At last! SEVENTY-FIVE YEARS since the US dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the UN Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons has come into effect, having been ratified by 50 countries.
As of 22 January this year, those countries that have ratified, are banned from producing, testing, acquiring, possessing or stockpiling nuclear weapons. It also outlaws the transfer of the weapons and forbids signatories from allowing any nuclear explosive device to be stationed, installed or deployed in their territory.
The Treaty also commits member nations to provide long-neglected assistance for the victims of atomic bombs and weapon testing. It also calls for nations to clean up environments contaminated by nuclear weapons use and testing, where feasible.
None of the nine nuclear powers: US, China, Russia, France, the UK, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea…. has signed or ratified the Treaty. The 27 members of NATO, Australia, Japan and South Korea, have also not signed.
Yet the Treaty does offer hope. It tells the world that global public opinion demands a global moral commitment to rid the world from these extremely deadly weapons.
Pressure will grow. More countries will sign and ratify. Surely the Covid19 has taught the world that we are all in this together.
Early on the morning of 22 January , peace activists gathered on the Brighton Pier at Christchurch.
A most suitable gathering, Cantabrians welcoming the dawn of the beginning of an important step towards sanity. Symbolic too, as much of the long struggle to create and promote the Treaty originated with Cantabrians including Dr Kate Dewes. The speaker in the photo is Lucy Stewart who with another young person, is learning to take over some of the responsibility of running the Disarmament and Security Centre that Kate Dewes and her husband Rob Green have co-directed for so many years.
Standing near Lucy, ready to speak, is Kate Dewes.
Martin and I broadcast a Christchurch Community Radio called Earthwise. Please listen to our interview with Kate. You can find it here , type in Earthwise, look down the list of podcasts.
I could add more but have left it to the reader to listen to Kate. She discusses Mordechai Vanunu, hated by the Israeli regime for alerting the world to Israel’s nuclear program. And she exposes the size of the Israeli nuclear arsenal..both taboo subjects.
The legalizing of the UN Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons is a much-needed turning point in human history.
Is it too late? The Doomsday Clock is closer to midnight than ever before.
Lois Griffiths is a human rights activist.