ACTION ALERT: Tell Your UN Ambassador

February 20th, 2016 - by admin

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) – 2016-02-20 00:45:20

ACTION ALERT: Tell Your UN Ambassador “It’s Time for a Ban on Nuclear Weapons”

(February 19, 2016) — There are 16,000 nuclear weapons in the world. There are nine states that possess nuclear weapons. Five additional NATO states have nuclear weapons stationed on their territory. A single one could create a humanitarian catastrophe.

Nuclear weapons are the only weapons of mass destruction that have not yet been ruled illegal under international law. For the first time in history we can do something about it! It’s time to make things right and ban nuclear weapons for good.

Today, more than 110 states from all parts of the world have endorsed the Humanitarian Pledge, committing to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.


How Would a Ban Work?
Indiscriminate, inhumane and unacceptable weapons should be banned. But nuclear weapons is still the only weapons of mass destruction not yet prohibited by an international treaty. By negotiating a treaty banning nuclear weapons, we can both correct this legal anomaly and create a tool to compel nuclear-armed states to dismantle and eliminate their existing weapons.

With other weapons of mass destruction, the prohibition of weapons has preceded and paved the way for their elimination. With landmines and chemical and biological weapons, the negotiation of a treaty prohibiting these weapons supported their disuse, dismantlement, and eventual elimination.

At a conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons in Vienna, Austria, in December 2014, the Chair identified that there exists no comprehensive legal norm prohibiting nuclear weapons. The Austrian government then issued a “Humanitarian Pledge”, where it committed to work to fill the legal gap on nuclear weapons.

Today, more than 110 states from all parts of the world have endorsed the Humanitarian Pledge, committing to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons. It is therefore time for these states to launch negotiations of a legally binding treaty to ban nuclear weapons.

ICAN expects governments to start working on such treaty this year, even if the nuclear-armed states do not participate.

It is time to ban nuclear weapons!

Dear Ambassador,

I write to you because I am deeply concerned about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that nuclear weapons pose.

Nuclear weapons are indiscriminate, inhumane and unacceptable weapons. They need to be prohibited by an international treaty.

On Monday 22 February, all governments have the possibility to participate in the Open-Ended Working Group on “taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations” in Geneva, Switzerland.

This working group is an excellent place for all governments to start discussing the legal measures needed to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.

I urge you to participate fully in the working group and engage in discussions to negotiate a new treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons.

Yours sincerely . . .

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a global campaign coalition of more than 400 partner organizations in 95 countries. For more info visit

The Effects of Nuclear Weapons
Are Inhumane and Unacceptable

Nuclear weapons are the most destructive, inhumane and indiscriminate weapons ever created. A single nuclear bomb detonated over a large city could kill hundreds of thousands of people in just a few seconds. The effects would spread across regions and would affect unborn generations, and the humanitarian suffering would be immeasurable.

The immediate impact of a nuclear detonation would be:

* An initial blast, where the pressure wave causes direct injuries, structural collapse and transforms objects and people into missiles hurtling through the air and into one another.

* A heat wave, as the temperature of a nuclear fireball is in the range of 1 million to 100 million degrees Celsius. This results in both direct (flash) burns of any exposed living thing and flame burns from fires that ignite over a wide area. Anyone who instinctively glances at the fireball would risk flash blindness and retinal burns.

* Fires, as the ignition of numerous fires would consume all flammable materials and available oxygen, and the number of direct deaths caused by these fires would be 3-to-4 times that caused by the blast itself.

* Radiation, the initial pulse of neutrons and gamma rays emitted from a nuclear explosion would irradiate all living things directly exposed.

A nuclear explosion would also cause an environmental catastrophe, as the local surroundings would be severely impacted by both radiation (fallout) and non- radiation (fire, blast, shock).

In addition, a nuclear detonation will cause long-term effects that will affect generations to come;

* Higher rates of cancer, genetic defects, and problems with reproductive systems.

* Displacement of people from their homes and communities

* Interruptions to the supply of food and petroleum within the country where the nuclear explosion has occurred;

* Disruptions to the global supply of goods and its impact on the local economy, the business sector, and the stock market;

* Damage to infrastructure, lives, and livelihoods

(Source: Unspeakable Suffering: the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, 2013, Reaching Critical Will)

In Case of Nuclear Detonation,
No Meaningful Humanitarian Relief Would Be Possible

In case of such catastrophic humanitarian disaster, first responders such as the International Red Cross or the United Nations have admitted there is little support or relief it could offer in the event of a nuclear detonation.

Members of emergency services, other disaster responders, health care professionals, and the many people who may be called to assist in responses to humanitarian emergencies would face unique dangers and difficulties following any nuclear explosion.

Widespread and persistent radioactivity would severely complicate and hamper access and relief efforts. No government, international organization, non-governmental organization or collaborative body has either realistic plans or the capacity to mount an effective international assistance response in the event of a nuclear detonation.

The decimation of infrastructure and the radioactive danger posed to first responders would prevent the most acutely-affected areas from being reached. Aside from the hundreds of thousands of immediate deaths, those injured would be left without little or no medical assistance.

The attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki have shown the extent of the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. More than 200,000 men, women and children have been the victims of those attacks.

Weapons like chemical and biological weapons, land mines and cluster munitions have all been declared illegal because of their indiscriminate, inhumane and unacceptable consequences. But nuclear weapons, the most destructive of them all, are still considered legitimate. This legal anomaly needs to be corrected through a new treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons.

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