The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Becomes International Law

A treaty to ban the use of nuclear weapons becomes international law on January 22, 2021. This is the date the treaty will enter into force, having secured the requisite number of ratifications from countries around the world.

So far, 86 countries have signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and 51 have ratified it. The treaty seeks to do to nuclear weapons what previous international treaties have done to chemical and biological weapons — that is, ban their use on humanitarian grounds.

Securing the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has been a years-long effort. And at the center of it all has been my guest today, Beatrice Finh. She is the executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 for its work on this treaty.

The last time Beatrice Finh and I spoke was just a few weeks after she received the call that her organization had won the Nobel Peace Prize, so I kick off by asking her what impact winning the Nobel Peace Prize has had on her work and the progress on the treaty?  We then spend the bulk of this episode discussing what exactly this treaty obliges of its member states and also the broader politics surrounding the effort to get countries to sign onto the treaty. So far none of the treaty’s state parties are nuclear weapons states nor member states of NATO. Still, as Beatrice Finh explains the treaty nonetheless is already having an impact on international affairs.

If you have 25 minutes and want to learn about the new treaty to ban nuclear weapons, have a listen


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