have ratified it.
“This is a landmark achievement that establishes the illegality of nuclear weapons once and for all,” said IPPNW Co-President Tilman Ruff. “The Treaty is rooted firmly in the humanitarian principle that the consequences of nuclear weapons use are unacceptable under any circumstances and that any use of nuclear weapons would be contrary to the rules of international humanitarian law.”
“The nine nuclear-armed states, which refused to participate in these negotiations, are now faced with a stark choice,” said IPPNW program director John Loretz. “They can comply with the norms that have been clearly and unambiguously established by the Treaty and eliminate their nuclear weapons, as they should have done decades ago, or they will be stigmatized as outlaw states.
“The states that base their security on the nuclear weapons possessed by other states can either withdraw from extended nuclear deterrence arrangements and cease all military planning and preparation for the use of nuclear weapons, or face similar global condemnation.”
As the founder and lead medical partner in ICAN—the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons—IPPNW was an active civil society participant in the negotiations for the Treaty, working to ensure that the final document would fully reflect the scientific evidence about the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons.
“The treaty recognizes the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that concern the security of all humanity, posing grave implications for human survival, the environment, food security, and the health of future generations, said Dr. Ruff. “It also recognizes that these consequences cannot be adequately addressed, and must be prevented.”
“We are very pleased that the treaty recognizes the victims of nuclear weapons,” Dr. Ruff noted. The preamble refers explicitly to the Hibakusha—the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki—and to indigenous peoples who have suffered from the effects of nuclear testing. It also acknowledges the disproportionate health impacts of nuclear weapons on women and girls.
“By establishing a clear and comprehensive set of prohibitions, a number of important positive obligations, including obligations to assist victims and help remediate affected environments, and procedures for elimination that can lead to universal membership over time, the treaty provides a powerful legal, moral, and political tool going forward,” Dr. Ruff stated.
“Today, with this historic treaty, the world has changed. The shared interests of humanity underpin this achievement. A nuclear weapons ban can be a game-changer towards fulfilling the urgent global health imperative to eliminate nuclear weapons.”
Above came from International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War