Sunday, November 22, 2020

Imminent Entry into Force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

 Statement of Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy and

Western States Legal Foundation on the Imminent Entry into

Force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

24 October 2020

 As of today, 50 states have ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). By its terms, the treaty will enter into force in 90 days, becoming legally binding for states that have joined the treaty.

 The treaty was negotiated in 2017 by 122 states, none of them possessors of nuclear arms. They took responsibility for creating a path toward the global elimination of nuclear weapons, essentially because the world’s most powerful states—all nuclear-armed—are failing to do so despite the disarmament obligation set forth in the Nonproliferation Treaty.

 The U.S. government reportedly has been pressing states that have ratified the TPNW to withdraw their ratifications so that the treaty does not enter into force. This tactic will not succeed. Further, the overall U.S. approach of opposing the TPNW, on display since negotiations began, is entirely wrongheaded. The United States should instead welcome the treaty as a reinforcement of obligations of non-acquisition of nuclear weapons set out in regional nuclear-weapon-free zones treaties and the Nonproliferation Treaty and as a powerful statement of the moral, political, and legal principles that should guide the abolition of nuclear arms.

 The TPNW robustly recognizes and reinforces existing international law requiring the non-use and elimination of nuclear weapons. That law applies to states whether or not they join the treaty, as the treaty’s preamble recognizes.

  • The preamble reaffirms the need for all states at all times to comply with international humanitarian law forbidding the infliction of indiscriminate harm and unnecessary suffering and with international human rights law, and considers that any use of nuclear weapons would be contrary to international humanitarian law.
  • It also reaffirms the universal obligation to pursue in good faith and conclude negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control. This obligation was affirmed in a unanimous conclusion of the International Court of Justice in a 1996 Advisory Opinion.

In an innovation in the nuclear weapons sphere reflecting the rise of “humanitarian disarmament,” the TPNW sets forth obligations of assistance to victims of testing and use of nuclear weapons and of environmental remediation of areas affected by testing and use. It also requires states parties in a position to do so to assist affected states parties with victim assistance and environmental remediation. These provisions are important because they recognize and address concretely the unacceptable suffering and devastation that have resulted from the use and testing of nuclear arms—which could result again if current trends in global affairs are not reversed.

The United States should roll back its opposition to the TPNW and instead should embrace the treaty’s vision of a more democratic world in which nuclear weapons have no place and of a paradigm shift toward human security rather than the security of states.

Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy and Western States Legal Foundation are affiliates of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, a partner of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. [

Saturday, October 24, 2020 7:31 PM
Nuclear Ban Treaty to Enter into Force - Statement of LCNP and WSLF

Dear Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration Committee:

Today, the nation of Honduras ratified the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which along with ratifications yesterday by Jamaica and Nauru, brings the total number of ratifications to 50. The Treaty--which is modeled on existing treaties that ban inhumane weapons of war including biological and chemical weapons, land mines, and cluster munitions--stipulates that it will enter into force 90 days after the 50th nation ratifies it. At long last, nuclear weapons will be declared illegal!

Back from the Brink celebrates this historic milestone in the global movement to abolish nuclear weapons and prevent nuclear war. The TPNW makes it illegal under international law to “develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess, or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” The Treaty also contains provisions aimed at rectifying past injustices, requiring state parties to provide environmental remediation and assistance to victims of nuclear weapons use and testing. It was adopted by 122 nations in July 2017 and to date has been signed by leaders of 84 countries, with more expected to sign and ratify over time.

The TPNW does not directly impact nations that are not yet party to it, including the nine countries that possess nuclear weapons, but its strong moral force will change global norms and ultimately, behaviors. For example, financial institutions will face increased calls to divest from nuclear weapons now that they are prohibited by international law. Many have already done so. As the Treaty enters into force, nuclear weapons will be further stigmatized.

It’s important to acknowledge that the TPNW was made possible in large part by the tireless efforts of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) with over 400 Partner Organizations in 103 countries, and civil society. Campaigners had to tune out powerful naysayers, stay focused on their goals, and persevere until they made the TPNW a reality. Back from the Brink congratulates ICAN, its Partner Organizations, campaigners, and everyone who worked to make this day possible. 

It is no surprise that the United States government opposes the TPNW and is planning to replace its entire nuclear arsenal with enhanced weapons. But this is where Back from the Brink - and YOU - come in. Like ICAN, Back from the Brink depends on the active participation of organizations and individuals organizing locally in their communities. Together, we’ve brought resolutions before over 50 municipal and state governments, requiring representatives to listen to their constituents testify about the danger of nuclear weapons and common sense policy solutions and then decide where they stand. And, more than two-thirds of the resolutions adopted explicitly express support for the TPNW.

Town by town, city by city, Back from the Brink is demonstrating that Americans are not complacent about nuclear weapons. If enough people get involved in this campaign, we too can build a movement in the United States that policymakers cannot ignore.

Our country is facing multiple crises that lay bare extraordinary economic and racial disparities and the folly of our financial priorities. It’s up to us to engage policymakers and the public in a candid discussion about nuclear weapons spending and alternative investments we could make in healthcare, economic stimulus programs, police and criminal justice reform, solutions to the climate crisis, education, and many other pressing community needs.

We can do it. Today, what once seemed impossible is not only possible, it is reality - in 90 days, nuclear weapons will be illegal under international law. Let us be inspired by this tremendous accomplishment and persevere with renewed hope. Each and every local Back from the Brink effort makes a difference and brings us closer to our goal of a world without nuclear weapons. Please check out our Advocacy Tools to start organizing in your community, and if you need help or have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at
Back from the Brink organizers

Donations can be sent to Max Obuszewski, Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 431 Notre Dame Lane, Apt. 206, Baltimore, MD 21212.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs



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