Quakers welcome historic Nuclear Ban Treaty

The UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) – also known as the Nuclear Ban Treaty − is entering into force as international law on 22 January 2021, having been ratified by Honduras, the 50th state, in October. It comprehensively prohibits participation in any nuclear weapon activities.

white image on red, broken bomb
Huge welcome for Nuclear Ban Treaty

Quakers in Britain welcome the Treaty. They have been campaigning for decades to rid the world of these weapons of mass destruction. In 1955 Meeting for Sufferings, the decision-making body for Quakers in Britain, said, "To rely on the possession of nuclear weapons as a deterrent is faithless; to use them is a sin."

So far, the UK government is refusing to engage with the Treaty. Quakers in Britain are urging the government to sign up to the Treaty and not to boycott it.

Although the TPNW is only binding on the states that join it, the Treaty's entry into force will also affect countries that are not party to it. It will help to stigmatise nuclear weapons, and it reflects the breadth of opposition to them across the world. In addition to the 50 states that have ratified the Nuclear Ban Treaty so far, there are also 86 signatories to it. On 7 December 130 countries voted at the UN General Assembly to welcome it, and to call on all states to join it.


To rely on the possession of nuclear weapons as a deterrent is faithless; to use them is a sin.

- Quakers Meeting for Sufferings 1955


Friday 22 January marks ninety days after the 50th ratification when the treaty will enter into force as international law. The nine nuclear-armed nations (US, Russia, China, UK, France, Israel, India, Pakistan, North Korea), have so far boycotted the Treaty.

This historic Treaty would not have been possible without the steadfast work of the global movement for nuclear disarmament, in which Quakers have played an active part. Quakers in Britain joined more than 440 non-governmental organisations in supporting the Treaty.

Around the key date of 22 January, Quakers across Britain will be showing their support for the Treaty:

On Friday 22 January there will be a gathering to mark and celebrate TPNW's entry into force with a Thanksgiving Service hosted by the Network of Christian Peace Organisations, of which Quaker Peace & Social Witness is a member. Click here for the Zoom link. Service begins at 11.30am.

Follow the Partner Organsations in the UK for news, and ICAN ( the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) can provide resources to show how the Treaty comprehensively prohibits participation in any nuclear weapon activities: “It bans the production, development, stationing, and testing of nuclear weapons, as well as use and threat of use; forbids assistance for all prohibited activities; and requires the provision of assistance to victims and remediation of polluted land from nuclear weapon use and testing".

For background details, news and comment see the Northern Friends Peace Board.

Marigold Bentley has written this blog. She is head of Peace Programmes and Interfaith Relations for Quakers in Britain.

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