Article by Mr. Aloysio Nunes Ferreira, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil (text only available in Spanish)


On July 7, the international community took a historic step with the adoption of the text of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, after a negotiating process whose convocation would not have been possible without the efforts of a group of countries that Brazil had the honor of integrating.

These countries were joined by the vast majority of United Nations Member States, which understood the humanitarian meaning of the initiative and actively participated in the negotiating conference with a constructive spirit and responsibility, so as to fill an unacceptable legal gap in the area of disarmament

The other weapons of mass destruction – chemical and bacteriological – had already been prohibited by legal instruments, but nuclear weapons, the only ones capable of annihilating life on the planet, also needed to be prohibited. This gap, which is now beginning to be overcome, will finally cease to exist when the new instrument reaches the 50 ratifications required for its entry into force.

The agreement was a victory for the United Nations and multilateralism, which establish understanding between States as the most appropriate and legitimate way to find solutions to global problems. The instrument is inspired by previous conferences that helped raise the awareness of governments and societies towards the impacts of the detonation of a nuclear device, the indiscriminate destruction of which is incompatible with the rules of humanitarian law that regulates conduct in times of war and with the own human dignity.

Despite the resistance of nuclear-armed countries, it was possible to adopt a treaty that reflects the historic and largely majority aspiration of the international community to prohibit the existence of these weapons. Furthermore, the new treaty constitutes an important complement to Article 6 of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which established the obligation of nuclear disarmament.

This unprecedented step must be credited to the persistence of those who, in the last 70 years, kept the hope of a world without nuclear weapons alive. A diverse and plural coalition of governments and civil society actors who were not resigned to the existence of such weapons. Brazil is proud to be part of that coalition, even by force of constitutional mandate. Therefore, he contributed, helped convene the negotiating conference and undertook efforts to overcome obstacles that could put the initiative at risk.

Today we must celebrate that victory of humanity in search of a world free of the senselessness represented by nuclear weapons. The moment is one of joy, but not of self-indulgence. We are aware that there is a long road to travel towards the universalization of the treaty, which will require a continuous effort of convincing.

The prohibition of nuclear weapons, in addition to an ethical and moral duty, will help to undo the justification for maintaining current arsenals. It has, therefore, a clear political meaning by legitimizing the fight for disarmament, particularly in countries that possess this type of weapons.

This means encouragement in a world so convulsed and full of conflicts, demonstrating that, with courage and good will, it is possible to build a better, more just, rational and secure world for current and future generations.

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