Achieving a nuclear weapons ban
To avert a humanitarian catastrophe of unprecedented proportions, nations must intensify efforts to outlaw and eliminate nuclear weapons.
An understanding of “the devastation that would be visited upon all mankind by a nuclear war” was the motivating force behind the adoption of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968. Article VI of the agreement obliges all nations to negotiate in good faith for total nuclear disarmament under strict and effective international control. More than four decades on, however, this provision remains largely unfulfilled. At an important review of the treaty in May 2010, governments warned that catastrophic humanitarian consequences could result from continued failure to act.
A universal prohibition
The most effective, expeditious and practical way to achieve and sustain the abolition of nuclear weapons would be to negotiate a comprehensive, irreversible, binding, verifiable treaty – a nuclear weapons convention – bringing together all the necessary aspects of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Negotiations should begin without delay and progress in good faith and without interruption until a successful conclusion is reached. Such an approach is supported by the vast majority of people and governments worldwide.
A nuclear weapons convention could take any number of forms. Most likely, the treaty would oblige nations to disarm according to a series of progressive phases, beginning with taking their nuclear weapons off high-alert status. Preferably, it would also ban the production of fissile materials and stipulate that existing stocks be eliminated or placed under secure international control. An international monitoring system and dedicated agency could be established to verify compliance with all provisions of the treaty.