Today, the nation of Honduras ratified the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which along with ratifications yesterday by Jamaica and Nauru, brings the total number of ratifications to 50. The Treaty–which is modeled on existing treaties that ban inhumane weapons of war including biological and chemical weapons, land mines, and cluster munitions–stipulates that it will enter into force 90 days after the 50th nation ratifies it. At long last, nuclear weapons will be declared illegal!
Back from the Brink celebrates this historic milestone in the global movement to abolish nuclear weapons and prevent nuclear war. The TPNW makes it illegal under international law to “develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess, or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” The Treaty also contains provisions aimed at rectifying past injustices, requiring state parties to provide environmental remediation and assistance to victims of nuclear weapons use and testing. It was adopted by 122 nations in July 2017 and to date has been signed by leaders of 84 countries, with more expected to sign and ratify over time.
The TPNW does not directly impact nations that are not yet party to it, including the nine countries that possess nuclear weapons, but its strong moral force will change global norms and ultimately, behaviors. For example, financial institutions will face increased calls to divest from nuclear weapons now that they are prohibited by international law. Many have already done so. As the TPNW enters into force, nuclear weapons will be further stigmatized.
It’s important to acknowledge that the TPNW was made possible in large part by the tireless efforts of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) with over 400 Partner Organizations in 103 countries, and civil society. Campaigners had to tune out powerful naysayers, stay focused on their goals, and persevere until they made the TPNW a reality. Back from the Brink congratulates ICAN, its Partner Organizations, campaigners, and everyone who worked to make this day possible.
It is no surprise that the United States government opposes the TPNW and is planning to replace its entire nuclear arsenal with enhanced weapons. But this is where Back from the Brink – and YOU – come in. Like ICAN, Back from the Brink depends on the active participation of organizations and individuals organizing locally in their communities. Together, we’ve brought resolutions before over 50 municipal and state governments, requiring representatives to listen to their constituents testify about the danger of nuclear weapons and common sense policy solutions and then decide where they stand. And, more than two-thirds of the resolutions adopted explicitly express support for the Treaty.
Town by town, city by city, Back from the Brink is demonstrating that Americans are not complacent about nuclear weapons. If enough people get involved in this campaign, we too can build a movement in the United States that policymakers cannot ignore.
Our country is facing multiple crises that lay bare extraordinary economic and racial disparities and the folly of our financial priorities. It’s up to us to engage policymakers and the public in a candid discussion about nuclear weapons spending and alternative investments we could make in healthcare, economic stimulus programs, police and criminal justice reform, solutions to the climate crisis, education, and many other pressing community needs.
We can do it. Today, what once seemed impossible is not only possible, it is reality – in 90 days, nuclear weapons will be illegal under international law. Let us be inspired by this tremendous accomplishment and persevere with renewed hope. Each and every local Back from the Brink effort makes a difference and brings us closer to our goal of a world without nuclear weapons. Please check out our Advocacy Tools to start organizing in your community, and if you need help or have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us as firstname.lastname@example.org.