In a historic event for the world, the United Nations (UN) has announced that fifty countries have ratified the international treaty that bans the use, manufacturing, sale, and maintenance of nuclear weapons.
The 50th country was Honduras, which had joined the historic Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). Other countries that have ratified the treaty include Thailand, Mexico, South Africa, Nigeria, Austria and New Zealand. And it was done on the 75th birthday of the United Nations, making it even more meaningful considering that the UN was created after World War II to be an international governing body precisely to stop wars and promote peace.
While the move has been commended and hailed by anti-nuclear activists, countries like the United States and Russia are opposed to the treaty considering they are major nuclear power players. Other nuclear-armed countries that have not signed the treaty as well include France, Britain, and China.
António Guterres, The UN Secretary-General, hailed the 50 states that have joined the treaty, calling it “a meaningful commitment towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons.” Meanwhile, he also called the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) a “historic” event.
The TPNW will enter into force on January 22, 2021 for an “unlimited duration,” banning all stages and uses of nuclear weapons within any state or nation that has ratified the treaty. It also has structures in place that allow ratified nations to ‘hold each other accountable’ in case of a breach in the treaty.
UN Chief Guterres explained that the treaty is a worldwide movement “to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons.” He also shared that it “is a tribute to the survivors of nuclear explosions and tests, many of whom advocated for this treaty.”
Spokesperson for Mr. Guterres, Stephane Dujarric, also said that the treaty “represents a meaningful commitment towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons, which remains the highest disarmament priority of the United Nations.”
For the nations that have yet to sign the treaty, the fact that it has entered international law is proof that those 50 nations are dedicated to abolishing the use and manufacturing of nuclear weapons.
88-year old Setsuko Thurlow, who happens to be one of the very last survivors of the Hiroshima bombing back in 1945, has been campaigning for the ratification of this treaty for years. She is also the founder of International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which happens to be the winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its anti-nuclear weapon and peace-keeping efforts.
The executive director of ICAN, Beatrice Fihn, explains, “This moment has been 75 years coming since the horrific attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the founding of the UN which made nuclear disarmament a cornerstone.”
“The 50 countries that ratify this Treaty are showing true leadership in setting a new international norm that nuclear weapons are not just immoral but illegal,” she added.
Fihn also iterated, “The United Nations was formed to promote peace with a goal of the abolition of nuclear weapons. This treaty is the UN at its best – working closely with civil society to bring democracy to disarmament.”
Upon hearing that the treaty had been signed by the 50th state, Thurlow – who was just 13-years old when the atomic bomb landed on her city – she released a statement saying, “When I learned that we reached our 50th ratification, I was not able to stand.”
She added, “I remained in my chair and put my head in my hands and I cried tears of joy. I have committed my life to the abolition of nuclear weapons. I have nothing but gratitude for all who have worked for the success of our treaty.”
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