Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Building a norm against nuclear weapons

Back in 2017, the UN General Assembly approved the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and New Zealand was one of the first countries to sign. Now, a 50th ratification is finally going to bring it into force:

Campaigners have hailed a "new chapter" after a key step by the United Nations towards banning nuclear arms.

Honduras has become the 50th country to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons so it will now come into force in 90 days' time.

New Zealand and many Pacific nations including Samoa, Fiji, Niue, Tuvalu, Cook Islands and Kiribati are among the signatories.

Some media outlets (in nuclear-armed states) are calling the Treaty "symbolic", but that's missing the point. Sure, nuclear-armed states and their NATO vassals have refused to sign. But the rest of the world has, and as with a landmine ban, the cluster bomb ban, and the chemical weapons ban, that will be enough to establish a norm that the possession (let alone use) of nuclear weapons is a violation of international law, effectively defining the great powers and their lackeys as rogue states, and companies which support their nuclear weapons as criminal enterprises. The latter are the real weak point, because these multinationals are going to be forced to choose between supporting nuclear weapons programmes, or doing business with the rest of the world. But it should also increase the pressure on governments to disarm - which is an obligation they've already signed up for under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.