This new publication from Article 36 and Reaching Critical Will summarises, in a table, the gaps in existing treaty law related to nuclear weapons. It examines development, production, testing, transfer, acquisition, transit, stockpiling, deployment, threat of use or use of nuclear weapons, assistance with prohibited acts, and rights and restoration for victims/survivors and affected environments.

The Vienna conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, December 2014 (ICAN

The Vienna conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, December 2014 (ICAN

At the December 2014 Conference on the Humanitarian Impact on Nuclear Weapons in Vienna, Austria made a pledge calling on “all states parties to the NPT to renew their commitment to Article VI [of the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)], and to this end, to identify and pursue effective measures to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.”

The key “legal gap” that needs to be filled is the explicit prohibition of nuclear weapons and establishment of a framework for their elimination. The other weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical weapons, are prohibited and subject to elimination processes through international legal instruments. It is past time that nuclear weapons are put on the same legal footing.

A treaty banning nuclear weapons, by categorically prohibiting nuclear weapons and establishing a framework and impetus for their elimination, would help to fill these gaps. Such a treaty would build on existing norms and reinforce existing legal instruments, but it would also close loopholes in the current legal regime that enable states to engage in nuclear weapon activities or otherwise to claim perceived benefit from their continued possession and deployment while purporting to promote their elimination.

States should commence negotiations in 2015 on a treaty banning nuclear weapons as an effective measure for nuclear disarmament. At a time when the nuclear-armed states continue to demonstrate their lack of commitment to pursuing tangible, good faith nuclear disarmament, as international tensions rise, and as the potential for accidents persists, banning nuclear weapons is an urgent necessity.

Download the briefing paper:

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Filling the legal gap: The prohibition of nuclear weapons

May 2015



Read more:

The effects of nuclear weapons under international law

Nuclear weapon free zones and banning nuclear weapons

A Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons: Developing a legal framework for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons


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