The Pacific island nation of Tuvalu ratified the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on Oct. 12, becoming the 47th nation in the world to do so. Only three more ratifications are now needed to bring this crucial treaty into force. The treaty will establish a comprehensive ban on the worst weapons of mass destruction and help pave the way to their total elimination.

Tuvalu and 11 other Pacific small-island developing states delivered a joint statement in October to the United Nations. They said their region has suffered from the effects of decades of nuclear testing by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France.

“More than 300 nuclear tests were carried out in the Pacific from 1946 to 1996—in the atmosphere, underground, and underwater. Our communities living close to ground zero were relocated from their ancestral islands and restricted from using the ocean resources for their livelihoods, and they faced an increase in related health problems.”

The 12 nations appealed to all nations that have not yet done so to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, as well as the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1996. “We Pacific small-island developing states say no to nuclear weapons, and we reiterate our commitment to the elimination of nuclear weapons everywhere,” the 12 nations wrote.

This information came Oct. 13 from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (https://www.icanw.org/), which also notes that the US has 5,800 nuclear weapons and has conducted 1,030 nuclear tests. ICAN suggests the necessary 50 signatories may ratify the UN Treaty this year, and 90 days after that, the treaty will “enter into force,” becoming international law. PeaceWorks-KC plans to celebrate the treaty’s entry into force, perhaps in February or March. Stay tuned!