The use of nuclear weapons would cause massive destruction, death, disease and long-term harm to human society and the environment.  The fact that these weapons are not already subject to explicit prohibitions makes a mockery of international law.

Article 36 promotes the development of a legal treaty banning the use, production, stockpiling, transfer and financing of nuclear weapons.  Such an instrument should be negotiated and adopted even without the support or participation of the nuclear-armed states.

Such a treaty would be an extension of existing nuclear-free commitments.  It would be a concrete step towards implementation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty’s obligations for nuclear disarmament. It would allow for a more accurate articulation of world opinion regarding the continued holding of these weapons.  Most importantly it would change the international legal and normative frameworks against which decisions regarding nuclear weapons must be made.

The announcement that Norway will host a meeting on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons in 2013 is an indication that states are still looking for ways of unlocking international disarmament.  Such a meeting should offer an opportunity for civil society, under the umbrella of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), to come together and demand such a treaty in response to the humanitarian threat.

It is time to change the rules on nuclear weapons.  Whether nuclear armed states like it or not, a ban treaty will set a clear international standard, it will be a barrier to future use and will provide a framework for nuclear abolition.


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