by Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova
This article appeared in Arms Control Today published on the Arms Control Association.
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has been hailed by supporters as a historic achievement that they hope will be, in the words of the Hiroshima atomic bombing survivor Setsuko Thurlow, “the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons.”
The treaty is the first international agreement that prohibits the use, possession, deployment, and stationing of nuclear weapons for all states-parties and challenges the legitimacy of nuclear deterrence policies.2 It opens for signature at the UN General Assembly in New York on September 20 and enters into force 90 days after the deposit of the 50th instrument of ratification.
Dismissed by the nuclear-armed states and their allies, the impact of the treaty will become evident only over time. The treaty’s negotiators do not have illusions that the new instrument will produce immediate results in reducing nuclear risks or nuclear weapons. Instead, the aim is to delegitimize nuclear weapons and make it more difficult for states to continue to rely on nuclear weapons as part of their military and foreign policy strategies.