Banning nuclear weapons S2, E1: productive and progressive

Lucy and Lyndon listening to delegates pointing out just how illegal nuclear weapons are under international law.

It was an exciting, fast-paced day today, as #nuclearban negotiations resumed at UN Headquarters for a treaty banning nuclear weapons. The talks were progressive, constructive and productive. Quite refreshing for a UN conference. Delegation after delegation called for stronger statements prohibiting not just the use, but also the threat of use, of nuclear weapons. That’s important, because a strong statement in the treaty regarding the illegality of making nuclear threats would delegitimise the concept of nuclear deterrence, which is based on maintaining a constant threat to use nuclear weapons.


Many states also spoke in favour of stronger recognition of  the gendered impact of nuclear weapons. That is, the treaty will recognise that ionising radiation disproportionately impact the health of women and girls (pp. 26-34).

There was much media interest in the contributions from civil society – in particular, the statement from the Mayor of Hiroshima, who recalled the suffering of Hibakusha (nuclear bomb victims) and of the many other victims who have suffered the effects of nuclear weapons development and testing worldwide.

New Zealand civil society delegation meets at the NZ Permanent Mission to the UN in New York (L-R Treasa Dunworth, Lyndon Burford, Rob Green, Kate Dewes, Lucy Stewart).

There was very broad agreement that nuclear weapons pose an unacceptable risk to the survival of humanity, and that the only way to make sure that nuclear weapons are never used again is to completely eliminate the weapons.  These points, and many more like them, will certainly be in the final treaty. 

After day one, it’s already looking like the nuclear weapons ban treaty will be a strong statement from the majority of UN member states that nuclear weapons, the most indiscriminate, inhumane weapons ever invented, are illegal. Full stop.

Former New Zealand Ambassador for Disarmament Tim Caughley, with the current Ambassador, Dell Higgie, at the nuclear ban treaty negotiations.


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