The UN treaty banning nuclear weapons has been ratified by a fiftieth country. This means that the treaty will enter into force in ninety days. However, it only applies to the countries that have signed it, not to the Netherlands and nuclear powers such as the United States, Russia and China.
The treaty was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2017, but had to be ratified by 50 governments afterwards. Honduras did that as the fiftieth yesterday.
The new treaty goes a lot further than the Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968, which was signed by almost all UN member states. The old treaty limits the possession of nuclear weapons, the new one speaks of a worldwide ban.
The great nuclear powers have always been against the ban. The Netherlands, which has an air base in Volkel where American warheads are stored, already voted against it in 2017.
The entry into force is therefore largely symbolic, but the Red Cross nevertheless speaks of a historic day. Prior to the adoption of the treaty, nuclear weapons were the only weapons of mass destruction not covered by a categorical ban, such as the ban on biological and chemical weapons, landmines and cluster munitions, the organization said. “This new treaty thus fills a large gap in international law.”
Also pleased is the International Campaign for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which initiated the treaty and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 for it. Director Beatrice Fihn speaks of “a new chapter for nuclear disarmament”.