by Jerald Ross and Peter Metz
On January 22, 2021 the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) enters into force making nuclear weapons and everything to do with them illegal for the first 50+ nations that have now ratified it, and sets the stage for eventual adherence to the treaty by all nations. In the words of its many proponents, it is perhaps “the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons.” Join nuclear activists across the country and throughout the world on January 22 for a Day of Action to celebrate the TPNW and begin the process of making that goal a reality.
The TPNW was adopted in 2017 by 122 nations following a world wide effort led by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN, https://www.icanw.org/). Having passed the hurdle of individual ratification by the first 50 nations, it now comes into force for each nation 90 days after they too ratify it. The treaty has several provisions essentially making any and all activities involving nuclear weapons illegal in those ratifying nations.
While none of the nine nations with nuclear weapons (including the United States) have yet ratified it, they are immediately affected in several ways:
- Nuclear weapons companies cannot conduct nuclear weapons activities in countries that have ratified the treaty
- Financial divestment in the nuclear weapons industry, research, and related areas is likely to occur with their prohibition in multiple countries
- The ratifying nations accept the requirement for elimination and inspection protocols, agree to cooperate with and assist each other, and are obliged to encourage other nations to join the treaty
- The concept of victim assistance and environment remediation is articulated in the treaty
- The large and growing number of nations who have endorsed the elimination of nuclear weapons will lead to the global stigmatization of these weapons, as has occurred with other weapons of mass destruction (like chemical weapons)
The goal is for all nations eventually to adopt this treaty and create a secure world without nuclear weapons.
Then join as individuals and activist groups on Jan 22nd to heighten awareness of the TPNW and to build support for it here in the United States. With growing public awareness will come pressure on our own government to recognize, sign, ratify and comply with the Treaty.
Here are some actions that you can take, some on Jan 22nd, some in the days that follow:
- Circulate this TPNW Fact Sheet to your friends and social and faith groups.
- Write a Letter to the Editor noting the TPNW entry in force. Say why it is important. Mention your congressional representatives by name so their staff will and show it to their boss.
- If you can get an Op Ed in your local paper, do it.
- Hold banners or signs near prominent locations, such as City Halls, local landmarks, nuclear facilities, universities or financial institutions involved in the nuclear enterprise. Hereis an example of a banner design that can be replicated or modified.
- Mobilize your city or town to endorse the TPNW with an official resolution; have your community join the ICAN Cities Appeal: https://cities.icanw.org/
- Contact your congresspersons—Senators and Reps. Call their attention to the treaty, explain why it matters to you, and tell them you expect them to support legislation for the United States to join the TPNW. (Several legislators have already stated
- Share the news on social media—if you use Instagram or Facebook or Twitter—you can post the ICAN pages and other news about the Entry Into Force. firstname.lastname@example.org can suggest sample text to help spread the word with your networks. Additional ideas for action can be found on a Nuclear Ban Treaty Entry Into Force Facebook group here.
- Focus on the $$$: push investment funds and corporations to divest from nuclear weapons funding. You can find a list of the companies and banks that invest in nuclear weapons at Don’t Bank on the Bomb. If your bank is listed, change your bank and tell them why.
- Donate to one or more of the many groups dedicated to eliminating nuclear weapons.
Be sure to report your plans, and afterwards, your actions, to email@example.com; Your effort, large or small, is amplified when it is shared. For Massachusetts groups, report to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will share your plans!