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Hiroshima and Nagasaki anniversary

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On 6 and 9 August, the world will commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This comes at a moment when a majority of governments around the world are preparing to sign the recently adopted Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

On 6 and 9 August, the world will commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This comes at a moment when a majority of governments around the world are preparing to sign the recently adopted Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

The use of nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed civilians and military personnel indiscriminately and highlighted the terrible inhumane consequences for survivors. Governments around the world have for this reason adopted a new treaty making nuclear weapons illegal under international law.

“As a schoolgirl, I witnessed my city of Hiroshima blinded by the flash, flattened by the hurricane-like blast, burned in the heat of 4000 degrees Celsius and contaminated by the radiation of one atomic bomb. These weapons have always been immoral and I am now overjoyed that the majority of the world are about to make them illegal," says Setsuko Thurlow, peace activist and survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

"A majority of the world’s governments now are ready to consider any use and possession of nuclear weapons unacceptable. The treaty will open for states to sign it at the United Nations in New York on 20 September, and we urge all governments committed to nuclear disarmament and international humanitarian law to sign this treaty,” says Beatrice Fihn, executive director of ICAN.

The treaty is a clear indication that the majority of the world no longer accepts nuclear weapons and does not consider them legitimate tools of war. The repeated objection and boycott of the negotiations by many nuclear weapon states demonstrates that this treaty has the potential to significantly impact their behaviour. As has been true with previous weapon prohibition treaties, changing international norms leads to concrete changes in policies, even in states not party to the treaty.