UN Adopts Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons

Last Friday an extraordinary event happened at the UN. Nuclear weapons were declared illegal. After two rounds of negotiations starting last March, 122 member states adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

The treaty bans the development, testing, production, manufacture, acquisition, possession or stockpiling nuclear weapons. The nine nations who have nuclear weapons and the non-nuclear NATO members, with the exception of the Netherlands, did not participate.

Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez of Costa Rica who presided over the negotiating conference summarized their work, “We are responding to the hopes and dreams of the present and future generations.”

Tim Wallis, NP’s former executive director and former co-chair of the Board of Directors, was an active part of an impressive coalition of activists who organized and lobbied. His book, Disarming the Nuclear Argument, was distributed to UN missions.

In sighting both the significance and the limitations of the treaty, Tim explained, “The treaty will not eliminate a single nuclear weapon. But it puts them into the same category as chemical and biological weapons. They are considered by a large majority of the nation states to be illegal and unacceptable.”

As soon as 50 countries ratify the document, the treaty will take effect. It serves as a tribute to the Hibakusha (survivors of the nuclear blasts in Japan), the Ploughshares activists, the sailors on the Golden Rule, the Friends and the thousands more who have campaigned organized, marched, lobbied, written letters and gone to jail.

Photo: Janet Fenton and Tim Wallis celebrate the passage of the nuclear weapons ban.

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