UN Nuclear Weapons Ban gets 50th Ratification 

November 9, 2020

On October 24, 2020, Honduras today became the 50th country to ratify the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). The treaty will enter into force on January 22, 2021.

The TPNW was adopted on July 7, 2017 and currently has 84 signatories. Although none of the nine nuclear weapons states has signed or ratified the treaty, as an international law, the TPNW will stigmatize those countries who continue to cling to nuclear weapons of mass destruction.

“The ratification of the TPNW is an important step because it acknowledges that the humanitarian impacts not only of the use of nuclear weapons, but also of their development and possession, is immoral and illegal,” said Linda Pentz Gunter, international specialist at Beyond Nuclear.

Once the treaty enters into force, any party that has ratified or acceded to it will be prohibited from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, transferring, possessing, stockpiling, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, or allowing nuclear weapons to be stationed on their territory. The Treaty also prohibits them from assisting, encouraging or inducing anyone to engage in any of these activities.

While the nuclear weapons states have not joined the treaty, their status as outlaws will build pressure for their eventual accession. The United States, for example, has never signed the treaties banning landmines or cluster munitions, but it has ceased to use them.

The success in bringing the TPNW into force is the result of much hard work, led internationally by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), an international network of organizations which collectively won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 for their efforts in securing the treaty. (Beyond Nuclear is a member of ICAN.)

According to ICAN, the TPNW “ is a powerful normative tool to demonstrate that nuclear weapons are morally unacceptable. It strengthens the legal framework and legal stigma against nuclear weapons. The TPNW can put external pressure on nuclear-armed states to make further efforts on disarmament.”

In addition to the stigmatization of nuclear weapons states, ICAN points out that the TPNW could also put pressure on financial institutions within those countries. 

“Financial institutions often choose not to invest in ‘controversial weapons,’ which are typically weapons prohibited by international law,” said an ICAN statement. “The entry into force of the TPNW clearly puts nuclear weapons in this category and will likely trigger additional divestment.”

Topics: Church Life



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