The very first nuclear weapons ban treaty entered into force, a historic milestone marred by the lack of signatures from the world’s major nuclear powers.
The Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty entered international law on Friday, culminating in a decades-long campaign to prevent a repeat of the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II.
The treaty aims to prohibit the use, development, production, testing, stationing, stockpiling and threat of nuclear weapons. It also obliges the parties to promote the treaty to other countries.
But getting all nations to ratify the treaty requiring them never to own such weapons seems daunting, if not impossible, in today’s global climate.
When the treaty was approved by the United Nations General Assembly in July 2017, more than 120 approved it. But none of the nine countries known or suspected of possessing nuclear weapons – the US, Russia, UK, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel – do so. argued, nor did the alliance of 30 NATO countries.
Japan, the only country in the world to suffer nuclear attacks, also does not support the treaty, even though elderly survivors of the 1945 bombings are pushing it strongly to do so. Japan on its own is renouncing the use and possession of nuclear weapons, but the government has said pursuing a treaty ban is unrealistic with nuclear and non-nuclear states so strongly divided on the matter.
Nonetheless, Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons, the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize-winning coalition whose work helped drive the treaty, called it “a very big day for the international law, for the United Nations and for the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ”.
Today, nuclear weapons are prohibited. There is no going back from this point, the #nuclearban will only get stronger from now on.
Ban is the future. pic.twitter.com/Fpex7qFopW
– Beatrice Fihn (@BeaFihn) January 22, 2021
Fihn told the Associated Press news agency that 61 countries had ratified the treaty on Thursday.
The treaty received its 50th ratification on October 24, triggering a 90-day period before it entered into force on January 22.
Fihn said the treaty is “really, really important” because it will now be a key legal instrument, along with the Geneva Conventions on Conduct towards Civilians and Soldiers in War and the Conventions banning weapons. chemical and biological and landmines.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said the treaty demonstrates support for multilateral approaches to nuclear disarmament.
“Nuclear weapons pose increasing dangers and the world needs urgent action to ensure their elimination and prevent the catastrophic human and environmental consequences that any use would cause,” he said in a video message.
Today, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons enters into force.
It is a major step towards a world without nuclear weapons.
I call on all countries to work together to achieve this vision, for our common security and our collective safety. pic.twitter.com/ybDamSdCZs
– António Guterres (@antonioguterres) January 22, 2021
Pope Francis announced the promulgation of the treaty during his general audience on Wednesday.
“It is the first legally binding international instrument explicitly banning these weapons, the indiscriminate use of which would affect large numbers of people in a short period of time and cause lasting damage to the environment,” Francis said.
Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Association for the Control of Armaments, said the arrival of the treaty was a historic step forward in efforts to free the world from nuclear weapons and “hopefully will oblige states with nuclear weapons. nuclear weapons to fulfill their commitment to completely eliminate nuclear weapons. nuclear weapons. “
A turning point in the long fight against the bomb: the TPNW enters into force on January 22. “The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at a Glance” via the Association for the Control of Armaments #nuclearban https://t.co/vXni6RC5bK pic.twitter.com/OwMxJW3X5K
– Gun Control Association (@ArmsControlNow) January 21, 2021
Fihn said in an interview that the campaign saw strong public support for the treaty in NATO countries and growing political pressure, citing Belgium and Spain.
“We won’t stop until everyone is on board,” she said.