Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty turns two

July 5, 2019

Two years year ago the UN adopted a treaty banning all nuclear weapons. On 7 July, 2017, 122 countries decided enough was enough, nuclear weapons need to be banned outright.

On the second anniversary of this historic moment, 70 countries have now signed the treaty, and 23 of those countries have also ratified it. The ban will go into effect the moment the 50th country ratifies the treaty.

PAX’s Susi Snyder says, “Given the horrendous humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, no country should have the right to develop, posses, let alone use, these weapons. This treaty is a clear signal to the nine countries with nuclear weapons and their allies that the rest of the world considers their behaviour not only immoral, but also illegal.”

Major impact
The treaty has already had a substantial effect. A growing number of cities around the world are stepping up to ban nuclear weapons by calling on their government to support and join the treaty. Berlin, Washington D.C., Paris, Sydney and many others have signed the Cities Appeal by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

Four NATO member countries (Belgium, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands) are under pressure from the substantial majority of their people who want their governments to sign the treaty. This is according to a YouGov independent poll commissioned by ICAN.

Investors are changing their policy on nuclear weapons, including influential financial institutions such as the Dutch pension fund ABP (the fifth largest pension fund in the world), the Belgian bank KBC, and the Deutsche Bank. They all point to the ban treaty as the reason they no longer invest in the nuclear weapons sector.

No least, the effects nuclear weapons have on civilians is back on the agenda. For instance, victims still dealing with the effects of being exposed to nuclear weapons tests testified in the US Senate

Clear signal
Countries with nuclear weapons capability have managed for decades to keep the tempo of nuclear disarmament to a snail’s pace. Many are currently modernizing their nuclear arsenals. That may soon become more difficult. The treaty forbids every form of assistance for the production or maintenance of nuclear weapons. Many countries consider financial investments in nuclear weapons a form of assistance.

ICAN had been working on the ban treaty for years. PAX plays a leading role in ICAN. Adoption of the nuclear weapons ban treaty, adopted in large part thanks to ICAN, was a major reason the organization was granted the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017.

Get involved with our peace work.
Subscribe to the PAX Action Alert.