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Nuclear Weapons Ban Talks Reach the Final Stretch

Posted by Martin Fleck on June 19, 2017

The nuclear weapons ban treaty is closer to reality! United Nations officials have drafted the treaty, and negotiations reconvened at the UN for the last session, from June 15 to July 7. On June 17, citizens showed their support for the treaty at the Women's March to Ban the Bomb in very rainy New York, as well as in "solidarity marches" in 32 other communities around the world. Thirteen of these were in the USA. Seventeen PSR members marched with the PSR banner in New York, and eight PSR citizen-lobbyists are spending the week of June 19-23 at the United Nations. PSR's team is working shoulder to shoulder with campaigners from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), advocating for the strongest possible ban treaty language and the maximum number of supporting nations.

Civil society groups including PSR and IPPNW have organized a plethora of "side events"—associated with the formal negotiations—for the benefit of the diplomats present. PSR Executive Director Jeff Carter will moderate a side event on June 21 cosponsored by the Austrian Permanent Mission to the UN, PSR/National, PSR/New York, Western North Carolina PSR, and others. The side event is titled The Road Back to the Nuclear Brink and will outline the most troubling aspects of the new nuclear arms race underway. PSR Security Committee co-chair Ira Helfand, MD will present at a June 27 IPPNW side event on The Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons.

Unfortunately, the United States and the other eight nuclear-armed states are boycotting the negotiations and proceeding to upgrade their nuclear arsenals. But even without their participation, with some 130 nations expected to sign, the ban treaty will serve to further stigmatize nuclear weapons. Our role at PSR is to advocate for a fundamental change in U.S nuclear weapons policy and stop the current U.S. drive to spend 1.2 trillion over the next 30 years on "the nuclear weapons enterprise." You can read PSR's June 15 press statement denouncing the U.S. boycott here.

Thanks to these folks who marched with PSR in the Women's March to Ban the Bomb in New York City, braving a torrential rainstorm:

Fran Cournos, Bob Dodge, Jonathan Down, Gwen DuBois, Cathey Falvo, Pat Ferrone, Terry Fitzgerald, Martin Fleck, Daniel Hall, Christine Herrmann, Ann Marie Judson, John Reuwer, Lynn Ringenberg, Bruce Rosen, Alicia Sanders, Elana Simon, Kristin Jensen Storey, Lauren Zajac.

When the nuclear weapons ban treaty opens for signatures, it will be the culmination of a multiyear campaign spearheaded by ICAN, which IPPNW helped found. PSR has been advocating for the total elimination of nuclear weapons since 1962 and for a nuclear weapons ban treaty since 2007. PSR & IPPNW have presented at all three HINW conferences and at the UN Open-Ended Working Group in Geneva. PSR teams of citizen-lobbyists advocated for the ban at the UN First Committee in October, 2016 and in the first week of ban treaty talks in March, 2017. Onward toward victory!

You can download the current version of the draft nuclear weapons ban treaty here.

The full calendar of UN side events is available here.

What you can do

Be a part of PSR's disarmament campaign! Sign up here to receive PSR Security Program action alerts. If you use twitter, follow the nuclear weapons ban campaign using #nuclearban. Congress has a critical role to play in U.S. nuclear weapons policy. To take part in local advocacy with your U.S. representatives and senators, contact Security Program Director Martin Fleck.

Don't Bank on the Bomb is a coordinated global divestment movement, sponsored by ICAN, that targets local institutions to divest from the nuclear weapons enterprise. You can ask your bank to divest its investments or ask your university or city to divest pension funds. In Europe, 18 banks controlling over 1.7 trillion Euros have adopted policies that strictly prohibit any investment of any type in any kind of nuclear weapon producing company. The Cambridge, MA, City Council voted to divest $1 billion in pension funds from nuclear weapons. Learn more at or on Twitter: @DontBankonBomb.  

Chesapeake PSR leaders Gwen DuBois MD and Terry Fitzgerald (both in yellow ponchos) provided food for thought along the march route. Their banner depicts the 1946 Baker test, a 23 kiloton atomic bomb exploded underwater. Thermonuclear weapons in today's U.S. arsenal range from 100 to 455 kt.

Spirits were high despite the heavy NYC rain
ICAN campaigners are helping change the world.

Melbourne, Australia: one of 32 solidarity marches.

A message to United States leaders.

Jonathan Down, MD flew from Victoria, BC to represent IPPNW affiliate Physicians for Global Survival at the march.
PSR's cause is too important to let a little rain interfere. Left to right: John Reuwer, MD from Vermont (in white poncho with red sign), Cathey Falvo, MD of New York, Lauren Zajac, MD of New York, Bob Dodge, MD, PSR-LA President, Jonathan Down, MD of Victoria, BC (behind his sign, hat but no umbrella) and PSR/Natl Communications Manager Elana Simon.


Kathleen Burkinshaw said ..

As thr daughter of a Hibakusha, I thank you for all you are doing in support of Banning the Bomb.

June 26, 2017
Eleanor Deyo said ..

On June 17, 2017, Wooster, Ohio, in Wayne County, a Ban the Bomb Rally was held downtown at the Gabazo at 1 pm. About 40 people ( plus more who walked by and stopped for a while) attended on this hot day. Posters were held at the sidewalk corners. Live music began the event, then 6 speakers, and free water bottles for those who needed it. Many agreed it was a success. But as a first time coordinator, I believe earlier and more organizing, could have brought a .bigger crowd. Also, people are already involved in many causes.

June 21, 2017

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