September 26th is the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. On this day, countries around the world are encouraged to reaffirm their commitment to nuclear disarmament. There are currently 14,000 nuclear weapons in the world.
The nine countries that possess nuclear weapons include: Russia, United States, France, China, United Kingdom, Pakistan, India, Israel and North Korea. Russia has the most nuclear warheads with 6,850. The United States is close behind with 6,550.
Nuclear weapons are considered the most dangerous weapon on earth. Nuclear weapons have such an intense explosive power that they can cause damage in faraway places. Besides wiping out entire cities, nuclear weapons have the potential to kill millions of people. The long-term effects of nuclear weapons are catastrophic. They jeopardize the environment and the lives of future generations.
Nuclear weapons have only been used twice. In 1945, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought WW-II to an end. Nuclear weapons have not been used since. The United Nations hopes it stays that way.
The UN holds various events in order to educate people around the world about the importance of eliminating nuclear weapons. On this day, the UN also seeks to spread awareness about the threat nuclear weapons pose to humanity. It’s the goal of the UN that education and awareness will mobilize countries to get rid of their nuclear weapons.
If you want to observe the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, learn about how detrimental these weapons are to humanity. Educate yourself on how they pose a threat to the environment. Watch the award-winning movie, The Man Who Saved the World.
Through the years, the United Nations has made many resolutions to eliminate nuclear weapons. In 1946, the UN created the Atomic Energy Commission to eliminate atomic weapons and all other weapons capable of mass destruction. In 1996, the UN created the Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT) and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). Although signed, these treaties have yet to be enforced.
In 2009, the UN declared August 29th as the International Day against Nuclear Energy Tests. In 2013, during a meeting on nuclear disarmament, the UN marked September 26th as the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. To help make this a reality the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) was signed in 2017. The treaty has yet to be enforced.
How to celebrate
It is a day for awareness-raising. International days, such as the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, serve as opportunities to educate the public on important issues. During World War II, nuclear weapons caused massive destruction. It is a chance to rally political support. This day can also be utilized to address global issues. Even though nuclear weapons are under control, the international community should address a variety of global problems. It is a day to celebrate and reinforce the achievements of humanity.
Even though international days existed before the United Nations was founded, the U.N. has embraced them as an effective advocacy tool. The U.N. agenda is essential for addressing humanity’s problems.
When “geopolitical mistrust and competition” has pushed the nuclear risk to Cold War levels, total elimination of such weapons is the only route to a peaceful future, the UN chief has said. Secretary-General António Guterres issued his call in a statement marking the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons on Tuesday.
He warned that hard-won progress over many decades to prevent the use, spread and testing of nuclear weapons is being undone, and called for nuclear disarmament and a strengthened regime of non-proliferation.
In the decades since the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with all the horrific devastation and atrocious consequences that ensued, there has been some progress led by the UN – but that’s now being undone, said the UN chief.
In its very first resolution back in 1946 the UN General Assembly identified nuclear disarmament as a leading goal. Yet, today around 12,512 nuclear weapons remain. Countries possessing such weapons have well-funded, long-term plans to modernize their nuclear arsenals.
No lack of legal base
There is no lack of treaties and agreements, both regional and global, setting the framework for disposing of nuclear weapons. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) not only binds those ratifying it to stop the spread, it also encourages peaceful nuclear energy use, and disarmament. It’s the only treaty that compels nuclear-armed countries to commit to disarmament under international law. It opened in 1968, took effect in 1970, and was extended indefinitely in 1995. Some 191 countries, including five openly carrying a nuclear weapons arsenal, have joined it, making it the most ratified disarmament treaty.
The United States, for example, reaffirmed its commitment to the Treaty this July. Another important pillar is the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), adopted in 1996. It has been signed by 185 countries, and ratified by 170, including three nuclear weapons-holding States: France, Russia and the United Kingdom. However, to enter into force, the Treaty must be signed and ratified by 44 specific nuclear technology holding States, eight of which have yet to ratify: China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Pakistan and the United States.
A relatively new addition to the treaty system is The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) that envisages a comprehensive set of prohibitions on participating in any nuclear weapon activities, including undertakings not to develop, or test. This entered into force to universal acclaim, on 22 January 2021.
Eliminate nuclear risk
“The only way to eliminate the nuclear risk is to eliminate nuclear weapons,” said António Guterres urging countries to work together to banish these “devices of destruction to the history books, once and for all”.
That, according to him, means strengthening the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime, including through the Treaties on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons – and ratifying the CTBT without delay.
Mr. Guterres called to use “the timeless tools of dialogue, diplomacy and negotiation to ease tensions and end the nuclear threat”, reminding that disarmament is at the heart of his Policy Brief on a New Agenda for Peace, launched in July.