Philippines ratifies UN nuclear weapon ban treaty

The Philippines has become the 53rd country to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which entered into force on 22 January. President Rodrigo Duterte hailed the ratification as a milestone and reiterated his country’s commitment to work with others to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world for “peace, security, and the survival of all humanity”.

The Philippine senate unanimously approved ratification on 1 February, with the permanent mission of the Philippines to the United Nations in New York depositing the instrument of ratification with the UN secretary-general, António Guterres, on 18 February.

The treaty is “the first globally applicable multilateral agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons on the basis of international humanitarian law”, said Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, who was responsible for initiating the resolution to enable the ratification. “The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings in Japan are horrors that should never be repeated.”

The Philippines played an important role in the negotiation of the treaty in 2017. It noted that the “present geopolitical realities” make progress in the field of nuclear disarmament all the more important and urgent. Upon signing the treaty that year, it said: “If we listen to each other, we will hear the same thing. We have no need for nuclear weapons.”

The Center for Peace Education at Miriam College, an ICAN partner organisation in the Philippines, has worked for many years under the outstanding leadership of Loreta Castro and Jasmin Nario-Galace to raise public awareness about the treaty and to build political support for it. They warmly welcomed the news of the ratification today.

The Philippines is the sixth member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to ratify the landmark treaty, after Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia, and Cambodia. The development is in line with the country’s constitution of 1987, which mandates it to adopt and pursue a policy of freedom from nuclear weapons in its territory.