FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty – Rx for Survival

by

Nuclear weapons have threatened humanity for 72 years, ultimately becoming the greatest eminent threat to our survival. This past Friday, July 7, nuclear weapons at long last joined the ranks of other weapons of mass destruction including biologic and chemical weapons, landmines and cluster munitions in being banned and declared illegal under international treaty law.

The U.N. adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Under Article 6 of the Treaty, states are prohibited from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, acquiring, possessing, stockpiling, transferring, deploying, stationing, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, under any circumstances. It also makes it illegal to assist, encourage or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a state party under this treaty, extending the prohibitions to non-state actors as well.

While nuclear weapons still exist, any nation that violates the above conditions will now be in breach of international and humanitarian law and should be considered a pariah state and ultimately on the wrong side of history.  As with other weapons of mass destruction, the weapons are usually banned and then subsequently eliminated.

This historic effort establishes a new norm and when in force will be the law of all lands. This Treaty has been years in the making and comes from the convergence of the failure of the nuclear weapons states to meet their legally binding obligation for 47 years, under article 6 of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to work in good faith to eliminate nuclear weapons and recent scientific evidence demonstrating humanitarian consequences far worse than previously imagined of even a small limited regional nuclear war. Such a scenario would put much of humanity at risk from the associated climate change and nuclear famine that would follow, lasting decades into the future.

The humanitarian case has taken this treaty process forward from meetings in Oslo, Mexico, Vienna and to the United Nations, whose member nation-states gave majority approval last December for the treaty to be negotiated this year. The process has been driven forward by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) working with civil society.  Representatives of 129 non-nuclear nations including the International Red Cross and the Holy See have worked together and made clear through this treaty that they will no longer be held hostage or bullied by the nuclear nations.

While there is not one fewer nuclear weapon on the planet, this treaty focuses the world’s attention on the nuclear powers and the international institutions that make the existence of these weapons possible. It highlights the humanitarian costs to victims, particularly indigenous peoples, women and girls, the hibakusha as well as the catastrophic effects on the environment that have long been the silent victims of the testing, development and use of these weapons.

The treaty adopted by an overwhelming majority of 122 in favor and 1 against, the Netherlands, and 1 abstention Singapore, establishes a new international norm and does not specifically establish enforcement mechanisms, which are otherwise left to the court of public opinion and adherence to international norms.  This does not differ from other international treaties banning weapons of mass destruction such as chemical weapons, biological weapons, and land mines.

This treaty process has been boycotted by the nuclear weapons states. In particular, protestations of the United States and Russia–who together possess approximately 93 percent of the 15,000 weapons in today’s global arsenals and who have effectively bullied the other nuclear nations with their rhetorical double speak.  Voicing their support for a world without nuclear weapons, they professed the need to be ‘realistic’ due to the dangers of these weapons and the need for a strong deterrence, thus precluding their ability to participate in this treaty process.

They have remained oblivious and hostage themselves to this mythological deterrence argument that has been the principal driver of the arms race since its inception, including the current new arms race initiated by the United States with a proposal to spend $1 trillion in the next three decades to rebuild and expand our nuclear arsenals. Under these deterrence theories, each nation must maintain a superiority or generational advantage over its adversaries, thus fueling the ever accelerating and growing arms race to oblivion.

The adopted Treaty bans nuclear weapons and establishes a framework to mount an effective legal, political, economic, and social challenge to the concept, policies, and practices of nuclear “deterrence” and to the existence of nuclear weapons themselves in order to eliminate them and all related programs. The Treaty will be open for signature to all States of the United Nations on September 19 at the U.N. The Treaty shall enter into force 90 days after the 50th State has ratified, signed or accepted it.

This Treaty represents the resolve of the negotiating states and civil society and puts us on a path to a nuclear weapon-free world. In the future when the United States and other nuclear states are asked, what did we do when our planet was threatened, what will be our response?  What will we say when it is recognized that we were on the wrong side of history and our very survival was threatened?

More articles by:
November 23, 2017
Kenneth Surin
Discussing Trump Abroad
Jay Moore
The Failure of Reconstruction and Its Consequences
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Trout and Ethnic Cleansing
John W. Whitehead
Don’t Just Give Thanks, Pay It Forward One Act of Kindness at a Time
Chris Zinda
Zinke’s Reorganization of the BLM Will Continue Killing Babies
David Krieger
Progress Toward Nuclear Weapons Abolition
Rick Baum
While Public Education is Being Attacked: An American Federation of Teachers Petition Focuses on Maintaining a Minor Tax Break
Paul C. Bermanzohn
The As-If Society
Cole A. Turner
Go Away, Kevin Spacey
Ramzy Baroud
70 Years of Broken Promises: The Untold Story of the Partition Plan
Binoy Kampmark
A New Movement of Rights and the Right in Australia
George Ochenski
Democratic Party: Discouraged, Disgusted, Dysfunctional
Nino Pagliccia
The Governorship Elections in Venezuela: an Interview With Arnold August
Christopher Ketcham
Spanksgiving Day Poem
November 22, 2017
Jonathan Cook
Syria, ‘Experts’ and George Monbiot
William Kaufman
The Great American Sex Panic of 2017
Richard Moser
Young Patriots, Black Panthers and the Rainbow Coalition
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima Darkness
Lee Artz
Cuba Libre, 2017
Mark Weisbrot
Mass Starvation and an Unconstitutional War: US / Saudi Crimes in Yemen
Frank Stricker
Republican Tax Cuts: You’re Right, They’re Not About Economic Growth or Lifting Working-Class Incomes
Edward Hunt
Reconciling With Extremists in Afghanistan
Dave Lindorff
Remembering Media Critic Ed Herman
Nick Pemberton
What to do About Al Franken?
November 21, 2017
Gregory Elich
What is Behind the Military Coup in Zimbabwe?
Louisa Willcox
Rising Grizzly Bear Deaths Raise Red Flag About Delisting
David Macaray
My Encounter With Charles Manson
Patrick Cockburn
The Greatest Threats to the Middle East are Jared Kushner and Mohammed bin Salman
Stephen Corry
OECD Fails to Recognize WWF Conservation Abuses
James Rothenberg
We All Know the Rich Don’t Need Tax Cuts
Elizabeth Keyes
Let There be a Benign Reason For Someone to be Crawling Through My Window at 3AM!
L. Ali Khan
The Merchant of Weapons
Thomas Knapp
How to Stop a Rogue President From Ordering a Nuclear First Strike
Lee Ballinger
Trump v. Marshawn Lynch
Michael Eisenscher
Donald Trump, Congress, and War with North Korea
Tom H. Hastings
Reckless
Franklin Lamb
Will Lebanon’s Economy Be Crippled?
Linn Washington Jr.
Forced Anthem Adherence Antithetical to Justice
Nicolas J S Davies
Why Do Civilians Become Combatants In Wars Against America?
November 20, 2017
T.J. Coles
Doomsday Scenarios: the UK’s Hair-Raising Admissions About the Prospect of Nuclear War and Accident
Peter Linebaugh
On the 800th Anniversary of the Charter of the Forest
Patrick Bond
Zimbabwe Witnessing an Elite Transition as Economic Meltdown Looms
Sheldon Richman
Assertions, Facts and CNN
Ben Debney
Plebiscites: Why Stop at One?
LV Filson
Yemen’s Collective Starvation: Where Money Can’t Buy Food, Water or Medicine
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail