Credit: Johannes Daleng

Petition: Abolish nuclear weapons to assure a sustainable future

Joint statement by World Future Council members and Right Livelihood Laureates on the occasions of the Entry-into-Force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the 75th anniversary of UN Resolution 1 (1)

We, Right Livelihood Laureates and members of the World Future Council, express deep concern about the existential threat to humanity and the planet from the 14,000 nuclear weapons possessed by nine nuclear-armed States, many of them poised for use at a moment’s notice by decision of unstable leaders or through use by accident, miscalculation or crisis escalation.

The production, deployment, testing, use and threat to use nuclear weapons violate the Right to Life and other international law, threaten current and future generations, provoke international conflicts and consume resources required to address the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The very first resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, UN Res 1 (1) which was adopted by consensus on January 24, 1946, established the UN goal of the elimination of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. It is time to fulfil that goal.

On January 22, 2021, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) will enter into force making it illegal for States Parties to develop, test, produce, manufacture, acquire, possess, deploy, use or threaten to use nuclear weapons or to assist or encourage such acts. The treaty is an important measure by the 51 non-nuclear countries who have ratified, and others who may subsequently join, to advance the abolition of nuclear weapons through national nuclear prohibition measures and international promotion.

We encourage all ratifying states to adopt comprehensive implementing measures, to include the prohibition of the threat, use, production, testing, transit and financing of nuclear weapons within their territorial jurisdiction. In particular, the prohibition of nuclear weapons transit and financing, including public investments in the nuclear weapons industry, would impact considerably on the nuclear arms race and on the policies and practices of the nuclear-armed states.

In addition, we encourage the ratifying states to establish ministerial positions, public advisory committees and disarmament education funds to facilitate public education and effective policy to further advance the objective of a nuclear-weapon-free world, as has already been done, for example, in New Zealand.

The nuclear armed and allied states have said that they will not join the Treaty. As such, they will not be bound by it. However, they cannot escape their individual and collective obligations to achieve nuclear disarmament. They agreed to this in UNGA Resolution 1 (1). Most of them also agreed to this in joining the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Article VI of which requires them to achieve nuclear disarmament. In addition, they are bound by customary international law prohibiting the threat or use of nuclear weapons as affirmed by the International Court of Justice in 1996 and the UN Human Rights Committee in 2018.

The Entry-into-Force of the TPNW on January 22, and the 75th anniversary of UNGA Resolution 1 (1) on January 24, 2021, provide opportune occasions for non-nuclear governments and civil society to remind the nuclear armed and allied states of the illegality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons and of their nuclear disarmament obligations, and call on them to implement these immediately.

The nuclear armed and allied states claim that they require nuclear deterrence for their security. However, they have a legal obligation under the UN Charter (Article 2) to achieve security without reliance on the threat or use of force in their international relations. In addition, the UN and many regional bodies and treaty organisations, provide mechanisms for achieving security and resolving conflicts through common security approaches including diplomacy, negotiation, mediation, arbitration and adjudication – instead of through militarism and war.

And, if we have learned anything from the climate crisis, unprecedented biodiversity loss and the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that militarism and weapons, including nuclear weapons, are useless in addressing the key human security issues of today and tomorrow.

The 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), with 183 States Parties, has abolished biological weapons, and the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), with 193 States Parties, has abolished chemical weapons.  It is now time to abolish the third class of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons.

Measures the nuclear-armed and allied states should take include;

  1. Affirm that nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought, stand down their nuclear forces and affirm policies never to initiate a nuclear war;
  2. Replace nuclear deterrence with security frameworks based on human security and common security, including acceptance of the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice for international disputes not resolved by other means;
  3. Collectively join the TPNW, or alternatively start negotiations in a series of Summits or in a UN negotiating forum on the elimination of nuclear weapons under strict and effective international verification and enforcement;
  4. Cut nuclear weapons budgets, end investments in the nuclear weapons industry, and redirect these investments and budgets to support the United Nations, COVID-19 management and recovery, drastic reductions in carbon emissions to protect the climate, achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, and public education for disarmament and the peaceful resolution of conflict; and
  5. Commit to achieving the complete, global elimination of nuclear weapons no later than 2045, the 100th anniversary of the United Nations.

In this way, humanity can abolish nuclear weapons and help assure a sustainable future.


Endorsed by:

  1. Ales Bialiatski, Belarus, Right Livelihood Laureate 2020
  2. Alexander Likhotal, Russia, Member, World Future Council
  3. Alexandra Wandel, Germany, Chair Management Board, World Future Council
  4. Alice Tepper Marlin, United States of America, Right Livelihood Laureate 1990
  5. Alyn Ware, New Zealand, Right Livelihood Laureate 2009
  6. Anda Filip, Romania, Member, World Future Council
  7. Anders Wijkman, Sweden, Member, World Future Council
  8. András Biró, Hungary, Right Livelihood Laureate 1995
  9. Andrea Reimer, Canada, Member, World Future Council
  10. Angelina Davydova, Russia, Member, World Future Council
  11. Angie Zelter for Trident Ploughshares, United Kingdom, Right Livelihood Laureate 2001
  12. Anwar Fazal, Malaysia, Right Livelihood Laureate 1982
  13. Ashok Khosla, India, Member, World Future Council
  14. Cherie Nursalim, Indonesia, Member, World Future Council
  15. Chico Whitaker, Brazil, Right Livelihood Laureate 2006
  16. Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice (CCEJ), South Korea, Right Livelihood Laureate 2003
  17. Fernando Rendón, for  Festival Internacional de Poesia de Medellin, Colombia, Right Livelihood Laureate 2006
  18. Dan Ellsberg, United States of America, Right Livelihood Laureate 2006
  19. Dipal Barua, for Grameen Shakti, Bangladesh, Right Livelihood Laureate 2007, Member, World Future Council
  20. Frances Moore Lappé, United States, Right Livelihood Laureate 1987, Member, World Future Council
  21. Gino Strada, Italy, Right Livelihood Laureate 2015
  22. Hafsat Abiola, Nigeria, Member, World Future Council
  23. Hans Herren, Switzerland, Right Livelihood Laureate 2013, Member, World Future Council
  24. Hanumappa R. Sudarshan,India, Right Livelihood Laureate 1994
  25. Helen Mack, Guatemala. Right Livelihood Laureate 1992
  26. Helmy Abouleish, Egypt, Right Livelihood Laureate 2003, Member, World Future Council
  27. Herbie Girardet, UK, Honorary Member, World Future Council
  28. Hunter Lovins, USA, Right Livelihood Laureate 1983
  29. Ida Kuklina for Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers of Russia, Russia, Right Livelihood Laureate 1996
  30. Jacqueline Moudeina, Chad, Right Livelihood Laureate 2011
  31. Jakob von Uexküll, Founder of the Right Livelihood Award and the World Future Council
  32. Jan L McAlpine, USA, Member, World Future Council
  33. Jean Ann Bellini for Comissão Pastoral da Terra, Brazil, Right Livelihood Laureate 1991
  34. Juan E. Garcés, Spain, RLA 1999
  35. Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Hungary, Member, World Future Council
  36. Kehkashan Basu, Canada, Member, World Future Council
  37. Khadija Ismayilova, Azerbaijan, Right Livelihood Laureate 2017
  38. Mageswari Sangaralingam for SAM Sarawak, Malyasia, Right Livelihood Laureate 1988
  39. Maria Fernanda Espinosa, Ecuador, Member, World Future Council
  40. Marie-Claire Cordonier Segger, Canada, UK, Switzerland, Member, World Future Council
  41. Martín von Hildebrand for COAMA, Colombia, Right Livelihood Laureate 1999
  42. Maude Barlow, Canada, Right Livelihood Laureate 2005, Member, World Future Council
  43. Neshan Gunasekera, Sri Lanka, Member, World Future Council
  44. Nnimmo Bassey, Nigeria, Right Livelihood Laureate 2010
  45. Ole von Uexküll, Executive Director, Right Livelihood Foundation
  46. Paul Walker, United States of America, Right Livelihood Laureate 2013
  47. Raul Montenegro, Argentina, Right Livelihood Laureate 2004
  48. P K Ravindran for Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishat (KSSP), India, Right Livelihood Laureate 1996
  49. Sam Perlo-Freeman, for the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, Right Livelihood Laureate 2012
  50. Shrikrishna Upadhyay, Nepal, Right Livelihood Laureate 2010
  51. Sima Samar, Afghanistan, Right Livelihood Laureate 2012
  52. Sulak Sivaraksa, Thailand, Right Livelihood Laureate 1995
  53. Tony Colman, UK, Member, World Future Council
  54. Tony Rinaudo, Australia, Right Livelihood Laureate 2018
  55. Theo van Boven, the Netherlands, Right Livelihood Laureate 1985
  56. Walden Bello, the Philippines, Right Livelihood Laureate 2003
  57. Wes Jackson,  United States of America, Right Livelihood Laureate 2000
  58. Yetnebersh Nigussie, Ethiopia, Right Livelihood Laureate 2017