Geneva/New York (ICRC/IFRC) – The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement welcomes the entry into force today of the first instrument of international humanitarian law to include provisions to help address the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of using and testing nuclear weapons.The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) explicitly and unequivocally prohibits the use, threat of use, development, production, testing and stockpiling of nuclear weapons, and it obliges all States Parties to not assist, encourage or induce anyone in any way to engage in any activity prohibited by the Treaty.“Today is a victory for humanity. This Treaty – the result of more than 75 years of work – sends a clear signal that nuclear weapons are unacceptable from a moral, humanitarian, and now a legal point of view. It sets in motion even higher legal barriers and an even greater stigmatization of nuclear warheads than already exists. It allows us to imagine a world free from these inhumane weapons as an achievable goal,” said Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders celebrate the entry into force of the TPNW and salute all 51 states whose backing of the Treaty makes clear their refusal to accept nuclear weapons as an inevitable part of the international security architecture. They invite other world leaders, including those of nuclear-armed states, to follow suit and join the path toward a world free of nuclear weapons, in line with long-standing international obligations, notably those under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said: “The entry into force of this instrument of international humanitarian law comes as a welcome and powerful reminder that despite current global tensions, we can overcome even our biggest and most entrenched challenges, in the true spirit of multilateralism. This capacity to effectively unite and coordinate our action should be called upon as we grapple with other global, deadly challenges.”The Treaty obliges states to provide assistance, including medical care, rehabilitation and psychological support, to victims under their jurisdiction without discrimination, and ensure their socio-economic inclusion. It also requires states to clear areas contaminated by nuclear use or testing.“The Treaty is a ground-breaking step to address the legacy of destruction caused by these weapons. The compelling evidence of the suffering and devastation caused by nuclear weapons, and the threat their use may pose to humanity’s survival, makes attempts to justify their use or mere existence increasingly indefensible. It is extremely doubtful that these weapons could ever be used in line with international humanitarian law,” Mr. Maurer said.The Treaty enters into force as the world witnesses what happens when a public health system is overwhelmed by patients. The needs created by a nuclear detonation would render any meaningful health response impossible. No health system, no government, and no aid organization is capable of adequately responding to the health and other assistance needs that a nuclear blast would bring.The adoption by nuclear-armed states of more aggressive nuclear weapons policies and the continued modernization of nuclear weapons all worryingly point towards an increasing risk of use of nuclear weapons. That’s why it is imperative that we act now to prevent a nuclear detonation from happening in the first place, by removing any use and testing of nuclear weapons from the realm of possibility.States Parties, which will have their first meeting in the course of 2021, must now ensure that the Treaty's provisions are faithfully implemented and promote its adherence.“The Treaty presents each of us with a really simple question: Do we want nuclear weapons to be banned or not? We are ready, together with our Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies, to intensify our efforts to achieve the broadest possible adherence to the Treaty and insist on its vision of collective security. The entry into force of the Nuclear Ban Treaty is the beginning, not the end, of our efforts,” Francesco Rocca said. Antigua and Barbuda, Austria, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, Gambia, Guyana, Holy See, Honduras, Ireland, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mexico, Namibia, Nauru, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Niue, Palau, Palestine, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, South Africa, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam.
Geneva/New York, 24 October 2020 – The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement welcomes the coming into force of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).Fifty States have now ratified the Treaty, meaning that it will enter into force as an instrument of international humanitarian law in 90 days. The Treaty is the first globally applicable multilateral agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons. It prohibits their use, threat of use, development, production, testing and stockpiling. It also commits States to clearing contaminated areas and helping victims. By providing pathways for the elimination of nuclear weapons, the TPNW is an indispensable building block towards a world free of nuclear weaponsFrancesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said:“Today is an historic day: even a few years ago, the dream of a nuclear ban recognized by the international community seemed unfathomable. This is a victory for every citizen of the world, and it demonstrates the importance of multilateralism. I would like to congratulate all 50 States that have ratified the treaty and to call on all the other world leaders to act with courage and join the right side of history.“The simple reality is that the international community could never hope to deal with the consequences of a nuclear confrontation. No nation is prepared to deal with a nuclear confrontation. What we cannot prepare for, we must prevent”, Mr Rocca said.There are over 14,000 nuclear bombs in the world, thousands of which are ready to be launched in an instant. The power of many of those warheads are tens of times greater than the weapons dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said“Today is a victory for humanity, and a promise of a safer future. Too many times we have seen the dangerous logic of nuclear deterrence drag the world to the brink of destruction. Too many accept nuclear weapons as an inevitable part of the international security architecture. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons allows us to imagine a world free from such inhumane weapons as an achievable goal.”Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders have over the past years advocated with government leaders, parliamentarians, academics and with the public to reflect in depth on the humanitarian consequences of Nuclear weapons and the need to have a legally binding commitment for their prohibition and in the long term for their elimination. They also have urged the Nuclear possessing states to urgently take interim steps to reduce the immediate risks of use of nuclear weapons by intent, miscalculation or accident, and in the long term to sign and ratify the treaty.Prohibiting and eliminating nuclear weapons is a humanitarian imperative, and a promise to future generations that they will never have to live under the threat of nuclear catastrophe as we have experienced the past 75 years.“The use of nuclear weapons is, under any circumstances, unacceptable in humanitarian, moral and legal terms. We are ready, together with our Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies, to continue our advocacy to build a world without nuclear weapons: we need to scale-up and intensify our efforts. We must do it for future generations,” concluded Mr Rocca.
Geneva, 31 July 2020 –Seventy-five years ago, on the morning of August 6, 1945, a B-29 warplane released a terrifying new weapon on Hiroshima.The nuclear bomb wiped out the city, instantly killing an estimated 70,000 people and leaving tens of thousands more suffering horrific injuries. Three days later, on 9 August, a second nuclear bomb devastated the city of Nagasaki, immediately killing 39,000 people.By 1950, an estimated 340,000 people had died because of the bombs' effects, including from illnesses caused by exposure to ionizing radiation. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Japanese Red Cross Society witnessed the unimaginable suffering and devastation, as medical and humanitarian personnel attempted, in near-impossible conditions, to assist the dying and injured.The 75th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki comes even as the risk of use of nuclear weapons has risen to levels not seen since the end of the Cold War. Military incidents involving nuclear states and their allies have increased in frequency, and nuclear-armed states have made explicit threats to use nuclear weapons.Additionally, agreements to eliminate existing arsenals are being abandoned as new nuclear weapons are being developed, putting the world on the dangerous path of a new nuclear arms race. These developments add urgency to the international community's efforts to prohibit and eliminate these unacceptable weapons. The indisputable evidence of their catastrophic impact makes it extremely doubtful that their use could ever comply with international humanitarian law."The horror of a nuclear detonation may feel like distant history. But today the risk of nuclear weapons being used again is high. Treaties to reduce nuclear arsenals and risks of proliferation are being abandoned, new types of nuclear weapons are being produced, and serious threats are being made. That's an arms race, and it's frightening. We must push all states to ban nuclear weapons and push nuclear weapons states to negotiate, in good faith, steps towards their elimination," said Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)."The international community would not be able to help all those in need after a nuclear blast. Widespread radiation sickness, a decline in food production, and the tremendous scale of destruction and contamination would make any meaningful humanitarian response insufficient. No nation is prepared to deal with a nuclear confrontation," said Francesco Rocca, president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).Proving the wide support for a nuclear-free world, 122 states in July 2017 adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). The treaty will become legally binding for countries that ratify it after 50 do so; to date 40 have. The treaty prohibits the development, testing, production, stockpiling, stationing, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons. For nuclear-armed states that join the treaty, it provides for a time-bound framework for the verified elimination of their nuclear weapons program.Mr Maurer and Mr Rocca commended the states that have already joined the TPNW and encouraged all others to follow suit, ensuring the events of 1945 never occur again. The two leaders said it was crucial that the TPNW becomes a new norm of international humanitarian law."Not since the end of the Cold War has it been more urgent to call attention to catastrophic consequences and fundamental inhumanity of nuclear weapons. We must signal in a clear and unambiguous manner that their use, under any circumstances, would be unacceptable in humanitarian, moral and legal terms," said Mr Rocca.There are over 14,000 nuclear bombs in the world, thousands of which are ready to be launched in an instant. The power of many of those warheads is tens of times greater than the weapons dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima."Weapons with catastrophic humanitarian consequences cannot credibly be viewed as instruments of security," said Mr Maurer.
Antalya, Turkey, 11 November 2017 – A major conference has adopted a series of measures that will shape the efforts of the world’s largest humanitarian movement to respond to the needs of people affected by crises. The global meetings of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement looked at pressing emergencies and challenges, while also exploring emerging trends that will have a profound impact on the future of humanitarian action.The global meetings were held in Turkey – a country surrounded by some of the world’s most urgent humanitarian crises, including the conflict in Syria and the ongoing emergency facing people trying to cross the Mediterranean.The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement called on States to guarantee the safety and dignity of all migrants, along with their unrestrained access to humanitarian assistance.“We are calling on States to ensure that all people – regardless of their nationality or legal status – are treated with dignity and respect,” said Francesco Rocca, who was elected President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) during the meetings. “As a Red Cross and Red Crescent, we must be ready to stand up and advocate for all vulnerable migrants, for all vulnerable people. We must be prepared – we are prepared – to work with the international community for the respect and dignity of all people.”While emphasizing the need for new approaches to respond to dramatically shifting needs, the Movement also reaffirmed the non-negotiable importance of principled humanitarian action.“In a world where faith in institutions is rapidly evaporating, great trust is placed in the symbols of the red cross and red crescent and in the neutral, impartial, independent humanitarian action that brings them to life,” said Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). “But in many places across the world, the space for such impartial action is under threat. Human dignity is disregarded, the applicability of the law is questioned, and humanitarian aid is politicized.”One of the most pronounced examples of disregard for humanitarian law and norms is the increasing number of attacks on humanitarian aid workers and volunteers. Since the beginning of 2017 alone, more than 45 Red Cross and Red Crescent personnel have been killed in the line of duty.Further resolutions were adopted on education, with the Movement committing to expanding its work in this area in situations of conflict and disasters. On nuclear weapons, a resolution was adopted calling on States to sign and implement the recently-adopted Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.The Movement also pledged to scale up its response to the mental health consequences of humanitarian crises, and to strengthen and codify its work during pandemics and epidemics. Commitment was also made to reinforce gender equality and equal opportunities in the leadership and work of the Movement.The outcomes of the General Assembly and the Council of Delegates will feed into the 33rd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 2019 which will bring together States and components of the Movement.