United Nations meeting negotiates a nuclear weapons ban
To imagine innocence is to picture children playing. As such, most people and governments are horrified by the idea of children and other helpless civilians suffering and dying, even during war. Finding a way to prevent the unnecessary slaughter of innocents has brought over 115 countries to the United Nations in New York this week to begin negotiations of a historic treaty that would, once and for all, ban nuclear weapons.
The countries are united by concerns that tens or even hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children – mothers, sons, fathers, daughters, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and neighbors – could be killed, quite literally, in a flash.
In a statement to the opening of negotiations, Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, or ICRC, said, “The prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons is a humanitarian imperative.”
Responding to a Humanitarian Imperative
A ban on nuclear weapons is certainly historic, but it’s not without precedence. Prohibiting and eliminating other weapons because of their horrific humanitarian consequences has happened before. In fact, most of the world’s deadliest weapons are currently banned.
At a press conference, Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, ICAN, said, “The treaty will finally ban weapons designed to indiscriminately kill civilians, completing the prohibitions on weapons of mass destruction.”
For example, when adults around the world learned of the tens of thousands of children killed by landmines while simply pursuing childhood activities, such as playing in open fields, a global cry arose to bring an end to the indiscriminate weapons. In 1997, 133 countries signed the Mine Ban Treaty, and as of today 162 have signed. According to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, “only 35 states remain outside the treaty, but most of them do not actually use or produce antipersonnel mines.”
A similar rallying cry heralded the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Cluster munitions often landed without exploding and remained unstable. Their toy-like appearance attracted thousands of children, who were killed and maimed by the weapons. The treaty was adopted in 2008 and is described by clusterconvention.org as an “international treaty of more than 100 States that addresses the humanitarian consequences and unacceptable harm caused to civilians by cluster munitions.”
Today, most countries abide by these treaties, and even countries like the United States, which has not signed either treaty, is either mostly in compliance or is showing signs of improvement………
Relegating Nukes to History A common concern about these negotiations is the notable absence of the nuclear states. However, history, as seen with the landmine and cluster munitions treaties, gives those supporting the negotiations reason to hope.
In his statement for the ICRC, Maurer added, “Of course, adopting a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons will not make them immediately disappear. But it will reinforce the stigma against their use, support commitments to nuclear risk reduction, and be a disincentive for proliferation. … As with chemical and biological weapons, a clear and unambiguous prohibition is the cornerstone of their elimination.”
Susi Snyder, the nuclear disarmament program manager for PAX in the Netherlands, explained, “This is the start of a negotiation. The impact of the negotiation cannot be guessed or measured until the treaty is done. Even then, as with all treaties and growing norms, the impact will grow over time.”
Fihn added that a treaty would “make it clear that the world has moved beyond these morally unacceptable weapons of the past.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/survivors-speak-out-as-un-negotiates-nuke-ban_us_58dd5552e4b0fa4c0959872b?
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