ICAN Change the World! UN Nuclear Ban Treaty in force from 22 January 2021, after Decades of CND Campaigning

Nuclear Ban enters into Force – CND
The 1954 Bikini Atoll Atomic Bomb – Wikimedia Commons

22nd January 2021 sees the introduction of the UN International Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons – banning in international law for the first time, the usage of atomic bombs in warfare.

The impact of this momentous moment should not be let to slip quietly past in the shadow of the COVID lockdown, or the US Presidential transition. The Nuclear Ban represents the realisation of many decades of campaigning by CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) and CND Cymru anti-nuclear activists Wales and world wide, coordinated globally through the appropriately named ‘ICAN’ movement – the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons – awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017.

22 January 2021 marks the moment the UN Nuclear Ban formally comes into force. This process started with the UN Nuclear Treaty Conference in July 2017 (where 122 states voted in favour), since when – from September 2017 – individual nations’ governments have been ratifying the Treaty. 50 signatories are required for the UN General Assembly to pass International Treaties into law, a landmark symbolically passed on World Peace Day, 24 Oct 2020 as Honduras became the 50th Signatory to ratify the Nuclear Prohibition Treaty – triggering its accession into international law from January 2021.

In Wales, the day is being marked with a lunchtime Vigil at the Senedd between 12-1pm, one of 155 events worldwide for ‘Entry Into Force’ Day.

ICAN Save the World: CND Cymru Campaigners have led Wales’ role in one of this centuries’ greatest global peace movements – earning the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.

CND Cymru Archives

But in the midst of lockdown, many lifelong anti-nuclear campaigners will perhaps be marking the day at home with a hard-earned ‘sign of relief’… and this feature is but a small tribute to them – showing just what internationalists can achieve with an ‘ICAN’ attitude to activism for a better world.

Over the course of 2020-21, WCIA and CND Cymru have been working closely together to digitise CND Cymru’s Archives for future posterity, to be accessible to students and researchers – but also to generations of CND Campaigners as a reminder of their campaigning efforts over the years. Over the Christmas / New Year break, WCIA volunteers Sean, Iman and Josephine have been hard at work indexing over 40 years of ‘Campaign Wales’ and ‘Heddwch’ magazines, which can now be explored online:

CND Archives Homepage
Heddwch Magazine Cover Art – WCIA Flickr

On the introduction of the Nuclear Ban, Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford has stated: “The adoption of the UN Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (is) a significant step towards our long-term ambition for a nuclear free world. As more nations ratify this treaty, together we create hope for a different future – without nuclear weapons and without a nuclear deterrent.”

The CND Archives project is part of WCIA’s ongoing commitment to draw together the story of Wales’ Peace Heritage, started through the WW100 Wales for Peace programme.

More about the International Nuclear Ban: