January 22, 2021 will remain a historic date : a multilateral treaty, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TIAN), adopted by two-thirds of the member countries of the United Nations in 2017, enters into force and makes nuclear weapons illegal, whether their possession, their manufacture, or the threat of their use, i.e. the nuclear deterrent strategy. The TIAN fills a legal vacuum and completes the ban on other weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical, as well as certain conventional weapons condemned for their impact on civilians.
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It will have effects even on countries that reject it. France, which has always wanted to be the country carrying the values of respect for international law, must not turn its back on this process of international democracy and must join the TIAN.
This agreement is the result of decades of persevering efforts by civil society, through organizations, many of which have been grouped within the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, in convergence with several States, including the Holy See, South Africa (former nuclear power) and New Zealand.
The organizations, governments, churches and trade unions which support the ban on nuclear weapons have not acted only out of frustration with regard to the holders of arsenals who have not kept their commitments, made in particular under the Treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons (NPT).
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The TIAN materializes the rejection of a system locked by the veto of these few countries and of a security system based on the capacity to perpetrate mass killings of civilians.
The nuclear powers, including France, Even though they declare that the TIAN will not impose any obligations on them, they will no longer be able to assert that their nuclear weapons are legitimate. They behave as if the NPT grants them an indefinite right to possess and use nuclear weapons, in contradiction with the spirit and the text of this treaty. Thus they try to justify the unjustifiable, namely the modernization and renewal programs of their nuclear arsenals, spread over several decades with hundreds of billions of euros.
However, Article VI of the NPT has done them well – for half a century – obligation to negotiate with a view to “the end of the nuclear arms race at an early date” and a “general and complete disarmament treaty” !
French authorities, like those of other nuclear powers, contradictory assert that nuclear deterrence excludes any recourse to nuclear weapons, even though they include in their doctrine scenarios for the use of atomic weapons (the “last warning”) and invest in new types more “usable” nuclear weapons, which dangerously lower the threshold for nuclear war.
→ TRIBUNE. Peace cannot be based on weapons of mass destruction!
The nuclear powers assert that the only realistic solution to disarmament is to proceed “step by step”, and set non-proliferation as a priority objective. In fact, all the measures under discussion (ban on nuclear tests or the production of military fissile materials, reduction of arsenals, non-use first, etc.) are currently blocked by these same powers. Moreover, by continuing to assert that nuclear weapons are the ultimate guarantee of their security, they make it even more attractive and they promote the proliferation which they claim to combat.
The president of the Republic must come out of three contradictions in which he has locked himself: he lambasted “unilateral disarmament”, while being proud of the reduction measures that France had taken unilaterally since the end of the Cold War; it advocates multilateralism, while rejecting the aspirations of a majority of states, including members of the European Union; it intends to include the protection of the environment in the Constitution whereas a nuclear war, even limited, would be a crime of ecocide taking into account its catastrophic consequences on the planet, its inhabitants and the future generations, as demonstrated more than 2,000 nuclear tests, the health and environmental effects of which are still felt today on the populations concerned.
→ READ. Emmanuel Macron wants to Europeanize nuclear deterrence
It is therefore high time, three quarters of a century after the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, for France to join the world movement for the progressive and multilateral elimination of nuclear weapons by joining the TIAN. France will thus contribute, as it has already done for other weapons of mass destruction, to the elimination of the most destructive weapon invented by human beings.
Declaration of January 22, 2021
Abolition of nuclear weapons – Maison de Vigilance, DNA (Nuclear Stop Collective)
AFCDRP (French Association of Municipalities, Departments and Regions for Peace) – Mayors for Peace, AMFPGN (Association of French Doctors for the Prevention of Nuclear War, affiliated to IPPNW, Nobel Peace Prize 1987), Amnesty International France (affiliated with Amnesty International, Nobel Peace Prize 1977), Artists for Peace EPP (Teachers for Peace, member of the International Association of Peace Educators – AIEP), ICAN France (affiliated with ICAN, Nobel Peace Prize 2017), IDN (Initiatives for nuclear disarmament), IPSE (Prospective and Security Institute in Europe), LIFPL France (International Women’s League for Peace and Freedom), League of Human Rights (affiliated with ICAN France), Peace movement (affiliated with ICAN and the International Peace Bureau, Nobel Peace Prize 1910), MIR-France (International Movement for Reconciliation, affiliated with ICAN France), National movement for the environment
Armaments Observatory, PAX Christi France, PNND France (Parliamentarians for non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament), Pugwash-France (affiliated with the Pugwash Movement, Nobel Peace Prize 1995).