External comments: This is a debate article. Analysis and position are the writer’s own.
Nuclear weapons are banned! 50 states have ratified the UN treaty banning nuclear weapons, and the ban is now international law. What does this mean for Norway?
In July 2017, a large majority of the world’s countries adopted a ban on nuclear weapons at the UN. The ban has now received the necessary 50 ratifications and in 90 days the agreement will become part of international law. The world has been given a tool that can end decades of paralysis in international disarmament work.
The nuclear weapons ban establishes one new and stricter norm against nuclear weapons and is an expression of the fact that a majority of the world’s states consider it outdated, unacceptable and illegitimate to threaten the mass murder of civilians. This stigma is crucial to weakening the power and prestige that still envelops nuclear weapons.
The ban also makes it more difficult to develop new nuclear weapons. The stigma has already contributed to financial institutions withdrawing their investments from nuclear weapons production, and it will be even more difficult to account for such investments when the ban now becomes part of international law.
States that claim to work for disarmament must deal with the new dynamics that the nuclear ban has created in international disarmament work.
Norway boycotted the negotiations in 2017, and has neither signed nor ratified the nuclear ban. This is despite the fact that 78 percent of the Norwegian population supports the ban (according to a survey conducted by Respons Analyze on behalf of Norwegian People’s Aid in 2019).
At the same time as our elected representatives say they want a world free of nuclear weapons, they legitimize nuclear weapons by seeking protection through nuclear deterrence.
This paradoxical position is about to crack. More and more people are realizing that a defense policy based on nuclear deterrence is not compatible with the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.
“By invoking protection with nuclear weapons, we promote a dangerous and erroneous belief that nuclear weapons create increased security. Instead of facilitating progress towards a world free of nuclear weapons, we are making it more difficult. We are extending the danger posed by nuclear weapons because we are afraid of the reactions of allied countries that are clinging to these weapons of mass destruction. “
It wrote 56 former ministers from 22 different countries in an open letter in support of the UN ban earlier this autumn. In the letter, former heads of state, foreign ministers and defense ministers from countries claiming protection from Allied nuclear weapons called on current leaders to work for disarmament before it is too late.
Today’s leaders in Norway and in the other states that allow the nuclear weapon states to threaten the use of nuclear weapons on their behalf, so-called umbrella states, must relate to the new norm in the international community. A normal where the majority of the world states take the political fight against nuclear weapons, for disarmament and abolition. These states have realized that the current situation is unsustainable:
The danger of nuclear war is increasing and we are in a new nuclear arms race. The states that have adopted, signed and ratified the UN nuclear ban do not wait for the nuclear-weapon states to make sense. They have realized that this will not happen without pressure.
When Norway argues against the world’s worst weapons of mass destruction being banned, we are helping to defend nuclear weapons.
Norway has a choice. Do we want to continue to legitimize the possession and potential use of nuclear weapons? Or do we want to participate in the global charity effort to stigmatize, ban and abolish nuclear weapons by clearly stating that nuclear weapons and threats to use nuclear weapons, no matter who they come from, are unacceptable?
- Bernt G. Apeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Red Cross
- Henriette Westhrin, Secretary General of Norwegian People’s Aid
- Dagfinn Høybråten, Secretary General of Norwegian Church Aid
- Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council
- Birgitte Lange, Secretary General Save the Children
- Olav Fykse Tveit, president of the Church of Norway
- Berit Hagen Agøy, international director, Interchurch Council for the Church of Norway
- Erhard Hermansen, Secretary General of the Christian Council of Norway
- Stein Villumstad, contact for Religions for Peace in Norway
- Atle Sommerfeldt, Bishop of Borg
- Huynh Tan Hai, Vicar General Oslo Catholic Diocese
- Hanne Hognestad, leader of the Quaker Society
- Øistein Sommerfeldt Lysne, leader of Humanistisk Ungdom
- Eilif Tanberg, leader of the Norwegian Christian Student Union
- Håvard Skjerdal, communications manager YWCA-YMCA Global
- Kjersti Barsok, union leader of the Norwegian Civil Servants Association
- Christopher Beckham, Federal Trade and Office Leader
- Jan Olav Andersen, Federation Leader Electricity and IT
- Sandra Åberg Kristiansen, Youth Leader Electricity and IT
- Mats Monsen, leader of Fagforbundet Ung
- Tonje Tovik, Secretary General of Framfylkingen
- Solveig Schjetne Valheim, leader Naturviterne student
- Frode Pleym, head of Greenpeace Norway
- Anja Bakken Riise, leader of the Future in our hands
- Silje Ask Lundberg, leader of the Nature Conservation Association
- Therese Hugstmyr Woie, Head of Nature and Youth
- Steinar Winther Christensen, leader of the Grandparents’ Climate Action
- Christian Eriksen, Head of Department Bellona
- Akari Izumi Kvamme, general manager No to Nuclear Weapons
- Signe Flottorp, chairman of the board of Norwegian doctors against nuclear weapons
- Robert Flobergseter, leader of the Red Cross Youth
- Oda Andersen Nyborg, general manager of the Norwegian Peace Council
- Norunn Grande, acting general manager of Nansen’s Peace Center
- Elsa-Britt Enger, Grandmothers of Peace
- Irene Elise Hamborg, chair of the Norwegian Peace League
- Embla Regine Mathisen, leader of Changemaker
- Liss Schanke, leader of the International Women’s League for Peace and Freedom
- Hege Skarrud, leader of Attac Norway
- Julie Rødje, leader of Spire
- Arne Thodok Eriksen, board member of the Peace Movement at Nesodden
- Lea Mariero, Leader of the Press – Save the Children Youth
- Lillian Hjorth, general manager of the Human Rights Academy
- Gro Lindstad, general manager Forum for Women and Development Issues
- Sofie Henriette Patzke, leader RE: ACT Norway
- Thea Tveter Lysvik, leader of Norwegian People’s Aid Solidarity Youth
- Ørjan Leiknes Apeland, Chairman of the Board of Pharmacists Without Borders
- Astrid Willa Eide Hoem, leather ON
- Teodor Nordenstrøm Bruu, spokesperson for Green Youth
- Synnøve Kronen Snyen, leader of Socialist Youth
- Alberte T. Bekkhus, leader of Rød Ungdom
- Edel-Marie Haukland, leader of the Christian People’s Party Youth
- Tuva Widskjold, coordinator ICAN Norway