ICRC, IFRC celebrate as nuclear weapons treaty comes into force

The International Committee on Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (IFRC), on Friday, welcomed the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), a joint statement they issued from Geneva and New York has said.

The statement quoted the President of ICRC, Peter Maurer, as saying “Today is a victory for humanity”.

“This Treaty – the result of more than 75 years of work – sends a clear signal that nuclear weapons are unacceptable from a moral, humanitarian and now, a legal point of view.

“It sets in motion even higher legal barriers and even greater stigmatisation of nuclear warheads than already exists. It allows us to imagine a world free from these inhumane weapons as an achievable goal,’’ it said.

Similarly, the statement also quoted IFRC President, Francesco Rocca, as saying, “The entry into force of this instrument of international humanitarian law comes as a welcome development.

“It comes as a powerful reminder that despite current global tensions, we can overcome even our biggest and most entrenched challenges, in the true spirit of multilateralism. This capacity to effectively unite and coordinate our action should be called upon as we grapple with other global, deadly challenges,’’ it said.

According to the statement, TPNW is the first instrument of international humanitarian law to include provisions to help address the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of using and testing nuclear weapons.

“TPNW explicitly and unequivocally prohibits the use, threat of use, development, production, testing and stockpiling of nuclear weapons.

“It also obliges all States Parties to not assist, encourage or induce anyone in any way to engage in any activity prohibited by the Treaty,’’ it said.

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The statement cited Nigeria as one of the first 50 states worldwide, to ratify the Treaty on Aug. 6, 2020.

“It signed the treaty on 20 Sept. 2017, joining the global ban on Nuclear Weapons and then submitted its instrument of ratification in Aug. 2020.

“Nigeria has been in the forefront of campaigning, promoting, sensitising, on the importance and necessity of banning Nuclear Weapons, by encouraging other nations, especially African nations, to follow its lead,’’ it said.

The statement further stated that Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders celebrated the entry into force of the TPNW and saluted all 51 states, whose backing of the Treaty made clear their refusal to accept nuclear weapons as an inevitable part of the international security architecture.

“They invite other world leaders, including those of nuclear-armed states, to follow suit and join the path toward a world free of nuclear weapons, in line with long-standing international obligations, notably those under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,’’ it said.

According to the statement, the Treaty obliges states to provide assistance, including medical care, rehabilitation and psychological support, to victims under their jurisdiction without discrimination, and ensure their socio-economic inclusion.

In addition, it stated that it also required states to clear areas contaminated by nuclear use or testing.

The statement further quoted Maurer, as saying “the Treaty is a ground-breaking step to address the legacy of destruction caused by these weapons.

“The compelling evidence of the suffering and devastation caused by nuclear weapons, and the threat their use may pose to humanity’s survival, makes attempts to justify their use or mere existence increasingly indefensible.

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“It is extremely doubtful that these weapons could ever be used in line with international humanitarian law.”

It added: “ Treaty enters into force as the world witnesses what happens when a public health system is overwhelmed by patients. The needs created by a nuclear detonation would render any meaningful health response impossible.

“No health system, no government, and no aid organisation are capable of adequately responding to the health and other assistance needs that a nuclear blast will bring.

“The adoption by nuclear-armed states of more aggressive nuclear weapons policies, and the continued modernisation of nuclear weapons, all worryingly point toward an increasing risk of use of nuclear weapons.

“That’s why it is imperative that we act now to prevent a nuclear detonation from happening in the first place, by removing any use and testing of nuclear weapons from the realm of possibility,’’ it said.

The statement further quoted Rocca, as saying,” the Treaty presents each of us with a really simple question: Do we want nuclear weapons to be banned or not?

“We are ready, together with our Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies, to intensify our efforts to achieve the broadest possible adherence to the Treaty and insist on its vision of collective security.

“The entry into force of the Nuclear Ban Treaty is the beginning, not the end, of our efforts,’’ it said

The statement added that state parties, which would have their first meeting in the course of 2021, must now ensure that the Treaty’s provisions are faithfully implemented and its adherence promoted.

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