UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons – only 6 ratifications to go!

A total of 44 states are now parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (also known as the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty) which was adopted by the United Nations on July 7, 2017. This landmark treaty prohibits nuclear weapons and establishes a legal framework for their elimination. It will enter into force after 50 states have signed and ratified the treaty.

The latest endorsements of the treaty coincided with the 75th anniversary of the US atomic bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9 in 1945. To mark Hiroshima Day, Ireland, Nigeria and Niue ratified the treaty on August 6, while the Caribbean state of Saint Kitts and Nevis has moved to do the same this Nagasaki Day.

It is estimated that 90,000 to 140,000 people in Hiroshima (up to 39 percent of the population) and 60,000 to 80,000 people in Nagasaki (up to 32 percent of the population) died as a result of the US atomic bombings. Among the casualties, thousands died from radiation sickness in the weeks, months and years that followed. Many of those who survived the bombings, known as ‘hibakusha’, have campaigned relentlessly to remind the world of the horror of nuclear weapons and for the need to have these weapons of mass destruction banned and eliminated.

Today Mark Brantley, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saint Kitts and Nevis, said that the bombing of Nagasaki represented “the apogee of human cruelty and inhumanity” and that as a small nation committed to global peace, Saint Kitts and Nevis can see no useful purpose for nuclear armaments in today’s world.

The state of Saint Kitts and Nevis has become the eighth member of the Caribbean community to ratify the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty, following Guyana, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, and Belize.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) reports that of the sixteen members in the Oceanic community, a total of seven, including New Zealand, are now parties to the treaty.

In 2018, an Ipsos opinion poll showed that 78.9 per cent of Australians supported joining the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty with only 7.7 per cent opposed. It is time for the Australian Government to recognise this overwhelming public support, along with the threat that nuclear weapons pose to human survival, by also ratifying the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty.

Marking 75 years since the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Mayor Tomihisa Taue of Nagasaki delivered this year’s Peace Declaration at the Nagasaki Peace Ceremony on August 9, 2020. Read the Peace Declaration here.

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