Tag: Prohibition

Implications of a nuclear weapons ban treaty for Japan

Japan—both a nuclear umbrella state and the only country to have suffered attacks by nuclear weapons—will be facing some very difficult decisions as the process towards a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons moves forward.

By Nobuo Hayashi  and Hirofumi Tosaki 
November 2016

On 27 October 2016, the UN General Assembly’s First Committee voted to commence negotiations in 2017 for the adoption of a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons. This latest development in the movement known as the “Humanitarian Initiative” comes at a time when the divide between the proponents and opponents of a nuclear weapons ban has become increasingly entrenched.

A ‘legal gap’? Nuclear weapons under international law

In December 2014, the Austrian government called on states and other stakeholders to ‘fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.’ The ‘Humanitarian Pledge’ to fill the legal gap has now been endorsed by more than 120 UN member states.

By Gro Nystuen and Kjølv Egeland
21 March 2016

Is there really a ‘legal gap’ in the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime? And, if so, is it a gap in substantive law or is it ‘just’ a compliance gap? This is the question Dr Gro Nystuen and Kjølv Egeland tackle in their feature in the most recent number of Arms Control Today. Read the full article at Arms Control Association’s website here.

A prohibition on nuclear weapons

A guide to the issues


This study surveys various views on how to promote and achieve nuclear disarmament in the current security environment. It draws on our institutes’ previous work on nuclear weapons-related issues, for instance, as part of analysing the so-called ‘humanitarian impacts initiative’, the work of the Conference on Disarmament, and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The Biological Weapons Convention

The scope, strengths, and weaknesses of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC)


Biological weapons are subject to the strongest ban among weapons of mass destruction under international law. The main legal instrument addressing biological weapons, the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), essentially bans the weaponization of biology. 

The fairness dimension

A treaty banning nuclear weapons would be worthwhile whether it leads to physical disarmament or not

By Kjølv Egeland
2 June 2015

The Non-Proliferation Treaty is an intrinsically unfair Treaty, which divides the world between “haves” and “have nots”’, the Brazilian delegation maintained in a statement to the NPT Review Conference in 2010. Five years later, at the 2015 Review Conference, the South African delegation asserted that ‘we can no longer afford to strike hollow agreements every five years which only seem to perpetuate the status quo. The time has come to bring a decisive end to what amounts to “nuclear apartheid”’. Over the last five years, a perception of nuclear colonialism, P5 arrogance, and a generally fraudulent nature of nuclear politics has proliferated. But such sentiments are hardly new. The ‘fairness dimension’ of nuclear disarmament has coexisted with the ‘humanitarian’ and ‘security dimensions’ all along. But with the ban-treaty option on the table, states are in a position to do something about it.

Roundtable discussion in Bangkok

On 26–27 March 2015, the WMD project of International Law and Policy Institute (ILPI) organised its ninth regional roundtable meeting on nuclear weapons in Bangkok, Thailand

By Torbjørn Graff Hugo & Magnus Løvold
19 May 2015

The meeting was organized in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand (TMFA) and brought together more than 30 participants mainly from the Asia-Pacific region, including government officials (from 13 different states), academics and civil society actors. The main objective was to share thoughts and ideas on how the humanitarian initiative on nuclear weapons can be taken forward, and specifically on how to close the ‘legal gap’ identified at the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons.

Banning the bomb: do not wait for the nuclear-armed states to begin

On February 14, 2014, Mexico’s Vice-Minister for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights called upon all committed states to join in the negotiation of a treaty to ban nuclear weapons [1]. In the aftermath of the Mexican announcement, several observers have raised concerns about the merits of such an initiative, especially if the process does not include all the nuclear-armed states. What good would a ban treaty do if it only covers states that have already renounced nuclear weapons under the NPT and through nuclear-weapon-free zones? And, in the words of the UN’s High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Angela Kane, ‘on what basis can anyone conclude that a ban-the-bomb treaty would eventually achieve universal membership?’ [2].

NATO and a treaty banning nuclear weapons

Implications for NATO of a ban on nuclear weapons 


As a matter of international law, there is no barrier to NATO member states’ adherence to a treaty banning nuclear weapons. Concerns about the political implications of such a treaty for NATO ignore historical variations in member state military policy and underestimate the value of a ban on nuclear weapons for promoting NATO’s ultimate aim: the security of its member states.