Late last week, the United Nations adopted a historic measure which would make owning and possessing nuclear weaponry a crime under international law. According to the terms of the new agreement, which was signed and recognized by 122 countries, the treaty would prohibit states from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, or acquiring nuclear weapons in the future. The treaty would also prohibit states from using or threatening to use nuclear weapons and would prohibit them from allowing any stationing, installation or deployment of any nuclear weapons in their territory.
According to a press release from the United Nations, the primary goal of the treaty was to establish the framework of an “open-ended working group,” which would “address concrete effective legal measures, legal provisions and norms that would need to be concluded to attain and maintain a world without nuclear weapons.” Though the treaty was officially adopted this week, countries will not be allowed to formally sign the document until September 20th 2017.
Veiw Full Text of UN Nuclear Treaty: http://www.undocs.org/en/a/conf.229/2017/L.3/Rev.1
As it stands today, there are only 9 countries across the world whom currently possess nuclear weaponry and ultimately, the hope of this weeks treaty is to prevent a 10th country from ever developing or buying them. The United Nations is also hopeful that these developments will help lay the groundwork for future negotiations to reduce the number of nuclear weapons currently stockpiled across the world.
As for how this treaty first came about, as reported by Project Green Peace on January 7th 2017, “Over the last three weeks, 140 countries have engaged in final negotiations of the new treaty. The nine states with nuclear weapons (US, Russia, China, France, UK, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea) have been boycotting the meeting in an attempt to rob the process of its legitimacy.” Green Peace explains that the absence of these nine countries is significant because, unless one of these countries goes on to ratify the treaty, they will not be bound by it. This essentially means that while this weeks announcement is a historic first step, at this point in time it is nothing more than symbolic gesture and the treaty will not be a legally binding document enforced under international law.
Another rights group, Amnesty International, surmised how this weeks resolution “brings us a step closer to a world free from the horrors of nuclear weapons, the most destructive and indiscriminate weapons ever created.” Amnesty also calls on all countries to “give their full backing to this antidote to the cynical brinkmanship embodied in the development, stockpiling or use of nuclear weapons.” Adding that “Today’s vote shows that a majority of states consider a global prohibition on nuclear weapons to be the best option for protecting the world from their catastrophic effects. And it shows once again how a strong civil society-led effort can inspire real change on the world stage.“