New treaty banning nuclear weapons approved at UN by majority including Philippines

Image by Wallpapercave, UN

The Philippines was among 122 countries, or 63.2% of the (193) members of the United Nations that voted to adopt a legally binding treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons. Elayne Whyte Gomez, president of the U.N. conference who has been negotiating the treaty, announced the results of the “historic” vote.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the 10-page treaty will be open for signatures on September 19, 2017 and enter into force 90 days after 50 countries have ratified it.

Under the pact, states/countries are prohibited from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, acquiring, possessing or stockpiling nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, as well as from using or threatening to use these.

Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations Teodoro Locsin Jr., in a statement he delivered at the adoption of the treaty, welcomed the ‘pact’ as a step forward “in putting all nuclear weapons firmly on the path of complete, total and irreversible extinction.”

Locsin said: “This treaty is the capstone of the global disarmament architecture. It strengthens the existing network of treaties and agreements already in place by reaffirming their collectively compelling logic of survival. We voted for its adoption because it is the right thing to do.”

None of the nine countries believed to possess nuclear weapons — the United States, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel — is supporting the treaty.

The treaty was boycotted by the United States, Britain, France and others who instead pledged commitment to a decades-old Non-Proliferation Treaty.

British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, and French Ambassador Francois Delattre said in a joint statement that their countries do “not intend to sign, ratify or ever become party” to the treaty.

“Therefore, there will be no change in the legal obligations on our countries with respect to nuclear weapons,” they said.

They said, citing North Korea: “A purported ban on nuclear weapons that does not address the security concerns that continue to make nuclear deterrence necessary cannot result in the elimination of a single nuclear weapon and will not enhance any country’s security, nor international peace and security.”

Pyongyang’s latest missile tests and claims that its newly developed intercontinental ballistic missile can carry a nuclear warhead have alarmed the United States and other countries.

At the start of the talks in March, the US envoy Haley said dozens of countries were skipping the negotiations because they were committed to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which entered into force in 1970 and is aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology.

Haley said “there is nothing I want more for my family than a world with no nuclear weapons, but we have to be realistic.”

On the other hand, Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said 15,000 nuclear weapons around the world have not managed to deter Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions and a new approach is needed starting with prohibition as the first step to eliminate nuclear arms.

Sometimes, you have to fight fire with fire, and sometimes too, the best way is to eliminate fire itself. What do you think?