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Lesotho ratifies UN nuclear weapon ban treaty

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On 6 June 2020, Lesotho ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, becoming the third member of the Southern African Development Community to do so, after South Africa and Namibia. The landmark treaty, which comprehensively outlaws the worst weapons of mass destruction and establishes a framework to eliminate them, will enter into legal force once 12 more nations have ratified it.

Lesotho participated in the negotiation of the treaty in 2017, hailing its adoption by 122 nations as “a historic achievement of our time”. It said that “it must be ratified and implemented by all”. The foreign minister of Lesotho signed the treaty at a high-level ceremony in New York last September.

In a statement to the United Nations in October, Lesotho welcomed “the steadily increasing number” of UN member states becoming signatories to the treaty and pledged to support “all efforts to enhance the institutional fabric of this treaty”. It co-sponsored a UN General Assembly resolution in December that called upon all states to sign, ratify, or accede to the treaty “at the earliest possible date”.

The treaty was negotiated in response to the ever-deepening concern of the international community at the catastrophic consequences that would result from any use of nuclear weapons. No nation is immune to these consequences: people in neighbouring and distant nations who have nothing to do with the conflict would suffer from the effects of radioactive fallout, climate disruption, and resource insecurity.

Furthermore, nuclear weapon programmes divert tens of billions of dollars every year from health care, education, disaster relief, and other vital services. The preamble to the treaty expresses concern at “the waste of economic and human resources” on such programmes. By ratifying the treaty, Lesotho has helped strengthen the global norm against the use and possession of nuclear weapons by any nation.

8 June 2020