New UN treaty outlaws nuclear weapons

First Phase DigitalToday at UN HQ in New York more than 120 countries adopted a landmark treaty to ban nuclear weapons. All nine nuclear armed states, and all NATO members except the Netherlands, refused to participate in the negotiations.

These states recognize that the ban treaty would represent a potent stigmatization of the nuclear weapons they still cling to and an act of political and moral protest against their retention. (Paul Meyer)

The treaty prohibits the possession, development, use or threat of use of nuclear weapons and provides for nuclear weapons states to become parties by either a “destroy and join” or “join and destroy” plan for the verifiable elimination of their nuclear weapons. It also explicitly prohibits the stationing of nuclear weapons on the territory of non-nuclear weapons states.

This new prohibition lays bare the fundamental contradiction between Canada’s legal status as a non-nuclear weapons state under the NPT and our active participation in NATO – a nuclear-armed military alliance. (Peggy Mason)

The Canadian position on the treaty was, in part, influenced by a U.S. memo from last year that strongly encouraged all NATO allies to vote against negotiations. Andrew Leslie, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, went so far as to call the treaty negotiations “premature and ineffective” last month in Parliament. After decades of empty platitudes and inaction on the part of the Canadian government, it’s hard to believe that any forward movement on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation can be considered ‘premature’.

The integrity of the Canadian position that it really wants to do away with nuclear weapons, but not just yet, is in tatters. (Douglas Roche)

Despite the refusal of nuclear states and their strategic allies to participate, the treaty represents an historic step forward in the ongoing push for nuclear disarmament, marking a “new, reforming spirit in global nuclear affairs.” Some also see the treaty as a powerful sign that the international community will not be intimidated by nuclear powers.

It represents a structural change in the power structure between states… Emerging powers believe they can push an agenda that is not only opposed to the interests of the main military powers in the world but also something that condemns them. (Leonardo Bandarra)

In 1978 Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau told the UN that “we must impart a fresh momentum to the lagging process of disarmament.” In 2017, his son, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, had an unparalleled opportunity to help do just that. Instead Canada was not even at the negotiating table.


To learn more about the future of nuclear disarmament, join us at the Group of 78 Policy Conference, “Getting to Nuclear Zero: Building Common Security for a Post-Mad World,” on September 22nd.

For an important discussion of what parliamentarians can do to achieve a nuclear-free world, see the “Parliamentary Action Plan for a Nuclear-Weapons-Free World: 2017-2020”./


Photo credit: UN

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15 Responses to “New UN treaty outlaws nuclear weapons”

  1. DemetriosJuly 8, 2017 at 5:59 pm #

    PM Trudeau said that he couldn’t sign the document because Canada is a member of NATO. One hundred twenty countries signed the pact. The nuclear powers predictably did not, same with all the NATO states except for the Netherlands, a NATO member.

    Did you get that Justin Trudeau? Do you take Canadians for idiots? Do you realize that you are embarrassing and shaming us? You have missed another golden opportunity to make Canada a significant voice in disarmament for PEACE!

    • DemetriosJuly 9, 2017 at 7:21 pm #

      Well, it looks like I got that wrong. The Netherlands voted AGAINST the treaty. My apologies for the misunderstanding.

      It’s hard to believe how the people of the European Union countries who got saddled with all those refugees from the war zones that the USA and NATO have caused, aren’t in the streets protesting this most unsettling of burdens. What we saw with the G20 meeting in Germany this week might be a sign that this frustration has come to a head.

  2. Anne StreeterJuly 8, 2017 at 12:31 pm #

    Absolutely – shame on Canada & shame on Trudeau! This is not my idea of Sunny Ways or doing things differently! A leader is not addicted to selfies, mismatched socks & brown shoes. Grow up Justin (if possible) and do the right thing. So far you have failed miserably!

    • Carol PickupJuly 8, 2017 at 1:38 pm #

      Shame on the Trudeau government-it does not speak for me!!

  3. Don KerrJuly 8, 2017 at 10:38 am #

    The problem is that the Liberal government, under influence of the military, has accepted that MAD is the only answer to the nuclear threat, failing to recognize that it will continue to be less effective when more and more nations have nuclear bombs.

  4. Howard DoughtyJuly 8, 2017 at 6:45 am #

    OK, here’s the good news!

    1. The Netherlands is now the unofficial “leader of the free world.”

    2. No one has yet to suggest nominating Trudeau-the-Younger for a Nobel Peace Prize.

  5. Hilda FranzJuly 7, 2017 at 10:38 pm #

    This is encouraging. However, I’m deeply distressed that Canada was not a participant in this important decision. I think we should flood the PM’s office with emails challenging him to courageously stand up against the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and remind him to honour the legacy of his father.

  6. Lilli SoleilJuly 7, 2017 at 10:06 pm #

    SHame on you CANADA

  7. Lilli SoleilJuly 7, 2017 at 10:05 pm #


  8. Elaine HughesJuly 7, 2017 at 9:56 pm #

    I’m wondering if an e-Petition is in order here?
    [ ]

  9. Jocelyn ChouinardJuly 7, 2017 at 8:56 pm #

    There is absolutely NO PLACE for nuclear weapons in the world. So if the embarrassing fool that is the son of a brilliant politician is tenaciously holding on to nuclear weapons we MUST as a nation veto all bad decisions (there have been no beneficial ones) made by the uninformed and incompetent selfie addict name Justin !!!! Stop this uninformed fool from placing Canada in an irreversible position!!!!

    • Canada JoeJuly 8, 2017 at 2:55 am #

      You know his father authorized nuclear weapons to based in Canada in 1960’a and 70’s.

      Oh and how do you veto a government extactly?

      • DemetriosJuly 10, 2017 at 7:01 pm #

        Oh silly Joe. PET ok’d them during the height of the Cold War in the late 70’s and was being obliged by our southern neighbour, but Canada never got them.

        A veto can be a mass protest by the constituents of the country demanding to stop any particular decision or situation.

        • Canada JoeJuly 11, 2017 at 12:31 pm #

          Canada never got the Genie rockets? Really so those storage facilities at Comox, Cold Lake, Bagotville and Chatam were for?

          But you knew that right?

  10. Marie LloydJuly 7, 2017 at 8:22 pm #

    Thank you so much for sending us this news. Have Ceasefire and its affiliate organizations considered a petition urging the present government to join 120 other nations on earth which have enacted a ban on nuclear weapons? Can we somehow bring this possibility to the fore by directing energy toward it and asking all Canadian parties to state their position?
    It’s pretty horrifying that Canada has failed to sign! How little can we expect by way of sanity and safety from our present leader? At our Hiroshima Day commemorative event in Kingston, ON, I’m sure we can do a postcard and petition booth.