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..the voting screen at the un.
..there hasn't been a whole lot of news about the passage of this treaty. and even this democracy now is quite short. but how it came about is brilliant! bravo to those who made it happen. looking forward to hearing other accounts on how it came to be and what it means for the world now.
122 Countries Overcome U.S. Opposition and Pass Landmark U.N. Global Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons
RAY ACHESON: So this was a long effort to get countries to come together to develop new international law to prohibit nuclear weapons. And we’re working in a context, of course, where the nuclear-armed states are investing billions of dollars into modernizing their arsenals. We’re in the midst of a new arms race. And they boycotted these negotiations. They boycotted all of the processes leading up to these negotiations. The United States tried to encourage its allies around the world, particularly in NATO, to boycott the talks. But despite all of that, 122 countries, as you saw, voted yes for this treaty and came together at the U.N. over the course of four weeks to negotiate it.
AMY GOODMAN: So what does it mean that they have voted? A hundred twenty-two countries is a very big deal, but it’s none of the nuclear powers, so what does that mean?
RAY ACHESON: Well, the treaty is actually designed not to include them necessarily. It would have been great if they had have come along, and it would have looked like a very different treaty. But given that they weren’t engaged in the negotiations and that they aren’t interested currently in disarmament, we needed to create something that could attack the system of nuclear weapons sort of indirectly, getting around different economic, political, legal statures of nuclear weapons that keep the practices and policies of nuclear deterrence going currently.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, while this happened under the Trump administration, didn’t the Obama administration even vote against convening the talks that led to this treaty?
RAY ACHESON: That’s absolutely correct. And the Obama administration also sent a memo to its NATO allies telling them to vote against the start of the talks and to boycott these talks.
AMY GOODMAN: And so, what happens now? The treaty is signed. What does this mean for these 122 countries? And for the world?
RAY ACHESON: So, the next process is going to be signing on to the treaty. It’ll open for signature at the U.N. in New York on the 20th of September. And after that, they’ll have to go through a national ratification process in order for it to enter into force. But that should all happen within the next year or two, and then it will be international law that is binding on all of the countries that have adhered to it, which means, in some cases, they’re going to have to change their practices and policies that may enable or facilitate the use or the possession of nuclear weapons.
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)
Atomic bomb survivor Setsuko Thurlow's closing statement to the #nuclearban conference.
The new reality
Yesterday, we banned nuclear weapons.
It’s still hard to believe this is the case. It hasn’t fully sunk in yet, the enormity of what just happened. Even as survivors, activists, politicians, and diplomats celebrated in New York and around the world, many expressed amazement that we actually pulled it off.
It was a long campaign. Activism against nuclear weapons has been fierce and determined for over seventy years. But it wasn’t until recent years, when a few courageous diplomats in partnership with a group of civil society actors working as part of or in collaboration with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons decided to take a leap into the unknown, that we managed to finally develop international law condemning and prohibiting these last weapons of mass destruction.
Working together, we foregrounded our actions in resistance and hope. Resistance to the pressure from nuclear-armed and nuclear-alliance states. Resistance to attitudes of cynicism and of defeatism. Resistance to staying the course, being placated, being told to be patient, that the “important” countries will handle this matter. Hope that change is possible. Hope that by working together we can achieve something that can disrupt some of the most powerful, heavily militarised structures and doctrines in the entire world. Hope that a shared sense of humanity could prevail against all odds. Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney quoted Seamus Heaney in his remarks on Friday, that “hope is not optimism, which expects things to turn out well, but something rooted in the conviction that there is a good worth working for.”
There were incredible obstacles in our way. We were challenging power. In response, many forces of that power were unleashed upon us—politically, and sometimes personally. In her closing statement, Ambassador Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko of South Africa noted the “an incredible amount of pressure” on her continent not to participate. We saw this pressure placed on many countries in October before the General Assembly voted to begin these negotiations. We saw it even when states were organising conferences to examine the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons.
The key was not to allow these obstacles to be insurmountable. This is a choice. One can either give up or keep fighting. No obstacle is actually too big; it’s just a matter of figuring out how to go under, around, over, or through it. On Friday, 7 July, 122 governments voted yes for humanity. They took courage in their collective endeavor, and in the support of civil society filling the gallery behind them beyond capacity. They also took courage in their “moral duty,” as Ambassador Mxakato-Diseko put it, noting that “to have voted no would have been a slap in the face to the victims of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.”.....
This is a treaty made by people. By diplomats who got inspired by an idea and went home to change their government’s positions. By activists writing, thinking, and convening, bringing together governments and civil society groups to figure out how to make things happen. By survivors who give their testimony despite the personal trauma of reliving their experiences. By direct action crews who get arrested for breaking into nuclear weapon facilities or blockading nuclear transports or military bases. By campaigners who mobilise nationally to raise awareness and pressure their governments. By politicians who truly represent the will of their people and speak the truth in parliaments. By academics who write the theory or record the process.
This treaty is an amazing feat of collective action by people who came together to do something that had not been tried before. Like anything created by people, it has its imperfections. But it’s a good start on the road to abolition, and it gives a glimpse of what is possible in this world. That, all on its own, has meaning.
UN Adopts Historic Nuclear Weapons Ban over US-Led Opposition
The United Nations General Assembly has adopted the first ever global treaty to ban the possession of nuclear weapons -- but all nine nuclear powers stand in the way. We speak to Rick Wayman of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and Ira Helfand of Physicians for Social Responsibility, who were both involved in the global campaign to push the treaty through
Democracy Breaks Out at the UN as 122 Nations Vote to Ban the Bomb
The new treaty outlaws any prohibited activities related to nuclear weapons, including use, threat to use, development, testing, production, manufacturing, acquiring, possession, stockpiling, transferring, receiving, stationing, installation, and deployment of nuclear weapons. It also bans states from lending assistance, which includes such prohibited acts as financing for their development and manufacture, engaging in military preparations and planning, and permitting the transit of nuclear weapons through territorial water or airspace.
We are witnessing a striking shift in the global paradigm of how the world views nuclear weapons, bringing us to this glorious moment. The change has transformed public conversation about nuclear weapons, from the same old, same old talk about national “security” and its reliance on “nuclear deterrence” to the widely publicized evidence of the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from their use. A series of compelling presentations of the devastating effects of nuclear catastrophe, organized by enlightened governments and civil society’s International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, was inspired by a stunning statement from the International Committee of the Red Cross addressing the humanitarian consequences of nuclear war.
At meetings hosted by Norway, Mexico, and Austria, overwhelming evidence demonstrated the disastrous devastation threatening humanity from nuclear weapons—their mining, milling, production, testing, and use—whether deliberately or by accident or negligence. This new knowledge, exposing the terrifying havoc that would be inflicted on our planet, gave impetus for this moment when governments and civil society fulfilled a negotiating mandate for a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.
Any former supporters of OPERATION DISMANTLE out there? I was caught up, around 1980, in the rather utopic idea of a world referendum on abolishing nuclear arms. Voting them illegal by the General Assembly was the way to go. It will be impossible for Canada to sign on but I hope the government will get a lot of criticism and that Canada/NATO's First Use stand will be better known.