Peter Maurer President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
Why is the entry into force of Tian important?
Peter Maurer The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (Tian) is the first instrument of international humanitarian law aimed at addressing the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the use and testing of nuclear weapons. As of January 22, it will be illegal to use or threaten to use, develop, test, produce, acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons. In addition, the parties will have to provide assistance to victims of the testing and use of nuclear weapons and to clean up contaminated areas.
Legally binding for the 51 states that have ratified or acceded to it, it will also be binding on states that become parties in the future. By expressly and categorically prohibiting the use of nuclear weapons, this text strongly affirms that any use of these weapons would not only be unacceptable from a moral and humanitarian point of view, but also illegal under international humanitarian law. It gives force of law to the deep conviction, shared by States and civil society, that any use of nuclear weapons is unacceptable, whatever the motive.
Why does the International Committee of the Red Cross care?
Peter Maurer Our humanitarian organization and the Japanese Red Cross Society witnessed firsthand the indescribable suffering caused by the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, as they attempted to bring relief to the dying and injured.
For seventy-five years we have advocated for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons, while we still observe the long-term effects of nuclear weapons and the Japanese Red Cross Society continues to treat thousands of people in its hospitals. people with various cancers attributable to radiation.
Nuclear weapons have catastrophic humanitarian consequences and pose a threat to humanity. No country has the means to control the effects of nuclear war and face the consequences of a disaster of such magnitude, the effects of which transcend borders. Nor could any international organization adequately respond to the needs of victims.
Finally, it is hardly conceivable that the use of nuclear weapons could one day be in conformity with international humanitarian law, of which the ICRC is the guarantor. This treaty is therefore a victory for humanity, hoped for by all those who have campaigned for decades.
Some say that the states possessing nuclear weapons are not signatories to this treaty, it will have no scope. Is this your opinion?
Peter Maurer The Tian enshrines the taboo relating to the use of these weapons. As such, it more urgently urges the states which have them to reduce and, ultimately, eliminate their nuclear arsenals, in accordance with their commitments and obligations under international law and in particular the non-proliferation treaty. nuclear weapons (NPT), which remains the cornerstone of the struggle for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.
It would be illusory to expect that the treaty will give birth tomorrow to a world without nuclear weapons. Rather, it is seen as the starting point for long-term action – undertaken on a humanitarian and legal level – for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. This is how international law works.
Other treaties banning the use of specific weapons ended up imposing a new standard that led to policy changes in countries that had not yet adhered to them. To do this, this document also represents a formidable lever of influence for supporters of the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.
How can we bring this treaty to life, strengthen it and apply it?
Peter Maurer The entrance Tian’s force marks a new start in action to rid the world of nuclear weapons. We must now endeavor, in the coming years and decades, to promote respect for the prohibitions established by this text. We must ensure that its provisions are rigorously implemented by States Parties, and each signature and ratification will be one step closer to our goal.
We will also continue to urge nuclear weapon states and their allies to take action to reduce the risk of use – by lowering the operational alert threshold and reducing the role of nuclear weapons in their operations. security policies and their military doctrines, in particular – and, of course, in the long term, to sign and ratify the treaty.
Finally, we must continue to raise awareness of the catastrophic humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, and the need to protect current and future generations from the dangers of these most terrifying weapons ever invented. It is our duty to prevent what we are unable to prepare for.
In the end, is it possible to abolish nuclear weapons?
Peter Maurer This Treaty marks a turning point in favor of an effective mitigation of the long-term effects of these weapons of mass destruction and reorients the debate, usually dominated by the perspective of the possessing states, on the weapon itself and its consequences catastrophic on the humanitarian level.
The Tian bans set a clear standard, a benchmark against which all efforts to achieve a world without nuclear weapons will be judged. Whatever time frame one sets for ridding the world of the nuclear threat forever, it can only be achieved by relying on a legal standard that expressly prohibits nuclear weapons. To date, 86 states have signed the treaty and 51 have also ratified or acceded to it, but our work will not be finished until all states have done the same.