50 Nations Sign UN Nuclear Ban Treaty

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The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, or the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty, is the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons, with the goal of leading towards their total elimination.

It was passed on 7 July 2017. In order to come into effect, signature and ratification by at least 50 countries is required.

For those nations that are party to it, the treaty prohibits the development, testing, production, stockpiling, stationing, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons, as well as assistance and encouragement to the prohibited activities.

For nuclear armed states joining the treaty, it provides for a time-bound framework for negotiations leading to the verified and irreversible elimination of its nuclear weapons programme.

According to a mandate adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2016, negotiations on the treaty began in the United Nations in March 2017 and continued from 15 June to 7 July 2017.

In the vote on the treaty text, 122 were in favour, 1 voted against (Netherlands), and 1 abstained (Singapore). 69 nations did not vote, among them all of the nuclear weapon states and all NATO members except the Netherlands.

The Treaty – adopted on 7 July this year at a UN conference in New York by a vote of 122 in favour to one against (Netherlands), with one abstention (Singapore) – prohibits a full range of nuclear-weapon-related activities, such as undertaking to develop, test, produce, manufacture, acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, as well as the use or threat of use of these weapons.

However, nuclear-armed States and most of their allies stayed out of the negotiations. Immediately following its adoption, the United States, the United Kingdom and France issued a joint press statement saying that they “have not taken part in the negotiation of the treaty… and do not intend to sign, ratify or ever become party to it.”

The Treaty will enter into force 90 days after it has been ratified by at least 50 countries.

As of 22 September 2017, 53 states have signed the Treaty and three have ratified it.

State Signed Ratified
 Algeria 20 September 2017
 Austria 20 September 2017
 Bangladesh 20 September 2017
 Brazil 20 September 2017
 Cape Verde 20 September 2017
 Central African Republic 20 September 2017
 Chile 20 September 2017
 Comoros 20 September 2017
 Congo, Democratic Republic of the 20 September 2017
 Congo, Republic of the 20 September 2017
 Costa Rica 20 September 2017
 Cote d’Ivoire 20 September 2017
 Cuba 20 September 2017
 Ecuador 20 September 2017
 El Salvador 20 September 2017
 Fiji 20 September 2017
 Gambia, The 20 September 2017
 Ghana 20 September 2017
 Guatemala 20 September 2017
 Guyana 20 September 2017 20 September 2017
 Honduras 20 September 2017
 Indonesia 20 September 2017
 Ireland 20 September 2017
 Kiribati 20 September 2017
 Laos 21 September 2017
 Libya 20 September 2017
 Liechtenstein 20 September 2017
 Madagascar 20 September 2017
 Malawi 20 September 2017
 Malaysia 20 September 2017
 Mexico 20 September 2017
 Nepal 20 September 2017
 New Zealand 20 September 2017
 Nicaragua 22 September 2017
 Nigeria 20 September 2017
 Palau 20 September 2017
 Palestine 20 September 2017
 Panama 20 September 2017
 Paraguay 20 September 2017
 Peru 20 September 2017
 Philippines 20 September 2017
 Samoa 20 September 2017
 San Marino 20 September 2017
 Sao Tome and Principe 20 September 2017
 South Africa 20 September 2017
 Thailand 20 September 2017 20 September 2017
 Togo 20 September 2017
 Tuvalu 20 September 2017
 Uruguay 20 September 2017
 Vanuatu 20 September 2017
 Vatican City 20 September 2017 20 September 2017
 Venezuela 20 September 2017
 Vietnam 22 September 2017
Total 53 3

Main Provisions of the Treaty:

Article 1 contains prohibitions against the development, testing, production, stockpiling, stationing, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons, as well as against assistance and encouragement to the prohibited activities. Finally, any direct or indirect “control over nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices” is forbidden.

Article 2 requires each party to declare whether it had nuclear weapons of their own or deployed on its territory, including the elimination or conversion of related facilities.

Article 3 requires parties that do not possess nuclear weapons to maintain their existing IAEA safeguards and, if they have not already done so, to accept safeguards based on the model for non-nuclear-weapon states under the NPT.

Article 4 sets out general procedures for negotiations with an individual nuclear armed state becoming party to the treaty, including time limits and responsibilities. If that state has eliminated its nuclear weapons before becoming a party to the treaty, an unspecified “competent international authority” will verify that elimination, and the state must also conclude a safeguards agreement with the IAEA to provide credible assurance that it has not diverted nuclear material and has no undeclared nuclear material or activities. If that state has not yet destroyed its arsenal, it must negotiate with that “competent international authority” a time-bound plan for the verified and irreversible elimination of its nuclear weapons programme, which will submit it to the next meeting of signing states or to the next review conference, whichever comes first.

Article 5 is about national implementation. Article 6 obliges to environmental remediation and to assistance for the victims of the use and testing of nuclear weapons.

According to Article 7, states should assist each other to these purposes, with special responsibility of the nuclear powers. More generally, all state parties shall cooperate to facilitate the implementation of the treaty.

Article 8 fixes meetings of states parties, the costs of which are shared by the states according to the UN scale of assessment (Article 9).

Articles 10–12 are about the possibility of amendments, the settlement of disputes and the “goal of universal adherence of all States to the Treaty”.

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