Support for negotiations on a nuclear weapon ban

March 22, 2016

Talks began at the United Nations in Geneva last month on new legal instruments and norms to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world. Many nations voiced support for negotiating a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons. Below is a selection of quotes from their statements. For further information, listen to our podcast or read the statements in full here.


Algeria “Algeria considers that one of the best ways to move nuclear disarmament forward would be to establish a global framework based on a multilateral binding legal commitment to prohibit nuclear weapons … A legal framework of this type would make it possible to bridge the existing structural and legal gaps, with the aim of delegitimizing these weapons and imposing a propitious dynamic for achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world.”
“This group should recommend to the [UN] General Assembly the negotiation of a treaty that would, at the outset, set the core prohibitions on use, possession, stockpiling, transfer and production of nuclear weapons, as well as fissile materials for nuclear weapons, which could of course be later amended … by protocols regarding elimination and verification. Although discussion would not immediately address concerns regarding the existing nuclear arsenals, it would constitute progress towards their elimination, as it would reinforce the international rule of a world free of nuclear weapons and set political parameters for it.”
Costa Rica
“Other delegations and civil society have spoken of a prohibition treaty … Costa Rica is one of the signatories of the Humanitarian Pledge, which calls for the identification and discovery of effective legal measures to fill the legal gap and move towards the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons … We believe that, from a strategic and practical point of view, the prohibition treaty can be one of the building blocks that bring us toward that goal.”
Indonesia “Any effective measure on nuclear disarmament needs to prohibit the use, threat of use, development, production, stockpiling, transfer, acquisition, deployment and financing of nuclear weapons. These prohibitions can be set out in a single comprehensive treaty which complements the existing legal regime on nuclear disarmament. A categorical prohibition on any activities related to nuclear weapons would ultimately close the existing legal loopholes. Despite existing legal instruments on nuclear non-proliferation, there remain legal loopholes that need to be addressed.”
Ireland “It is notable that nuclear weapons are now the only weapons of mass destruction not prohibited by law, despite the acknowledged capacity for the most devastating impact on humanity.”
Malaysia “On the larger question of bringing nuclear disarmament forward, possibly and perhaps likely without nuclear-armed states, we are of the view that whatever process appropriate can be pursued by those countries willing to do so, with nuclear-armed and other states having the opportunity to join on board. In this respect, the view expressed by Brazil on an option of negotiating a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons, with a solid foundation and basis – with a protocol … which could be negotiated at a later stage – is a proposal that merits further exchange and consideration.”
New Zealand “We see no reason why the pathway adopted for the elimination of other weapon systems, including for the elimination of both other types of WMD – that of a legally binding prohibition – should not equally be applicable as a pathway for the elimination of nuclear weapons. There is no need to reinvent the wheel in order for the international community to move forward … In our view, the essential element for legal measures and norms for attaining and maintaining a world without nuclear weapons is, above all, the requirement for a multilaterally negotiated global prohibition.”
“As the prohibition of these weapons is directly linked to their elimination, this legal gap should be addressed considering the unacceptable shortcomings in the regulation of activities tied to nuclear weapons – this includes their development, production, testing, transfer, acquisition, transportation, storage and stockpiling, distribution, use or threat of use, as well as assistance, financing, encouragement or incitement to activities that they promote.”
South Africa
“A ban treaty that would aim at stigmatizing the use and possession of nuclear weapons could obviously be pursued with or without the participation of nuclear-weapon states. Furthermore, given that more than two-thirds of the UN membership have associated themselves with the Humanitarian Pledge, there is clearly broad agreement that a legal gap exists and this needs to be addressed urgently. The arguments presented during this session make it clear that a ban treaty could serve as an effective interim measure, building block or as one of the steps towards the achievement of a world free of nuclear weapons.”
Switzerland “Nuclear weapons remaining the one category of weapons of mass destruction that are not yet comprehensively prohibited, there is a need to work on effective legal measures to fill this legal gap. In other words, it is timely to discuss the instruments that would lead to a nuclear-weapon-free world.”
Thailand “My delegation is of the view that we could narrow down the options to a prohibition nuclear ban treaty. This option takes forward prohibition first, elimination at a later date. It seems to be realistic, sets the norm immediately and creates a strong incentive for countries to comply while not setting in place a one-size-fits-all mechanism for compliance on elimination. It also offers the flexibility of leading us to a framework agreement at a later stage.”

  • 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