International Committee of Red Cross urges nations to act on proposal to ban nuclear weapons

October 12, 2016

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) today urged nations to act on the recommendation of the UN open-ended working group to convene negotiations in 2017 on a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons.

Addressing the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, the ICRC’s vice-president, Christine Beerli, said that the international community has a “unique opportunity” to achieve a ban on the “most destructive weapon ever invented”.

“The international community now has before it overwhelming evidence of the horrific, long-term and irreversible effects of these weapons on health, the environment, climate and food production,” she said.

“Having recognized these consequences, states now have a responsibility to take decisive action. And they have an unprecedented opportunity to do so, by acting on the recommendation adopted by the UN open-ended working group.”

A prohibition on nuclear weapons is “an indispensable building block in reaching the universal goal of a world free of nuclear weapons”, she said. “As with chemical and biological weapons, unambiguous prohibition is both the foundation for disarmament and a disincentive for proliferation.”

Read full statement here.



  • aiweiwei

    “Let’s act up! Ban nuclear weapons completely and unconditionally.”

    Ai Weiwei Artist and activist

  • sheen

    “If Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr were alive today, they would be part of ICAN.”

    Martin Sheen Actor and activist

  • bankimoon

    “I salute ICAN for working with such commitment and creativity.”

    Ban Ki-moon Former UN chief

  • yokoono

    “We can do it together. With your help, our voice will be made still stronger. Imagine peace.”

    Yoko Ono Artist

  • jodywilliams

    “Governments say a nuclear weapons ban is unlikely. Don’t believe it. They said the same about a mine ban treaty.”

    Jody Williams Nobel laureate

  • desmondtutu

    “With your support, we can take ICAN its full distance – all the way to zero nuclear weapons.”

    Desmond Tutu Nobel laureate

  • herbiehancock

    “Because I cannot tolerate these appalling weapons, I whole-heartedly support ICAN.”

    Herbie Hancock Jazz musician

  • dalailama

    “I can imagine a world without nuclear weapons, and I support ICAN.”

    Dalai Lama Nobel laureate