A new international treaty declaring nuclear weapons illegal has been agreed on Friday 7th July, following weeks of negotiations at the United Nations in New York. For the first time, it will be explicitly contrary to international law to "develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices."
The treaty, drawing heavily on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons, also contains provision on providing assistance for victims and environmental remediation, and explicitly recognises the disproportionate impact of nuclear weapons on women and children.
While nuclear-armed states boycotted the talks, the new treaty will play an important role in stigmatising and de-legitimising the possession of nuclear weapons, and has been hailed by campaigners as an major milestone which brings the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons significantly closer.
Responding to the historic vote, Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of the International Campaign to abolish Nuclear Weapons, said, "This treaty comprehensively bans nuclear weapons and related activities. We hope that today marks the beginning of the end for nuclear weapons. We now will work to ensure that all countries committed to international humanitarian law and human rights match their values and words with action."
Welcoming the agreement of the treaty, Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament chairperson Dr David Hutchinson Edgar said, "This is an important step towards a world free of the horrific threat of nuclear war. The determined efforts of civil society campaigners and states opposed to weapons of mass destruction have shown that progress is possible even in the face of the failure by nuclear-armed states to live up to their legal obligations to disarm under the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty."
"It is also particularly encouraging for Irish CND, as the main Irish voice in campaigning against nuclear weapons, to see that the Irish government has played a prominent role in bringing this treaty to reality," he continued.
The treaty opens for signature at the UN in September, and will enter into force when it has been ratified by 50 countries.