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UNITED NATIONS: Treaty to ban nuclear weapons

After years of work, 122 governments have adopted a treaty that makes nuclear weapons completely illegal. The July 7th decision at the United Nations bans the manufacture, possession and use of nuclear weapons and provides pathways for their eventual elimination.

“I welcome this treaty with great thanksgiving. It is designed to protect all countries and the planet that is our home. It could ultimately save millions of lives,” said the World Council of Churches (WCC) General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit. 

The nuclear ban treaty requires that states provide assistance to victims of nuclear weapons’ use and testing, and requires environmental remediation for areas contaminated by radiation. The treaty calls special attention, for example, to the “disproportionate impact” of ionizing radiation on women and girls, based on long-neglected evidence gathered in the Marshall Islands and other territories used for nuclear tests.

“This treaty is anticipated to have an impact on all states, whether they join immediately or not, by stigmatizing nuclear weapons and making the continued maintenance, development, and possession of nuclear weapons unacceptable,” the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons declared. 

“Churches now have a fine opportunity to help with the next step,” the WCC General Secretary said. “We can all urge our governments to sign and ratify the treaty and then to see that it is implemented.”

The nine countries with nuclear weapons and 30 countries that seek shelter in U.S. nuclear deterrence boycotted the month-long treaty negotiations and largely opposed years of preparatory work.

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