As nuclear weapons threaten lives and the planet, the question is: Is Nuclear Warfare banned? The answer depends on who you ask. Many countries, including the U.S., have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. But some doubt that it will be effective. While some countries like Canada, France, and the Holy See have supported nuclear weapons bans, others are skeptical. The treaty’s failure is a significant setback for the entire global community, especially the U.S.
The nuclear weapons ban treaty came about after decades of negotiations. After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the first survivors began the fight against nuclear weapons. The treaty prohibits the development and testing of nuclear weapons. Signatory countries also commit to providing humanitarian assistance to victims and restoring contaminated areas. The pact was signed on April 16, 1996 and will come into effect today. It is an important step toward preventing nuclear war and ensuring that no one gets killed or hurt.
The TPNW has an important role in ensuring that nuclear warfighting is avoided. It reorganizes a tangle of humanitarian norms and laws, and shifts the balance of costs and benefits of illegal weapons. In addition, the treaty also provides an authoritative legal framework for the stigmatization of nuclear weapons, a campaign spearheaded by civil society. By banning nuclear weapons, the UN can help to save the world from further war.
Several states have signed the treaty, but some countries, including Norway, have refused to ratify it. The Norwegian government, which had initially resisted the movement, then funded NGOs that helped the governments in pushing for the treaty. The NGOs brought intellectual capital and organizational capabilities and gained valuable experience in human rights and humanitarian treaties. The ICAN lobbied states to participate in regional meetings and conferences and to pressure their governments into signing the treaty.
A Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was signed on August 5, 1963 by the United States, the Soviet Union, and France. By then, atmospheric radioactive fallout was a significant problem. The United States and the Soviet Union held first-ever nuclear test ban negotiations in 1959 and temporarily suspended them during most of 1959, but the discussions were halted by heightened Cold War tensions. The Soviet Union finally announced a moratorium on nuclear testing in 1991. But they never ratified the treaty and the process stalled.
In 2017, the United Nations adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Warfare (TPNW). It has been ratified by 123 countries, with 38 voting against. The US, UK, France, Russia, and Israel voted against the treaty. China, India, and Pakistan abstained from voting. The treaty is scheduled to enter into force on 22 January 2021. So far, the TPNW is the most comprehensive treaty to ban nuclear weapons.
Although nuclear weapons are still illegal to own, develop, deploy, test, and threaten, this treaty represents a major step forward in the march towards peace. It will become customary international law soon and have a profound effect on all governments. But it will take a while for these efforts to succeed. And, it will take decades before nuclear weapons are banned globally. That’s why the time to act is now.
What are the benefits of having the TPNW? It prohibits countries from developing and producing nuclear weapons, as well as hosting nuclear weapons on their national territory. And it also prohibits them from receiving or transferring them. It also prohibits them from aiding other countries in their banned activities. It’s an essential part of a nuclear-free world. But does this treaty really work? Only time will tell.
The 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty has set a date for nuclear disarmament negotiations to begin. But despite the TPNW, all nine nuclear-armed states are upgrading their arsenals in the twenty-first century. In the meantime, this stalled progress toward nuclear disarmament is increasing the risks of a nuclear war. What’s more, there is no clear end in sight. In the meantime, the TPNW will have a significant effect on the global situation.