Bolivia ratifies nuclear weapons ban treaty, becoming 25th nation, reaching half the number needed to come into force

by Yumi Kanazaki and Aya Kano, Staff Writers

At midnight, Japan time, on August 6, the South American nation of Bolivia completed its procedures for ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Bolivia is now the 25th nation to ratify the treaty, which is half the needed number of 50 for the treaty to enter into force. More than two years have passed since the treaty was adopted on July 7, 2017. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and A-bomb survivors’ groups are hoping that the treaty will enter into force as swiftly as possible.

Bolivia submitted the instruments of ratification, the document required to join the treaty, to the U.N. in conjunction with the anniversary day of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Out of the 25 nations that have ratified the treaty to date, 12 of them are located in Latin America and the Caribbean. The fact that the countries of this region are part of a nuclear-weapon-free zone treaty is behind this support.

A total of 46 nations have signed the nuclear weapons ban treaty as the first step for participation. The next moves of these nations will determine when the treaty will enter into force.

Tomoyuki Mimaki, 77, the acting chair of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organization (Hiroshima Prefectural Hidankyo) assessed the current conditions and said, “Whether or not a nation is able to ratify the treaty depends on how its relationship with the United States, the superpower, would be affected.” He also conveyed his hopes by saying, “I hope the treaty will be ratified by as many nations as possible so this trend can also spread to other countries.” Kunihiko Sakuma, 74, the chair of the other Hiroshima Prefectural Hidankyo, expressed appreciation for Bolivia’s ratification. “I’m really grateful that the number of ratifying nations has now reached half of the number required. This is very encouraging for us as we look toward the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing next year.”

In response to achieving this milestone for the TPNW, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a non-governmental organization which played an important role in the establishment of the treaty, released a statement by Setsuko Thurlow, 87, an A-bomb survivor living in Canada. In the statement, Ms. Thurlow implored the nations which continue to rely on the so-called nuclear umbrella, including Japan and Canada, to stop being an accomplice to the nuclear weapon states and join the nuclear weapons ban treaty.

(Originally published on August 8, 2019)