PH and the treaty banning nuclear weapons
On Oct. 6, the Nobel Committee announced that it had awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017 to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a coalition of nongovernment organizations in 100 countries, in recognition of its role in achieving the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons that was adopted by 122 states on July 7.
In its response to the announcement, the ICAN acknowledged that the treaty is a historic agreement that “offers a powerful, much-needed alternative to a world in which threats of mass destruction are allowed to prevail and, indeed, are escalating.”
Nuclear weapons are the most destructive weapons ever created, and they threaten the very survival of humanity and our Earth. Hence, the elimination of nuclear weapons has been the goal of ICAN from the time the network was established. After the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize, ICAN paid tribute to all those who have supported the treaty, particularly the campaigners all over the world, the survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or the hibakusha, the victims of nuclear test explosions worldwide, and the states that have signed and ratified the treaty.
It should be a source of pride that the Philippines is one of the first 50 countries to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was opened for signature last Sept. 20 (United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs). Long before the negotiations on the treaty, our delegation had constantly expressed the Philippines’ strong stand on the abolition of nuclear weapons. In 2015, the Philippine government reiterated this position in a statement at the UN: “We will continue to state the strong case for the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and tirelessly call for the start of a process … that will fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.”
It can thus be said that the Philippines has taken a leadership role on the matter even prior to the treaty negotiations. The Philippines has the distinction of being the first Asean country to endorse the “Humanitarian Pledge.” It was also among the first few countries that collectively issued a working paper at the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference that highlighted the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of using nuclear weapons. The working paper also cited the need for effective measures toward a legal framework that would ban nuclear weapons.
The “Humanitarian Pledge” reflected a fundamental shift in the international discourse on nuclear disarmament — moving away from a deterrence paradigm and toward one that looks at the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and the demands of true human and planetary security. In 2015, increasing international support for this pledge indicated that many governments were ready to move forward on the issue of prohibiting nuclear weapons, even if the nuclear-weapon states were not ready to join.
The Philippines’ consistent support for the cause culminated in its “yes” vote for the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons last July. It is hoped that the Philippines will continue to take the lead in this matter by ratifying the treaty soon.
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Loreta Navarro-Castro is the program director of the Center for Peace Education, and a professor of international studies and education at Miriam College.
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