ON JANUARY 22, 2021
WE CELEBRATE THE TREATY ON THE PROHIBITION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS (TPNW)
Goal #1: The first goal is to make people aware of the TPNW.
Goal #2: Publicize that the TPNW goes into effect today.
Goal #3: Begin to use public awareness to pressure the US government to recognize, sign, ratify and comply with the TPNW. If that sounds like a lot it is, and it will take time. But it will never happen if we don’t make it happen.
What is the TPNW?
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) was approved at the United Nations in July 2017 by 122 nations. On October 24, 2020, Honduras became the 50th nation to deposit its ratification at the United Nations, triggering an automatic entry into force of the treaty 90 days later: January 22, 2021. Although Honduras was the 50th nation to register its ratification at the UN, there are actually 84 countries that have already signed the treaty!
Has the US signed the treaty?
No. None of the nuclear weapons states (US, Russia, England, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, North Korea) have signed the TPNW. Legally, the terms of the Treaty will not apply to them until they sign.
So what good is the treaty?
The enactment of the treaty ("Entry Into Force" on Jan 22 2021) will make nuclear weapons illegal under international law. This will pressure the "umbrella states" (i.e., those countries protected by agreements with nuclear powers, like NATO) to reconsider their international responsibilities. If they continue to allow nuclear weapons in their ports or weapons deployed on their soil or US military bases with nuclear capabilities, they will be acting in violation of the broad international consensus to ban nuclear weapons.
How does this impact the US?
According to Article 6 of the US Constitution, international treaties to which the US is a signatory are the “Supreme Law of the Land” and supercede national laws. Since 1970, the US (along with the UK, France, China, Russia) has been obligated under the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons to pursue disarmament “in good faith” “at an early date.” This new treaty (Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons) is an expression of the impatience of non-nuclear states with the failure of the nuclear weapsons states to meet their obligation to disarm. "Umbrella states" (see above)--now acting against the broad international consensus to ban nuclear weapons--can pressure the nuclear powers to make serious commitments to disarm and ban future development of nuclear weapons.
Mark the Entry into Force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on January 22, 2021
Here are some options of things we can do with others in our communities who are working for peace.
Please report back to NukeWatch after January 22. This is crucial—even if your action is a simple one. We gain strength from working together and knowing that people all over are taking action. Our efforts, large or small, are amplified when shared. NukeWatch hopes to build a database of actions to demonstrate widespread support for the Treaty across the country.
Here are some suggestions for local actions to mark the enactment of the TPNW treaty:
1. Everyone can learn about the Treaty. Don’t have to wait until Jan 22. See this Fact Sheet or a quick google search will turn up resources. Some as brief as 90 seconds; others are deep-dive webinars.
2. Hang or hold a banner in a public space. Activists will be hanging banners at nuclear weapons sites and nuclear military bases across the country. We have a template that you can use to have a banner made (around $50 if you go on-line) that you can hang or hold at any federal building—your local post office, federal courthouse, congressperson’s office.
2b. Think a banner is a bit much? Here is a template for a poster size version of the Treaty that you can hold or deliver or post in the place of your choice.
3. Focus on the $$$. Our friends in Europe have been successful in pushing investment funds and corporations to divest from nuclear weapons funding—the Treaty gives us even more leverage. You can find a list of the companies and banks that invest in nuclear weapons at Don’t Bank on the Bomb. You can hold a poster outside the local Bank of America or Wells Fargo branch office. If your credit card is issued by a nuke-bank, you can change cards or write to the issuer and ask them to get out of the illegal nuclear weapons business.
4. Check out your local university or college. There is a list here of US educational institutions that are directly involved in supporting nuclear weapons production. Some of them even operate nuclear weapons sites! Your local school not on the list? With a little digging, you might find out where their endowment funds are invested—chances are there is a link to a nuclear weapons corporation or fund.
5. Write your congressperson and US senators. Tell them you expect their name to be on the first bill introduced in the new Congress that addresses the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Tell them you’ll be watching. It is highly likely that Senator Ed Markey and Congressman Ted Lieu will introduce bills that include a call for the US to join the Treaty.
6. Write a letter to the editor. This is really important—it is a way to broaden your reach through the public media. Mention your congressional representatives by name so their staff will clip the letter and show it to their boss.
7. Share the news on social media. If you use instagram or facebook or if you tweet, you can share the ICAN pages and other news about the Entry Into Force.
8. Donate! You can write a check or give on-line. There are dozens of groups around the country that are dedicating themselves to long-haul work to make the promise of the Treaty a reality around the world and in the US. They rely on donations and public support to keep going. Even a small contribution counts.
9. Commit for the long haul. Find the group nearest and dearest to your heart and join so you can stay involved, track the progress of the Treaty, and learn about more things you can do to help make it a reality. Get on their mailing list, either on-line or on paper.
10. Ask your local place of worship to ring its bell for peace on January 22.
11. Ask your local government to join the ICAN Cities appeal. Present a copy of the Treaty and ask for a resolution calling on the US to join the Treaty.
12. Deliver copies of the treaty in person or send via mail (link to printable format) to congressional representatives and other public officials, nuclear sites and military bases, and business, financial and educational institutions with ties to nuclear weapons activities, with a warning of their complicity.
13. Watch for more ideas. You are encouraged to post your plans on the Nuclear Ban Treaty EIF facebook group, and to look at what others are planning to do.