The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, adopted in 2017, is now halfway towards entering into force. This important milestone was reached on 6 August, the anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima, when Bolivia became the 25th nation to ratify the treaty.
“I am thrilled and excited to hear this news,” reacted Hiroshima A-bomb survivor Setsuko Thurlow. “We atomic bomb survivors, the Hibakusha, have told the world of the ultimate evil of nuclear weapons, through sharing our own experiences and suffering. This contributed to the international recognition of the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, which led to the adoption of the nuclear ban treaty at the United Nations on July 7, 2017. Two years later on this day, the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, the number of countries who accept this legal norm has reached half of 50 – the number needed to enter into force. As someone who experienced the unspeakable horrors of the atomic bomb 74 years ago to this day, as just a young 13-year-old girl, there is no greater pleasure.” Read Setsuko Thurlow’s full statement, in English and Japanese, here.
“It is fitting that this important milestone was reached on the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima,” said ICAN’s Executive Director, Beatrice Fihn. “With the recent collapse of the INF treaty, the US withdrawal from the Iran deal, and the increased modernization programmes of nuclear arsenals, this is an important signal from countries around the world that nuclear weapons cannot in any way be legitimate for any nation. Responsible nations are stepping up to push for the complete prohibition and elimination of these weapons of mass destruction.”
Rapid progress towards entry into force
A total of 50 ratifications are needed for the treaty to become binding international law.
Latin American countries are leading the way in ratifying the treaty. Nine countries in the region have now ratified it — Bolivia, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Uruguay and Venezuela — while the rest are signatories, with the exception of Argentina.
Later this year, Bolivia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Sacha Llorentty Solíz, will become chair of the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, a forum that deals with disarmament and international security. Bolivia’s ratification of this treaty shows that it takes disarmament seriously and is well qualified to perform this leadership role.
ICAN partner organization Bolivian Women’s Efforts welcomed the ratification, saying that it reflected Bolivia’s longstanding commitment to achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world. SEHLAC (Seguridad Humana en Latinoamérica y el Caribe), which is also part of ICAN, has been actively promoting adherence to the treaty across Latin America and the Caribbean.
“With hope that the number of states submitting their instruments of ratification to the United Nations continues to grow, the Hibakusha will make all efforts to progress as soon as possible to a world free of nuclear weapons,” commented the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations Nihon Hidankyo. Read the full statement by Nihon Hidankyo here.
The United Nations will convene a high-level ceremony in New York on 26 September at which several nations from different regions of the world are expected to sign and ratify the treaty. ICAN will continue to call on all leaders to join this treaty without delay, as nuclear weapons are not in any way a legitimate form of defence and have catastrophic humanitarian consequences.