ICAN and the Nuclear Weapons Convention

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In 1996 the International Court of Justice ruled that to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons is illegal in almost all conceivable circumstances, yet no legislation currently outlaws these weapons. Legally binding agreements to ban other weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical and biological weapons, have already been made. It is vital therefore, that a Nuclear Weapons Convention to ban nuclear weapons is negotiated.

In 1997 an international team of legal, scientific, disarmament and negotiation experts drafted a treaty for the abolition of all nuclear weapons. It provides a concrete framework to accomplish a nuclear-weapons free world and details a stage by stage process for nuclear weapons states to achieve abolition:

  1. take all nuclear weapons off alert.
  2. remove weapons from deployment.
  3. remove nuclear warheads from their delivery vehicles.
  4. disable the warheads, removing and disfiguring the ‘pits’.
  5. place the fissile material under international control.

In the initial phases the US and Russia would make the deepest cuts to their arsenals (a phase which has already, hesitatingly, begun).

In 2007 an International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) to build a groundswell of support for abolition and Malaysia and Costa Rica formally submitted a new model treaty to the UN. This was supported by organisations in over 60 countries and included leading figures such as Desmond Tutu, Hans Blix and the Dalai Lama.

At the last review conference of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty in May 2010 140 nations called for a convention and the nuclear weapons countries are being challenged to take this forward.

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