In what is set to be a historic moment at the United Nations, Member States will adopt on Friday a legally-binding treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons.
In all, 122 nations voted in favor of the treaty, while only one, the Netherlands, voted against it. Singapore abstained.
Whyte Gomez, Costa Rica's U.N. ambassador in Geneva, said 129 nations signed up to help draft the treaty, which represents two-thirds of the 193 member states.
"By delegitimizing nuclear weapons and raising awareness of the terrifying dangers that come from continued reliance on them, the nuclear ban makes a valuable contribution to nonproliferation and disarmament efforts", Meredith Horowski, the global campaign director for the anti-nuclear weapons group Global Zero, said in a statement. "The world has been waiting for this legal norm for 70 years". The Draft of the UN Treaty to ban nuclear weapons would commit signers to "never use nuclear weapons and never develop, manufacture, or otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear devises".
Tragically, human error or miscalculation could lead to a humanitarian catastrophe", the Bishops said in a joint declaration, titled "Nuclear Disarmament: "Seeking Human Security", on Thursday (6 July).
The basic premise, the treaty's opening passage states, is a recognition of "the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from any use of nuclear weapons", and an agreement that their complete elimination "remains the only way to guarantee that nuclear weapons are never used again under any circumstances".
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Except for one thing: None of the countries that actually have nuclear weapons adopted the treaty, so it doesn't technically apply to them. The Netherlands, which hosts USA nuclear weapons, was the only exception and it voted against the treaty. It also bans any transfer or use of nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices - and the threat to use such weapons.
That pact sought to prevent the spread of atomic arms beyond the five original weapons powers - the U.S., Russia, Britain, France and China.
In response to questions, Ms. Whyte Gómez stressed the importance of putting an worldwide legal norm in place as a first step towards achieving a nuclear-weapons-free world, explaining that when conditions later become ripe for those nuclear-armed States to join, an architecture by which to do so exists.
She added that the hibakusha, survivors of nuclear bombs, have been the driving force in the creation of the nuclear weapons prohibition treaty. By boldly outlawing the possession of nuclear weapons the treaty fundamentally changes the terms of the global nuclear weapons debate.
She asked if anyone thought North Korea would give up its nuclear weapons, stressing that North Koreans would be "cheering" a nuclear ban treaty - and Americans and others would be at risk.