Majority of States Agree to Ban Nuclear Weapons at United Nations


UK refuses to participate in treaty negotiations

New York, 7 July 2017: Negotiations of a new international treaty that bans nuclear weapons concluded at the United Nations today as the treaty was formally adopted by states. The United Kingdom, alongside other nuclear-armed states, has boycotted the negotiations despite government claims to support multilateral disarmament and a world without nuclear weapons.

“States that are serious about eliminating nuclear weapons have joined the United Nations treaty negotiations to ban nuclear weapons and they represent the majority of states in the world,” said Richard Moyes of Article 36.

“The UK along with other states that possess nuclear weapons have chosen to boycott these talks, but the process has shown that any group of committed and concerned states can and should take collective responsibility to reject these horrific weapons,” said Moyes.

“This UN treaty outlaws nuclear weapons and requires their elimination,”said Dr Rebecca Johnson of the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy.  “That’s the logical order followed by all disarmament treaties, and whether the government likes it or not, it will increase the legal, economic and public pressures to halt Britain’s billion-pound spending spree on Trident renewal.”

The ‘Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons’ was adopted Friday morning and will open for signature by states at the United Nations in New York on September 20, 2017.  Over 130 states have participated in negotiations since March 2017.

Since biological and chemical weapons have been banned for over 20 years, this UN treaty represents an important step to outlaw the most dangerous WMD of all, recognising that nuclear detonations, whether by accident or intention, would cause even greater catastrophic humanitarian consequences

The Acronym Institute and Article 36 are international steering group members of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) which has led civil society’s advocacy for the nuclear prohibition treaty for the past decade, and part of ICAN UK. They both participated in the UN negotiations, along with civil society leaders and organisations from the UK and around the world.


Laura Boillot +44(0)7515-575-175 [email protected]

PHOTOS – President of the negotiating conference Elayne Whyte confers with advisor during break in negotiations – Full conference room, diplomats, and civil society – The international steering group of ICAN has a meeting in the East Lounge in between conference sessions – Civil society section of conference room – ICAN group photo with Ban the Bomb banner – Activists bring the leaders of the nuclear-armed states in one place outside the UN building. – Ban the Bomb banner in Central Park – P5 taking a stroll in Manhattan



What’s in the treaty?

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons establishes prohibitions in Article I that prevent states party from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, acquiring, possessing, stockpiling, transferring, deploying, stationing, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, under any circumstances. It also makes it illegal to assist, encourage or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a state party under this treaty, extending the prohibitions to non-state actors as well.

Other provisions lay out a clear framework for how states that currently possess nuclear weapons or engage in nuclear alliances, policies and practices can join and implement the treaty.

It welcomes accession by states that currently possess, deploy or station nuclear weapons, setting out the basic requirements for them to join, implement and demonstrate the elimination of weapons and programmes in compliance with the treaty. In recognition that each case involving nuclear-armed states will be different, the treaty provides for detailed plans and technical, verification and institutional requirements to be worked out between states parties and each acceding government, as well as involving international organisations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In keeping with the humanitarian imperative to prohibit nuclear weapons due to their catastrophic humanitarian consequences that underpins this treaty, and following previous treaties banning landmines and cluster munitions, this treaty also for the first time establishes obligations for victim assistance and environmental remediation.

It is also the first treaty to recognise gender-related aspects of nuclear programmes and the disproportionate harm nuclear weapons and testing have caused to indigenous peoples, women and girls. Furthermore, women of all ages and ethnic backgrounds have provided active leadership and participation in these negotiations, by contrast with to traditional arms control and nonproliferation processes.