You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one
— John Lennon, “Imagine”
Imagine a global treaty that could lead to the destruction of all nuclear weapons and forever prohibit their use. Sound impossible? As of July 7, we have this treaty! Negotiators representing 130 countries of the 192-member United Nations finalized the 10-page treaty after months of painstaking talks. According to the New York Times, it is called the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Participants did not include any of the world’s nine nuclear-armed countries, which boycotted the negotiations: U.S., U.K., France, Russia, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel. This treaty is a strong categorical prohibition of nuclear weapons and is really rooted in humanitarian law, according to Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, a Geneva-based coalition of groups that advocated the treaty.
The Times has reported that disarmament groups did not expect that any nuclear-armed country would sign the treaty, at least, not at first. They hope and anticipate that the treaty’s widespread acceptance will eventually increase public pressure and create a stigma against harboring and threatening to use such unspeakably destructive weapons, forcing the nuke countries to reconsider their positions. I can easily imagine that these weapons will become embarrassing lethal burdens to the nuclear-armed countries and that they’ll free themselves of these burdens cooperatively through carefully negotiated procedures. Ultimately, it will be seen as barbaric to hold on to them and to spend money desperately needed elsewhere.
Rick Wayman of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has said, “This is yet another example of the U.S. ceding its leadership role in the world. While the majority of the world has negotiated in good faith to ban nuclear weapons, the U.S. and other nuclear-armed nations stubbornly continue to cling to the concept of nuclear deterrence.”
Our job as citizen-activists, while the U.S. is in the process of upgrading its nuclear arsenal and production infrastructure at a cost of over $1 trillion over the next 30 years, is to remind our elected representatives that there is a nuclear ban treaty and that they could get on board as leaders now, and spread the word that nuclear weapons are “so 20th century.”
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center’s “Peace Train” runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.