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Nuclear weapons ban treaty negotiations begin at the United Nations

March 27, 2017

[The following statement by ICAN was released at the opening of UN negotiations on a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons.]


Today, negotiations on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons in international law began in New York. The treaty is being negotiated based on the recognition that the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons use is morally unacceptable and that the weapons themselves represent a significant risk to human security.

As the conference opened, ICAN Executive Director Beatrice Fihn said, “The treaty will finally ban weapons designed to indiscriminately kill civilians, completing the prohibition of weapons of mass destruction.”

With the support of more than 120 countries, the UN General Assembly approved the negotiation of a treaty banning nuclear weapons in October of 2016. The UN action followed a series of fact-finding conferences on the unacceptable humanitarian cost of any nuclear weapons use and the role a prohibition on nuclear weapons would have in strengthening international humanitarian law. It was the conclusion of the General Assembly that every state has security interest in preventing nuclear weapons use.

It is expected that the treaty will legally bind parties from using, possessing and developing nuclear weapons, and assisting others in those activities. It is expected to work in concert with the existing regime of nonproliferation and disarmament agreements, strengthening the norm against indiscriminate weapons and providing countries with a method to meet disarmament obligations.

“The treaty will have an impact, even on countries which fail to participate, by setting international norms of behavior and removing the political prestige associated with nuclear weapons,” Fihn added.

With the risk of nuclear detonation higher than at any time since the end of the Cold War, this treaty is an urgent priority for all countries that believe in a future free of nuclear weapons. Past disarmament efforts demonstrate that the most effective step towards the elimination of a class of weapons is prohibiting them under international law. The complete elimination of nuclear weapons by the states that possess them will not happen immediately, but the increasingly complex international security environment and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction highlights the need to bring an end to the nuclear age.

  1. March 28, 2017 8:30 am

    Reblogged this on AGR Daily News Service.

  2. David Spence, MD permalink
    March 27, 2017 8:25 pm

    I am attending the UN General Assembly sessions all week as a PSR/Arizona campaigner for ICAN. Today the GA sessions were consumed by opening statements of support by everyone of the 100+ Delegations. Many of those speakers also condemned the nuclear weapon states (including umbrella covered states) for their absence/boycott of the session
    This week’s negotiations are expected to produce a framework or outline of a nuclear weapon ban treaty. The next negotiating session, June 15 thru July7, will result in the actual treaty. The expected scope of this treaty is to prohibit by international law the development, production, testing, acquisition, stockpiling, transfer, deployment, use and threat of use and financing of nuclear weapons. Subsequent protocols and treaties would ensue to actually eliminate, step-by-step, the outlawed weapons. Verification and enforcement would be incorporated in those protocols. Once these weapons are declared illegal, the financing of them will be subject to public pressure (divestments, boycotts, protests)— independent of governmental control.

    Further reporting will follow as this week-long session progresses.

  3. David E. Drake, D.O. permalink
    March 27, 2017 7:44 pm

    Thank you Ms. Holt – a very good point not to discuss these nuclear bombs as weapons – they are indeed of no use and threaten our very existence – I was glad to be part of the lobbying at the First Committee of the U.N., joining folks and organizations who have been involved in this effort for years

  4. March 27, 2017 4:50 pm

    Never mentioned, ominously enough, is the fact that the explosion of a small proportion of the world’s stock of nuclear bombs would start a downhill process that would end all major forms of life on earth. Too threatening to contemplate or face directly, but inevitable unless we take steps, as soon as possible, to banish and deconstruct all nuclear bombs. They should not be spoken of as weapons, as they are too destructive ever to be used.

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