NEW YORK – The United Nations appears set to adopt a landmark nuclear weapons ban treaty this week after the third and final draft of the accord circulated Monday following intensive negotiations over the weekend.
“Each one of us has assumed the historic responsibility to give humankind an instrument that reflects the moral imperative of prohibiting nuclear weapons and leading to a future free of nuclear weapons, as was the case more than seven decades ago,” Elayne Whyte Gomez, Costa Rican ambassador and conference president, said prior to the draft’s circulation.
The latest draft, expected to be adopted by the end of the session Friday, includes new language that explicitly prohibits states from using or threatening to use nuclear weapons.
Although Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, which hold the largest arsenals, have not joined the talks, negotiators are hopeful they might one day endorse the legal instrument.
Also notably absent are nuclear umbrella states like Japan, the only country to have been attacked with atomic weapons. With the exception of the Netherlands, other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have also skipped the sessions. Five non-nuclear NATO allies — Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey — host about 180 U.S. nuclear bombs at six air bases, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
Two references to Japanese atomic bomb survivors, known as hibakusha, remain in the preamble of the text. Along with the atomic blast survivors from places like the Marshall Islands, they are seen as having brought the notion of humanitarian consequences to the forefront.
Many conference participants have recognized the vital importance of hibakusha for having contributed to peace and disarmament education over the years at various international conferences.
The text also calls for the states to open for treaty signature on Sept. 19. The date coincides with the annual General Assembly debate which draws the top leaders from around the globe.