Nations sign UN Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons

September 20, 2017

In an historic moment, the world’s first legally-binding treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons opened for signature today at the United Nations Headquarters. The Treaty - adopted on July 7th of this year by by two-thirds of the 193 UN member states after months of talks - prohibits development, testing, production, acquisition, and possession of nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices. 

“The Treaty is an important step towards the universally-held goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. It is my hope that it will reinvigorate global efforts to achieve it,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said at the signing ceremony. Mr. Guterres highlighted the difficult road ahead, pointing out that there remain some 15,000 nuclear weapons in existence, many times over what would be required to destroy the whole world. “We cannot allow these doomsday weapons to endanger our world and our children’s future.”

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Beatrice Fihn, the executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), spoke on the struggle to pass the nuclear ban treaty at the signing ceremony, saying “This has not been an easy process; the treaty has been called “divisive” by those that still ascribe value to nuclear weapons and many of them will try to work against this. But over time, this treaty will stand strong – because it is based on strong foundations. It is morally right, and it is coherent with the framework of international law.”

The Treaty will enter into force 90 days after it has been ratified by at least 50 countries. Brazil was the first country to sign the Treaty, followed by 50 other countries representing all regions of the world. The Holy See issued its first-ever vote at the United Nations in July in favor of the nuclear disarmament treaty, and continued their support for the Treaty today by both signing and ratifying the treaty during the opening ceremony. Guyana and Thailand have also ratified the treaty.

See what countries have signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

None of the 9 countries known or believed to possess nuclear weapons participated in the Treaty talks, with the United States, the United Kingdom and France issuing a joint press statement saying that they “have not taken part in the negotiation of the treaty...and do not intend to sign, ratify or ever become party to it.”

"Those who still hold nuclear arsenals, we call upon them to join this date with history," Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis said as he prepared to sign.

Read the Full Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons