Decades in the making: nuclear weapons banned by comprehensive UN treaty

Today is a day of celebration, at JPIT and for peace campaigners all around the world. The UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) has reached fifty ratifications and will enter into legal force after a period of ninety days.

weapons are by their very nature indiscriminate, and have catastrophic
environmental, humanitarian and financial implications. This treaty places them
where they belong: alongside other indiscriminate weaponry, such as biological
and chemical weapons. It’s been a long time in the making. The TPNW was first
adopted by the UN in 2017, but even before that campaigners had been advocating
for a ban for decades.

The campaign for the TPNW

International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons and its partners
were awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for this work at the end of 2017. As part of
the Nobel Lecture, Hiroshima survivor and peace campaigner Setsuko Thurlow

“Tonight, as we march through the streets of
Oslo with torches aflame, let us follow each other out of the dark night of nuclear
terror. No matter what obstacles we face, we will keep moving and keep pushing
and keep sharing this light with others. This is our passion and commitment for
our one precious world to survive.”

Christians, it’s an important message. As we work to demonstrate the peace of
Christ to the world, staying power is really important. This is a treaty that’s
been decades in the making, and it’s through the tireless work of peace campaigners
that it’s come into force, Setsuko Thurlow’s words bring to mind Matthew 5:16.

“In the same way, let your light shine before
others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

The four JPIT church partners have been advocating for this kind of comprehensive ban for several years. At JPIT, we believe that we’re called to be peacemakers and that anything so indiscriminate and immoral as nuclear weapons must be totally incompatible with the teachings of the Bible. So we’re really excited that all the work that’s gone into securing this comprehensive Treaty has finally paid off.

What does the Treaty
actually mean?

For the
countries who have signed the TPNW, a whole range of nuclear-related activities
will now be totally banned. This includes developing, testing, producing,
manufacturing, transferring, possessing, stockpiling, using or threatening to
use, or allowing nuclear weapons to be stationed on their territory.

At the
moment, none of the nuclear states have signed the TPNW, so the work isn’t done
yet. If they were to sign, they commit to destroying their existing weapons
within a legally binding, time-bound plan. Now the TPNW is entering into legal
force, there is clearly an international consensus that these weapons are
unconscionable and have no place in society.

What can I do about it?

for nuclear disarmament can be disheartening work. There often don’t seem to be
any tangible lifestyle changes that make a difference, and the big decisions
all have to be made at an international or national level. But, in fact, while
international treaties are primarily agreements between sovereign states, they
can also reflect a sense of public morality and have a bearing on local
governments, civil society and the private sector.  There are some really important actions which
individuals can take to boost the work of international actions like the TPNW.

Write to your bank or pension provider asking
them to reconsider their policy on nuclear weapons investment in light of the
The Joint
Public Issues Team has helped to coordinate a partnership to investigate the
state of play of nuclear weapons financing in the UK. This has produced a major
new report #InvestingInChange. We encourage you to write to your
bank or pension provider in light of the report’s findings. Check out how your financial institution fared
and get in touch with them if you think their policy isn’t good enough here.

Is your city, town or area a Nuclear Free Local
If not,
why not? Get your area involved by lobbying your council to become
a Nuclear Free Zone.

Could your area join the Mayors for Peace
This is a
scheme that establishes solidarity between communities around the world. Have a look and get in touch with your local authority if
you think it might work in your area.

Join the celebration! Let us know how you’re celebrating
the TPNW’s entry into legal force by Tweeting us @publicissues and using #TPNW.

This is a
time for celebration and a time to look to the future to see how we can continue
to strive for a world which actively works for peace. We’re excited to see
where this campaign goes next, and looking forward to celebrating with all the
supporters of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.


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