Historic UN Agreement Banning Nuclear Weapons

Following intense negotiations at the UN headquarters in New York, 122 UN Member States adopted a historic, legally-binding treaty banning nuclear weapons.

“History was made today,” said DI President Dr. Widad Akreyi as she  praised the States for reaching the agreement that prohibits some of the most indiscriminately inhumane weapons ever invented. “The vast majority of UN Member States demonstrated their commitment to international humanitarian law and human rights. This vote will create a strong norm against the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and it is a victory for the victims of nuclear weapons.”

The treaty adopted acknowledges the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from any use of nuclear weapons. It prohibits states from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, otherwise acquiring, transferring, receiving, possessing, stockpiling, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons. It makes it illegal to assist, encourage, or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in any of those activities. The only country that voted against the treaty was the Netherlands, whereas Singapore abstained.

The ban will enter into force when 50 States have ratified it. It will be legally-binding once a country signs and ratifies it. The treaty will be open for signature at the UN headquarters in New York on September 20th, 2017. Any State joining the treaty declares that “any use of nuclear weapons would be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles and rules of humanitarian law.”

In accordance with applicable international humanitarian and human rights law, the treaty includes strong provisions to assist the victims of nuclear weapons use and testing by adequately provide “age- and gender-sensitive assistance, including medical care, rehabilitation and psychological support, as well as provide for their social and economic inclusion.” An affected State will have the right to seek and to receive assistance toward the environmental remediation of areas contaminated as a result of activities related to the testing or use of nuclear weapons.

Defend International has supported advocacy efforts calling for the prohibition of nuclear weapons.

“We commend the work done by our colleagues at the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and their partners towards this milestone,” said Dr. Akreyi. “We urge government delegates to sign the treaty and start taking steps to incorporate the prohibition into national law.”