Ridding the world of nuclear weapons

The date July 7, 2017 marks two years since the historic adoption of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW or the treaty). To celebrate the occasion, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) has launched a new resource entitled Campaigner’s Guide to Signature and Ratification of the TPNW.

ICAN was a major influence behind the negotiation of the TPNW and was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its endeavours. The treaty is wide ranging and aims to prohibit the use or the threat of use of nuclear weapons along with their development; production and testing; acquisition, possession and stockpiling; transfer; and stationing and deployment.

The treaty opened for signature at United Nations headquarters in New York on 20 September 2017 and will remain open indefinitely. Once 50 nations have ratified the treaty, it will enter into force.

So far 23 of the required 50 nations have ratified the treaty.  ICAN’s guide offers suggestions for actions people can take to encourage their own countries to sign and ratify the treaty. A pdf version of the guide can be downloaded here.

In a few months from now, world leaders will gather in New York for the annual opening of the UN General Assembly. It will include a high-level ceremony for the nuclear weapon ban treaty on 26 September. ICAN is urging supporters to encourage uncommitted governments to participate in this ceremony. ICAN points out that a major boost in support was achieved when a similar ceremony was held last year.

For 70 years humanity has been living under the shadow of nuclear war. On numerous occasions during this period, humanity has come extremely close to terminal disaster. It is nothing short of a miracle that the human species has survived.

The Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) of the Trump administration has dramatically increased the threat of nuclear conflagration. In defiance of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Trump administration has begun making a new, low-yield nuclear warhead for its Trident missiles that arms control advocates warn could reduce the threshold for a nuclear conflict.

The TPNW is the world’s best hope for transitioning from a world with more than 13,000 nuclear weapons to a world free of such weapons. Ratifying and implementing this treaty would indisputably boost humanity’s chances of survival.

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