> United Nations global ban treaty has entered into force
On Friday 22 January, history was made when the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) "entered into force". This means that the nuclear ban has become a binding instrument under international law - but only for those countries that have signed and ratified it. None of the nuclear-armed countries have signed the treaty, so what does this mean now?
At the time of writing, 86 countries have signed the treaty, and 52 have ratified it. 135 nations came together at the conference in 2017 to draft the treaty, and 122 voted to accept the treaty text and open it up for signatures. Once the number of ratifications reached 50, it automatically triggered the process of "entering into force" which means that - for those countries - nuclear weapons are illegal. They have, of course, always been immoral. But now we really can call nuclear weapons what they are: prohibited weapons of mass destruction, just like chemical weapons, biological weapons and land mines. Just as with those other UN treaties, the world didn't change overnight - every country's legislative process is different, and there is a battle for hearts and minds that usually has to be won by civil society to persuade their government to act. But when a UN treaty enters into force, the moral and legal arguments become much stronger, and (hopefully!) the change becomes inevitable.