Japan – the only state in the world that has ever experienced a nuclear attack – boycotted nuclear weapons ban treaty negotiations in November 2016 and the latest UN conference to prohibit nuclear weapons on July 7, 2017, siding with nuclear powers such as the US, Britain and France whose ambassadors have argued that the treaty “disregards the realities of the international security environment.” Meanwhile, hibakusha and their descendants have painstakingly fundraised year after year to send their members to said negotiations to speak on behalf of atomic bomb survivors and their plight for nuclear abolition.
On September 20, 2017, the newly approved treaty banning nuclear weapons will be open for signatures. Once ratified by 50 states, the treaty will enter into international law. Now is the time to honor the hibakushas’ efforts by pushing your government to become a signatory to this landmark treaty.
Advocates for nuclear abolition must emphasize the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons and how the development and use of nuclear weaponry is a direct violation of international humanitarian law. The Mine Ban Treaty (1997) and the Convention on Cluster Munitions (2008) both set a healthy precedent for how public opinion and stigmatization can have a significant role in the successful prohibition of a weapon.
Below are three things that you can do to speak up about how the development and use of nuclear weapons are a direct violation of international humanitarian law: