40th Nation Ratifies UN Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty

July 18th, 2020 - by The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)

Botswana Ratifies UN Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) 

 (July 15, 2020) — Botswana has become the 40th nation to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons – a landmark global agreement negotiated in 2017 to outlaw the worst weapons of mass destruction and establish a framework for their total elimination. Only 10 more ratifications are now needed to reach the threshold of 50 ratifications for the treaty’s entry into force.

Botswana deposited its instrument of ratification with the UN Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres, on 15 July, becoming the third member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to ratify the treaty this year, after Namibia and Lesotho. South Africa, which is also a SADC member, ratified it in 2019.

Botswana’s ratification coincides with the 11th anniversary of the entry into force of the Treaty of Pelindaba, which established the whole of Africa as a nuclear-weapon-free zone. This timing underscores the complementary relationship between the two treaties. In 2018, all parties to the Treaty of Pelindaba made a commitment to “speedily sign and ratify” the new global nuclear weapon ban treaty.

“In concluding this milestone step,” said Amb. Collen Vixen Kelapile, Botswana’s permanent representative to the United Nations, “Botswana has once again reconfirmed its unwavering commitment to global peace and security through prohibition of nuclear weapons as a concrete means towards full implementation of the disarmament agenda.”

He said that Botswana took pride in being counted among the earliest states parties to the treaty and encouraged “all other peace-loving nations to collectively join hands and contribute to this noble endeavour for the prohibition of all nuclear weapons”.

Despite the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic around the world, steady progress continues to be made towards entry into force of the nuclear weapon ban treaty. Just last week, Fiji became the 39th state to ratify it, commenting that the UN Secretary-General’s “agenda for disarmament” had become “even more important in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic” and calling for money currently expended on nuclear armaments to be redirected towards the well-being of humanity.

Botswana’s minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, Dr. Unity Dow — a judge, human rights activist, and writer — signed the nuclear weapon ban treaty last September at a high-level ceremony in New York. Her government has underscored “the significant role of the [treaty in] strengthening the global norms and practices against the use, proliferation, and possession of nuclear weapons by any country”.

Botswana has actively promoted universal adherence to the treaty, including by co-sponsoring a UN General Assembly resolution in 2019 that called upon all states to sign, ratify, or accede to the treaty “at the earliest possible date”.

The treaty was negotiated in response to the ever-deepening concern of the international community at the catastrophic consequences that would result from any use of nuclear weapons. No nation is immune to these consequences: people in neighbouring and distant nations who have nothing to do with the conflict would suffer from the effects of radioactive fallout, climate disruption, and resource insecurity.

Furthermore, nuclear weapon programmes divert tens of billions of dollarsevery year from health care, education, disaster relief, and other vital services. The preamble to the treaty expresses concern at “the waste of economic and human resources” on such programmes. By ratifying the treaty, Botswana has helped strengthen the global norm against the use and possession of nuclear weapons.

Botswana’s ratification comes less than a month before the world will mark the 75th anniversary of the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which claimed more than a quarter of a million lives. Survivors of those horrific attacks are urging all nations that have not yet ratified the treaty to do so by 6 August this year.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is a coalition of non-governmental organisations in one hundred countries promoting adherence to and implementation of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Marking the Third Anniversary of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

Nuclear Free Local Authorities Secretariat

(July 7, 2020) — On the third anniversary of the Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty, NFLA members make preparations for commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic weapon attacks

The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) welcomes the third anniversary of 122 countries passing a motion to develop the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). With it now receiving nearly 80% of the ratifications it needs to become international law, NFLA members hope such an action is part of a fitting commemoration of the 75th anniversary year of the atomic weapon attacks on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

With a month left until the exact 75th anniversary of the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, NFLA are also cooperating with its partner Mayors for Peace and with the Nobel Peace Laureate, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), of which the NFLA is a member, on plans to commemorate this pivotal anniversary.

At present, there are currently 81 signatories and 38 state parties to the TPNW. (1) When 50 states formally ratify the Treaty it will become a part of international law at the United Nations. Whilst the Covid-19 outbreak has inevitably slowed this process down, that milestone of 50 state parties is expected to be met in the not too distant future. Now a new Irish Government has been agreed upon it is likely to be one of those signatory states to become a state party after the Irish Parliament passed a bill prior to the recent general election. 

However, there remains a coalition of states – existing nuclear weapon states including the US, Russia, the UK, France and China, NATO member states and those with security ‘umbrella’ arrangements with NATO states such as Japan and Australia – who oppose the TPNW and see it as a diversion from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which is now to be reviewed in January 2021.

The NFLA works actively with the Mayors for Peace, who are led by Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to call for a world free from nuclear weapons. The TPNW allows for a meaningful way forward to multilateral nuclear disarmament, and it is fully supported by the majority of states in the world and civil society groups who have grown increasingly frustrated with the slow progress of the NPT review process.

This August, the Covid-19 outbreak has made it difficult to hold major public events to commemorate the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic weapon attacks and call for a more peaceful and nuclear weapon free world. The Hiroshima and Nagasaki peace ceremonies will go ahead with a much reduced capacity, which is disappointing given the age of survivors of the bomb, the hibakusha, are now on average 82 years old. The NFLA will work with its members to encourage appropriate statements and events to show its solidarity with Hiroshima and Nagasaki. NFLA host member, Manchester City Council, which is a Vice President of Mayors for Peace, is also encouraging all UK and Ireland members of Mayors for Peace to commemorate this important anniversary appropriately. 

NFLA also welcomes plans being made by the City of Hiroshima to host a special youth education webinar on August 4th (2), as well as a YouTube video of messages of support for ‘No More Hiroshima!’ and ‘No More Nagasaki!’, including by the Lord Mayor of Manchester. (3) NFLA also welcomes the many events that will take place around the world between the 6th and 9th August as part of the ‘Global Peace Wave’ supported by many civil society groups. (4)

NFLA Steering Committee Chair, Councillor David Blackburn added: > “NFLA was established almost 40 years ago at a time when the Cold War was at its height and the threat of the third use of nuclear weapons was a clear and present danger. There remains over 13,890 nuclear weapons in the world, and all the existing nuclear weapon states are spending billions of pounds in modernising them.

The Covid-19 outbreak has shown how vulnerable and interconnected the world is. The Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty is a progressive way the world can move towards multilateral disarmament. Following on from last week’s call for a global ceasefire at the United Nations, the world needs a move towards full reductions of all weapons of mass destruction. We never want to see another town or city destroyed by a nuclear weapon. Now is the time to act for peace.” For more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)161 234 3244.


(1) ICAN https://www.icanw.org/signature_and_ratification_status

(2) Mayors for Peace Global Peace Education Webinar –  http://www.mayorsforpeace.org/english/whatsnew/news/200701_news.html

(3) Mayors for Peace core concept for 2020: ‘No More Hiroshima! No More Nagasaki!’  http://www.mayorsforpeace.org/english/whatsnew/news/200626_news.html

(4) The Japan Council Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs – The Global Peace Wave http://www.antiatom.org/english/world_conference/peacewave.html

Nuclear Free Local Authorities Secretariat, c/o Manchester City Council, City Policy, Corporate Core, Town Hall Extension, Level 3, Library Walk, Manchester M60 2LA

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