The first draft of the United Nations treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons was released in Geneva, Switzerland, on 22 May. Elayne Whyte Gómez, the Costa Rican ambassador who is presiding over negotiations of the historic accord, presented the text to diplomats and members of civil society, before answering questions from the media.
The draft was developed on the basis of discussions and input received during the first round of negotiations, held at the UN headquarters in New York from 27 to 31 March 2017, with the participation of 132 nations. The negotiations will resume on 15 June and continue until 7 July, with the draft as the basis.
ICAN welcomes the release of the draft as an important milestone in the years-long effort to ban these indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction in light of their inhumane and catastrophic impacts. Once adopted, the treaty will constitute an major step towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
The draft provides a solid basis for a strong, categorical prohibition of nuclear weapons. ICAN expects further constructive debate on certain provisions as the process moves forward, and will be campaigning to ensure the strongest possible treaty. We are confident that the treaty can be agreed by 7 July.
“We are particularly happy that the text is rooted in humanitarian principles and builds on existing prohibitions of unacceptable weapons, such as the conventions banning biological and chemical weapons, anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions,” said Beatrice Fihn, the executive director of ICAN.
Nuclear-armed and nuclear alliance states should engage constructively in these discussions, she said. “Whilst they will be able to join the treaty once it has been agreed, failure to participate in the negotiations undermines their claims to be committed to a world without nuclear weapons.”
“Nuclear weapons are morally unacceptable. They are intended to kill civilians indiscriminately,” Ms Fihn said. “Their continued existence undermines the moral credibility of every country that relies on them. A treaty to ban them, as a first step towards their elimination, will have real and lasting impact.”