On 6 and 9 August 1945, the United States dropped nuclear weapons on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This killed hundreds of thousands of people, decimated the cities, and left thousands more wounded and dying of radiation sickness—which has continued on to current generations.

Motivated by the horrific human suffering caused by nuclear weapons, the world has taken action. Just over one year ago, on 7 July 2017, 122 governments voted to adopt a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons—a new legally binding instrument outlawing the worst weapon of mass destruction for all time.

As a leader in the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), WILPF contributed to the development of this treaty by preparing advocacy materials for governments, promoting discussions on nuclear weapon impacts and the need for legal action, and participating in treaty negotiations. We even organised a mass public demonstration, the Women’s March to Ban the Bomb, which helped mobilise people around the world in support of the nuclear ban treaty! In March, we released a guide for WILPF Sections about the treaty.

Now, we are continuing to work for this treaty’s entry into force. So far, 13 countries have ratified the treaty. Fifty are needed for it to come into force. WILPF staff and members are part of the team of campaigners urging governments to join the treaty. We are also actively opposing nuclear weapons in the countries where they exist, working for economic divestment at municipal and national levels, blockading relevant facilities, and calling on parliamentarians to support the treaty.

The nuclear ban is the best tool we have to confront the nuclear threat. Unfortunately, while most of the world is eager to achieve a nuclear weapon free world, the nine countries that possess these weapons of terror are continuing to invest billions of dollars into their “modernisation”. About 14,000 nuclear weapons still exist, most of them in the arsenals of the United States and Russia. The arms race is back in news headlines; tensions between nuclear-armed states are on the rise. There are countless cases in which misperception, miscalculation, or mistakes almost resulted in the use of nuclear weapons. There have been accidents surrounding the handling, transfer, and deployment of nuclear weapons.

73 years after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States, we have prohibited nuclear weapons and we are agitating globally for a nuclear weapon free world. All governments should join the nuclear ban treaty now, to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used, tested, or threatened again. The money spent on nuclear weapons should be redirected to meeting human needs, and more peaceful, cooperative solutions to conflict and tension must be sought.

WILPF has always been at the leading edge of opposition to the bomb, and 2018 is time to double down on our work for the abolition of nuclear weapons! Some ideas are:

  • Hold a training about the nuclear ban treaty using our WILPF resource guide (available in in EnglishFrench, and Spanish)
  • Call or write to your foreign ministry or your prime minister’s/president’s office to ask your government to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
  • Call or write your Member of Parliament and ask them to sign the ICAN Parliamentary Pledge
  • Call your bank or financial investment institution and ask them to divest from nuclear weapons
  • Encourage your city councilors to divest city pension funds from nuclear weapons