Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty Negotiations at the UN

By Stacy Hanrahan, CND

On 16 December 2016, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a Landmark Resolution for negotiations of a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, leading to their elimination. The treaty aims not to limit the number of nuclear weapons, nor to prevent new countries from obtaining them, but rather, to declare them illegal and then to eliminate them.

Initial negotiations of the Treaty took place March 27-30. Events surrounding negotiations were not auspicious. The USA along with the other nuclear powers, boycotted the meeting. Then, when the Syrian government used gas on its own people, the US responded militarily. It later dropped a mega-bomb in Afghanistan. These actions highlight the urgent need for the Ban.

A partial listing of the motivations, principles, and desired outcomes of such a treaty leave little doubt as to its imperative:

  • Nine Nuclear nations together possess an estimated 14,900 weapons
  • 90%+ are in the arsenals of the United States and Russia
  • Over 120 nations believe that weapons intended to inflict catastrophic humanitarian harm, are participating actively in the treaty negotiations.
  • Representatives of scientific, medical, military, humanitarian, ecological and environmental, religious, NGO associations are demanding such an agreement.
  • Nuclear weapons would be prohibited under international law, placing them on the same legal footing as chemical and biological weapons.
  • The Ban Treaty is not contingent upon the support or participation of nuclear nations. No nation will have the power to veto the treaty‚Äôs adoption.

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