Prohibition of nuclear weapons

Building on the Humanitarian Initiative for nuclear disarmament, as well as on the results of the 2016 Open Ended Working Group for taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations in Geneva, the General Assembly of the United Nations decided, upon the initiative of Austria and several other states, to convene a conference for the negotiation of a prohibition of nuclear weapons under international law.

These negotiations were successfully concluded on 7 July in New York with the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. 122 States voted for the new treaty. The treaty will be open for signature in New York as from 20 September 2017 and will enter into force after 50 instruments of ratification have been deposited.

The treaty, encompassing a preamble and 20 articles, is the first concrete result of multilateral disarmament negotiations since the adoption of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996. It is a new instrument strengthening and complementing the existing international regime for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, especially as an important contribution for the implementation of the disarmament obligation of article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). With regard to content, the humanitarian initiative, which has put the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons on the frontline of the nuclear disarmament debate in recent years, is an integral part of the text of the treaty.  The central focus is the prohibition of the acquisition, ownership, use, as well as other actions related to nuclear weapons. The treaty opens a path for the irreversible and verifiable elimination of the arsenals of nuclear weapon states. Furthermore, obligations for victim assistance and environmental remediation for contamination caused by the use or testing of nuclear weapons.