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Historic Convention Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons Within Reach

June 15, 2017

ICAN has released the following statement on the resumption of negotiations at the United Nations on a Convention  on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

As the second negotiation session on the Convention to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons (CPNW) begins, there is broad consensus for a comprehensive and verifiable ban on nuclear weapons, strong support from international civil society organizations, and clear opportunities to strengthen the draft treaty before it is adopted.

ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, has applauded the treaty draft released in May and will pursue language that clarifies and strengthens the treaty’s goal of ensuring a world without nuclear weapons.

Executive Director of ICAN, Beatrice Fihn, said “The purpose of nuclear weapons is to indiscriminately kill civilians by the millions – to incinerate whole cities of people. No one believes that is acceptable and these weapons cannot be tolerated. This Convention will ban nuclear weapons under international law as a necessary step towards eliminating them entirely. The time has come to take this historic step.”

Supporters of the CPNW have identified a number of opportunities to strengthen and clarify the draft text of the convention:

Core Prohibitions. ICAN believes a prohibition on military planning and preparation for the use of nuclear weapons should be an essential component of Article 1, and prefers the explicit inclusion of financing in any prohibition on “assistance.”

Accession of nuclear armed states and nuclear host states. Additional clarity is necessary in the process by which a nuclear armed or nuclear host state would join the Convention. ICAN believes that additional clarity is necessary in how states would declare weapons, plan for their verifiable, irreversible, and transparent destruction, and do so within a defined timeframe.

Positive obligations towards victims and the environment. ICAN believes that obligations for assistance to the victims of nuclear weapons and environmental remediation of damage resulting from their use can be clearer and stronger.

Other treaties. ICAN believes the CPNW must not conflict with states parties obligations under other treaties such as the Non-Proliferation (NPT) and the Comprehensive Test Ban (CTBT). The Convention must be clear that its provisions will be subject to safeguards and verification no less stringent than under other treaties. ICAN believes the CPNW is a method by which nuclear armed states can meet their NPT obligation to disarm and is not an alternative to any existing treaty.

Creating a Universal Norm. ICAN supports additions to the treaty preamble and operative text which clarifies the intent of the Convention to set a norm of international behavior against nuclear weapons and the goal of universal nuclear prohibition and elimination.
“Nuclear weapons do not provide security; they make the world less safe. They are unacceptable weapons and the time has come for the world to move on. We can make this Convention strong, clear, and effective. We welcome the input of states which do not plan on becoming parties immediately, but which have an interest in these issues,” Fihn said.

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