For the Peace Foundation and the entire world, the fight for a nuclear weapons ban has reached a watershed moment this year: After the negotiating mandate for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted around eight months ago, it took only four weeks of negotiating until 122 states voted in favour of the Treaty on the 7th of July, 2017.
Less than three months later, the Nuclear Ban Treaty has finally opened to signature on the 20th of September. 50 states signed the treaty the very day it opened, whilst two states did so in the following days. Four signatories even directly ratified the legally binding treaty.
After 30 years of our nuclear-free legislation, New Zealand continued its stance in favouring the abolition of nuclear weapons. We are proud that New Zealand signed the treaty on the 20th of September and we are hoping that government will soon follow up with the treaty’s ratification. As soon as 50 states have ratified the Nuclear Ban Treaty – meaning that the state has acquired approval of the signature through domestic legislative – the Treaty will become legally binding.
The Nuclear Ban Treaty has the power to change states’ usage of nuclear weapons dramatically, as they will be held accountable beyond prohibiting nuclear weapons – human and environmental damages caused by nuclear weapons use can now be effectively followed up on.
Particularly civil society actors should be given credit for their continuous effort in campaigning for the ban of nuclear weapons. Together with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the Red Cross, participation of survivors and many others, we have stood for peace.
We are proud of having reached a legally binding treaty but the way to a nuclear-free world is still long. Deeds must follow words, many more states must join to provide the Treaty with political momentum, and civil society shall campaign for the Treaty globally. Not only the current tensions between the United States and the Democratic Republic of Korea have brought back to mind the threatful nature of nuclear weapons, but there are countries with nuclear weapons and their allies who oppose to be held legally accountable for their nuclear activities. We therefore believe that we should not only celebrate the Nuclear Ban Treaty and also consider it a motivation in our pursuit of a peaceful world.