The Humanitarian Pledge to “stigmatize, prohibit and eliminate” nuclear weapons


An unprecedented series of intergovernmental and civil society conferences has laid the foundation for a political process that could finally ban and eliminate nuclear weapons. Norway hosted the First Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons (HINW) in March 2013 in Oslo. A follow-up Second Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons was held in Nayarit, Mexico in February 2014. An all-important Third Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, held in Vienna in December 2014, produced a Humanitarian Pledge “to identify and pursue effective measures to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.”

The Humanitarian Pledge, joined by 120+ countries, has become the focal point of ICAN’s campaign for a new treaty to ban nuclear weapons and to hasten the process of their elimination.

The Medical, Environmental, and Humanitarian Facts

IPPNW provided compelling medical and scientific evidence about the consequences of nuclear weapons at all three HINW conferences, and joined with other ICAN partners and colleagues in the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement in calling for effective steps to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons.

IPPNW campaign kit: Banning Nuclear Weapons: The Humanitarian Facts [LINK]

Why are nuclear weapons are in a class by themselves, and why do we have to consider them separately from other weapons that kill and destroy on a large scale?

IPPNW campaign kit: Banning Nuclear Weapons: The Humanitarian Facts [LINK]

An Evidence-Based Political Process

IPPNW Resource: The humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons (HINW) [LINK]

At the five-year review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 2010, the NPT member states said repeatedly that failure to act on nuclear disarmament risked “catastrophic humanitarian consequences.”

In November 2011, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement also referred to catastrophic humanitarian consequences when it adopted a new resolution condemning nuclear weapons and calling for international agreements to prevent their use and to ensure their elimination. The resolution cited the 1996 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, which concluded that “The destructive power of nuclear weapons cannot be contained in either space or time. They have the potential to destroy all civilization and the entire ecosystem of the planet.”

In 2012, the humanitarian grounds for eliminating nuclear weapons became a focal point for States determined to accelerate the pace of disarmament. A group of 16 States submitted a ground-breaking joint statement on the humanitarian dimension of nuclear disarmament” at the NPT PrepCom in Vienna. Later in the year, 35 States, including the original 16, told the UN First Committee: “Nuclear weapons have the destructive capacity to pose a threat to the survival of humanity and as long as they continue to exist the threat to humanity will remain.”

Support for a humanitarian-based approach to abolition has continued to grow. At the 2015 NPT Review Conference, an updated joint appeal was signed by 159 countries, who asserted “we firmly believe that awareness of the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons must underpin all approaches and efforts towards nuclear disarmament.”

IPPNW Resource: The humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons (HINW) [LINK]

For more information about IPPNW's programs, contact John Loretz, Program Director.