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Nobel Laureates call for ban treaty negotiations

October 24, 2016

fb-nobel-laureates-ban-treaty-2016[The following statement, calling on the UN First Committee to adopt a resolution mandating negotiations on a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons, has been endorsed by 15 Nobel Peace Laureates and two Laureates in other fields. Their names are listed at the end of the statement.]

The dangers posed by nuclear weapons are utterly unacceptable, and the only sure way to prevent an unthinkable catastrophe is to eliminate them completely.

There are still more than 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world today. The indisputable evidence on the medical, environmental, and humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and nuclear war was presented at three international state conferences in Oslo, Nayarit, and Vienna, and was taken up again at the recently concluded UN Open-Ended Working Group taking forward multilateral negotiations on nuclear disarmament (OEWG).

As this evidence shows, the impact of the use of just one nuclear weapon would be catastrophic. Were just 100 nuclear weapons to be detonated over the same number of cities, the Earth’s temperature would drop by more than one degree Celsius for at least ten years, causing massive disruption of global food production and putting two billion people at risk of starvation.

If we fail to prevent nuclear war, all of our other efforts to secure peace and justice will be to no avail. We need to stigmatize, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons. The OEWG strongly recommended that the General Assembly mandate a negotiating conference, commencing in 2017, on a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons. A draft resolution has now been submitted to the First Committee calling for negotiations on a treaty banning nuclear weapons to commence next year.

As Nobel Laureates, we urge the First Committee and the General Assembly to vote in favor of this resolution and to ensure that negotiations on a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons commence in 2017. These should be brought to a timely and successful conclusion so that we can proceed rapidly toward the final elimination of this existential threat to humanity.

Nobel Peace Laureates

His Holiness the Dalai Lama (1989)

F.W. de Klerk (1993)

Shirin Ebadi (2003)

Leymah Gbowee (2011)

John Hume (1998)

International Campaign to Ban Landmines (1997)

International Peace Bureau (1910)

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (1985)

Tawakkol Karman (2011)

Mairead Corrigan-Maguire (1976)

Jose Ramos-Horta (1996)

Kailash Satyarthi (2014)

Desmond Tutu (1984)

Jody Williams (1997)

Muhammad Yunus (2006)


Sir Richard J. Roberts, Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine (1993)

Prof. Brian Schmidt, Nobel Laureate in Physics (2011)

  1. November 17, 2016 10:47 am

    Thanks for your comment, Cary. There are no fixed dates. The full General Assembly vote on L.41 should happen later this month, though sometimes voting slides into early December. We expect the resolution to clear this last hurdle by the same majority…perhaps with even a few more yes votes. The negotiating conference will then take place in March and June. One thing we can all do is talk about the negotiations and the ban treaty in our own communities, so that people better understand what they’re about and why prohibiting and eliminating nuclear weapons is so important. Persuading the nuclear-armed states to finally eliminate these abhorrent weapons will be the last thing that happens, but we need to remain confident that it IS the right thing and that it WILL happen. That’s not to say it will be easy. It won’t.

  2. Cary Hernandez MD permalink
    November 17, 2016 12:52 am

    What can the individual do to promote the abolition of nuclear warheads, or END all future nuclear testing. If the UN Security Council does not listen Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, how will they listen to me??
    I thought UN resolution L-41 was going to a vote in Nov. 2016, What ever happened? I have joined the IPPNW……………and hoping I can do what is necessary . Cary Hernandez MD


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