Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

The United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons comes into force today, 22 January, 2021. Canada has not signed the treaty. There is a long history of organizing towards nuclear abolition in Canada and Saskatchewan, and we felt it important to mark this occasion by providing some background and to help garner more support for getting Canada to sign on. A short review of the treaty follows:  

This treaty (aka “the Ban Treaty”) was negotiated in 2017, and at that time it was adopted by 122 states. The treaty required ratification by 50 states before it could come into force. On 24 October, 2020–United Nations Day–Honduras made history when it became the 50th State to ratify the Ban Treaty. This triggered the treaty’s formal entry into force. Now that 50 states have ratified the treaty, it will be a legally binding accord for those 50 states–and states that subsequently ratify it–as of 22 January, 2021.*  

Until now, the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has underpinned the global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime.  This new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons sets out a clear route to achieve the nuclear disarmament goal specified in Article VI of the NPT.  The Ban Treaty provides a comprehensive prohibition on nuclear weapons akin to that applied to other categories of weapons of mass destruction (namely, chemical weapons and biological weapons). Proponents see the treaty as filling the legal gap that has allowed nuclear weapons to be treated differently than other weapons of mass destruction.  

It is shameful that Canada has not signed the treaty. To honour the Treaty going into effect today, we urge you to consider the following actions: 

1)Explore the website of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) here and consider joining the campaign (see the Take Action section).  

2) Watch an informative webinar hosted by the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute this past November on the topic, and register for their webinar happening today with Noam Chomsky.

3)  Watch the compelling movie “The Man Who Saved the World”, available on YouTube here.

We at CJS are looking to help build a coalition of groups and individuals to ask the City of Saskatoon to sign on to the campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. There are already more than 10 Canadian cities that have done so. The City of Saskatoon should be on that list. Please get in touch if you are working towards a future free from nuclear weapons.

*An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that with ratification by 50 states the Treaty would become legally binding for all 122 signatories, rather than just those states that have ratified it. We have corrected the text and apologize for the error.

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