ICAN statement First Committee 2020


"Amid this pandemic, there has been hope." On October 13 2020, ICAN campaigner and steering group member Linnet Ng'ayu addressed the UN’s Disarmament and International Security Committee, highlighting how close the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was to reaching the 50th ratification needed for its entry into force and how important that moment would be. On 24 October 2020, the TPNW reached that historic milestone. Read the full statement below

“We must not sleepwalk into a crisis of even greater proportions than the one we have experienced this year.”

These are the words of over fifty high-ranking officials from NATO states in an open letter, calling on their governments to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. 

They understand that the existence of nuclear weapons poses an unacceptable risk to global health and security. They understand that global threats require multilateral solutions.

We live in a world with over 13,000 nuclear weapons, many of which are ready to be used at a moment’s notice. Just nine countries possess the destructive power to end life on earth as we know it. To unleash devastating humanitarian consequences and plunge the world into a nuclear winter.

But we also live in a world where the voices of the many can stand up to the powerful few. Living during a pandemic has taught us to heed the warnings of scientists and medical professionals about the risks of global threats. And to listen to the lived experiences of survivors to understand the dangers we face.

In this security environment, in 2020 alone, four countries signed and twelve have ratified or acceded to the landmark Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Only three more countries need to ratify this treaty for it to enter into force and become binding international law.

Once the treaty enters into force, states parties and civil society will lead the way to its full implementation and universalisation. Around the world, countries, companies and people will see the treaty’s impact. It will be a major milestone toward the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.

Seventy-five years have passed since the founding of the United Nations. Seventy-five years have passed since the world first witnessed the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. The adoption and imminent entry into force of the TPNW builds on decades of disarmament activism and multilateral diplomacy. We are at a pivotal moment.

It is time for each and every member state of the United Nations, including nuclear-armed states, to ask themselves if they will be a part of the solution or a part of the problem.

We urge all states to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and stand on the right side of history.