Nuclear weapons soon to be illegal

October 27, 2020

Nuclear weapons are about to become illegal. The UN treaty banning nuclear weapons will go into force in January now that the 50th country has ratified it. “This is a huge step towards a nuclear-free world,” said PAX’s Susi Snyder.

Honduras has ratified the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, putting it over the threshold needed to enter into force. The treaty makes the development, testing, use and possession of nuclear weapons illegal for all countries that have ratified it. It was adopted by 122 countries in 2017 and has now been ratified by 50 countries. That means that nuclear weapons will be illegal under international law in 90 days. This will increase the stigma on nuclear weapons and undermines the idea that nuclear weapons are legitimate, including for states that have not ratified the treaty.

“Everyone knows that nuclear weapons are terrible and cause enormous and long-lasting damage,” says Snyder, Nuclear Disarmament Program Leader at PAX. “Seventy-five years after nuclear weapons were first used, they are finally becoming illegal.”

The Netherlands has yet to ratify

The Dutch government is currently opposed to joining the treaty, despite public and parliamentary pressure to do so. The government cites NATO commitments as one of its main concerns. The Netherlands still has American nuclear weapons at the Volkel Air Base and has indicated that these weapons may soon be replaced by more advanced nuclear weapons.

“Most Dutch people, and a majority in parliament, are absolutely against this,” says Snyder. “There is no reason whatsoever to keep US nuclear weapons on our territory, with all the associated risks. We call on the Dutch government to seize this historic moment to remove all nuclear weapons from Dutch territory and to sign the treaty. Because even if the major nuclear weapon states have not yet signed, the pressure to part with nuclear weapons is increasing enormously. We have also seen this in the past with other international treaties such as the conventions banning landmines and cluster munitions.”

Read more about the treaty, and PAX’s work to ban nuclear weapons

See also the pageflow about the Nuclear Weapon Prohibition Treaty.

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