On 24 October 2020, the world became one step closer to bringing the era of nuclear weapons to an end, with the 50th ratification of the landmark Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).
The Treaty, which is the first global agreement to comprehensively ban nuclear weapons, will enter into force as an instrument of international humanitarian law in 90 days. It prohibits their use, the threat of use, development, production, testing, and stockpiling. It also commits States to clearing contaminated areas and helping victims. By providing pathways for the elimination of nuclear weapons, the TPNW is an indispensable building block towards a future free of nuclear weapons.
Since the first use of the atomic bomb 75 years ago, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement have long called on the non-use, prohibition, and elimination of nuclear weapons. With more than 14,000 nuclear bombs in the world, these weapons are beyond doubt the most terrifying and destructive means of warfare ever invented. The risk posed by their continued existence, and the impossibility of mounting a humanitarian response to their use, have long been the driving force behind the international campaign to ban such weapons.
Ireland has consistently advocated the complete prohibition and total elimination of nuclear weapons, and was a member of the Core Group of States who negotiated and played a significant leadership role in the process that led to the adoption of the TPNW in 2017. On 6 August 2020, Ireland ratified the TPNW.
While much work remains to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons, the ratification of their prohibition is a crucial step in our efforts in achieving this goal. Although the ban on nuclear weapons will not make them immediately disappear, it reinforces the stigma against their use, thus catalysing their total elimination.
For more information on Nuclear Weapons see here. Alternatively, to get involved with the Global Red Cross campaign please visit www.notonukes.org.