ICRC President Peter Maurer (Photo Courtesy of the ICRC)

ICRC Welcomes Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons 

JANUARY 23, 2021

Geneva. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement applauded Friday’s enactment of the first international humanitarian law to include provisions to help address the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of using and testing nuclear weapons. 

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) explicitly and unequivocally prohibits the use, threat of use, development, production, testing and stockpiling of nuclear weapons, and it obliges all States Parties to not assist, encourage or induce anyone in any way to engage in any activity prohibited by the Treaty.  

Calling the treaty as “a victory for humanity” after more than 75 years of work, International Committee of the Red Cross President Peter Maurer said it sends a clear signal that nuclear weapons are unacceptable from a moral, humanitarian and now a legal point of view. 

“It sets in motion even higher legal barriers and an even greater stigmatization of nuclear warheads than already exists. It allows us to imagine a world free from these inhumane weapons as an achievable goal,” he said in a statement. 

“The Treaty is a ground-breaking step to address the legacy of destruction caused by these weapons. The compelling evidence of the suffering and devastation caused by nuclear weapons, and the threat their use may pose to humanity’s survival, makes attempts to justify their use or mere existence increasingly indefensible. It is extremely doubtful that these weapons could ever be used in line with international humanitarian law,” Maurer said.

He added that Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders celebrate the entry into force of the TPNW and salute all 51 states whose backing of the Treaty makes clear their refusal to accept nuclear weapons as an inevitable part of the international security architecture. 

He also invited other world leaders, including those of nuclear-armed states, to follow suit and join the path toward a world free of nuclear weapons, in line with long-standing international obligations, notably those under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

 “The entry into force of this instrument of international humanitarian law comes as a welcome and powerful reminder that despite current global tensions, we can overcome even our biggest and most entrenched challenges, in the true spirit of multilateralism,” Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said. 

“This capacity to effectively unite and coordinate our action should be called upon as we grapple with other global, deadly challenges.” 

The Treaty obliges states to provide assistance, including medical care, rehabilitation and psychological support, to victims under their jurisdiction without discrimination, and ensure their socio-economic inclusion. It also requires states to clear areas contaminated by nuclear use or testing.