Poised to outlaw nuclear weapons
July 6, 2017
At the United Nations on Friday, an overwhelming majority of the world’s nations will decide – by acclamation or vote – whether to adopt a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons. Since June 15, they have been intensively negotiating its various provisions.
Great progress was made over the past three weeks. Each new draft of this landmark agreement was stronger than the last – reflecting the tremendous resolve of the negotiating states and civil society to establish the most robust, powerful instrument possible.
We are on the cusp of a truly historic moment – when the international community declares, unambiguously, for the first time, that nuclear weapons are not only immoral, but also illegal. There should be no doubt that the draft before us establishes a clear, categorical ban on the worst weapons of mass destruction.
This treaty forbids a state party from claiming to be protected by these abhorrent devices, or engaging in any military preparations to use them. A state party allied to a nuclear-armed state must ensure that its defence plans and security policies do not involve or foresee, in any circumstances whatsoever, the possible use of nuclear weapons by that state on its behalf.
The treaty also forbids a state party from financing the development and manufacture of nuclear weapons, whether directly or indirectly. And no state party may permit the transit of nuclear weapons through its territorial waters, land or airspace. All such activities would violate the letter and spirit of this treaty. The absence of explicit references to them in no way implies that they are lawful. This ban is comprehensive.
We are overwhelmingly positive about the draft treaty, and have urged all delegations to support its adoption on Friday. We believe that it achieves what we set out to do: to outlaw nuclear weapons and provide a pathway to their total elimination.