An international treaty banning nuclear weapons has been ratified by a 50th country, the UN said on Saturday, allowing the “historic” text to enter into force after 90 days.
While nuclear powers have not signed up to the treaty, activists who have pushed for its enactment hold out hope that it will nonetheless prove to be more than symbolic and have a gradual deterrent effect.
Honduras became the 50th country to ratify.
UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres called it “the culmination of a worldwide movement to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons”, according to a statement from his spokesman.
“It represents a meaningful commitment towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons, which remains the highest disarmament priority of the United Nations.”
NGOs also welcomed the news, including the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican), a coalition that won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its key role in bringing the treaty to fruition.
“Honduras just ratified the Treaty as the 50th state, triggering entry into force and making history,” Ican said in a tweet.
Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said in a statement: “Today is a victory for humanity, and a promise of a safer future.”
The 75th anniversary of the nuclear attacks on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, marked in August, saw a wave of countries ratify the treaty.
They have included Nigeria, Malaysia, Ireland, Malta and Tuvalu.
Thailand, Mexico, South Africa, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Vietnam and the Vatican are among the countries that had already ratified it.
It is now to enter into force on January 22, next year, the UN said.