Passage of the treaty happened on October 24, 2020, an already auspicious date — the 75th anniversary of the United Nations — when Honduras became the 50th U.N. member state to ratify the convention. With this treaty, each ratifying country is telling the world to follow them in investing in peace and human security; and on January 22, 2021, it will become international law.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres commented that its passage represents the “culmination of a worldwide movement to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons.” The treaty requires that signatories should never under any circumstances “develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” The accord also prohibits the transfer or use of nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices and the threat to use such weapons.
Nine nuclear-armed powers, including the United States, continue to stand unified against the treaty, and they should be ashamed. The message of this treaty is that the world must do more than just “reduce nuclear risks.” The world must eliminate nuclear risks by eliminating nuclear weapons.
Rev. Dr. Emma Jordan-Simpson, executive director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the U.S. branch of a global movement founded in 1914, expressed a note of optimism at the new international law. “In the face of potential backlash, the ratification of this treaty by 50 nations is evidence that millions of people across the world believe another world is possible. A billion more people represented by the additional countries that have signed this treaty, but not yet ratified it, represents a formidable momentum toward the rejection of the lie that safety and security can only be achieved through the build-up of world-destroying nuclear weapons.”
Dr. Jordan-Simpson continued, “The world is being ravaged by a lethal pandemic, the effects of which could have been mitigated to some degree by the resources that have foolishly been lavished on the 26 major corporations that lobby to produce more nuclear weapons. Instead of guaranteeing the profitability of the 382 banks, insurance companies, pension funds and asset managers invested in the nuclear weapons industry, we could be using those resources to guarantee medical equipment, income, and food.
“The fact that such a large group of nations is moving forward to outlaw nuclear weapons is a welcome sign of sanity and hope. I believe peacemaking begins at home,” declared Dr. Jordan-Simpson. “Many have called this treaty naïve and meaningless, yet it serves as inspiration to those with the vision and commitment to work to secure a wise, just, and meaningful future for our children and the planet. That reality of that future rises brightly as we reject the idea of national security through weapons and bombs, and as we reject the idea of community safety through policing and prisons.”
We recognize and honor all those who have worked tirelessly toward this outcome, especially the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. Through the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, our global movement active in more than 50 nations, FOR-USA is proud to have stood among ICAN’s grassroots partners around the world who have collaborated to make possible this historic ratification.