Cuba is Committed to the First Legally Binding International Agreement For Disarmament that is Now in Effect

By Milagros Pichardo on January 24, 2021

Nuclear test in French Polynesia, 1971. Photo: CTBTO

On January 22, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) has now become international law. This document, after the necessary ratifications, prohibits the 51 countries that are signatories from developing, testing, producing, constructing, acquiring, possessing or stockpiling, deploying, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, as well as assisting with or encouraging such actions.

Adopted on July 7, 2017, in UN Conference, with 122 votes in favor, the agreement represents the first multilateral legally binding instrument in force for disarmament.  It clearly establishes that nuclear weapons are not only inhuman, immoral, and ethically indefensible, but also now illegal.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hailed the implementation of the agreement and commended the nations that have already ratified it. He drew attention to the role played by survivors of nuclear explosions and tests, who offered their tragic testimonies and “were a moral force behind the Treaty.”

Among the outstanding provisions of the TPNW, the prohibition of nuclear weapons as a norm of International Law is prominent; it is hoped that this will achieve universal scope and will stigmatize the use of these weapons and generate political pressure to achieve disarmament and promote that new concept shall bind Signatory States, such as the obligation of assistance to victims of the use and testing of nuclear arms and environmental remediation.

This treaty, negotiated by more than 120 nations, was a response to the prolonged non-compliance with of the terms set out in Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and is not intended to undermine the integrity of that treaty, but rather to strengthen it and contribute to fulfillment of its objectives.

The Prohibition Agreement represents a fundamental step on the road toward the total and irreversible elimination of nuclear weapons.

The TPNW does not infringe on the current structure of international security, but rather effectively contributes to maintaining peace and international security, by proscribing the use of weapons of mass destruction with indiscriminate disastrous effects for life and the environment.


Cuba has ratified its commitment in favor of the elimination of nuclear weapons on numerous occasions. Among the principles of the foreign policy of the Republic of Cuba, as expressed in the Constitution, is the affirmation, “To promote general and complete disarmament and to reject the existence, proliferation, or use of nuclear weapons, of weapons of mass extermination and others with similar effects, as well as the development and use of new weapons and new forms of warfare, such as cyber-warfare, which violates International Law.”

It was through the initiative of Cuba, with the support of the Movement of Non-Aligned Nations, that on September 26, 2013, the UN General Assembly held a High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament.  In this meeting, the decision was made to convene an open membership plenary group that would develop concrete legal means and appropriate associated regulations to achieve a world without nuclear weapons.

Cuba signed this UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) on the first day it became available for signatories, September 20, 2017, and ratified it on January 30, 2018, among the first nations to do so.

The commitment of the region to nuclear disarmament has been shown in the Special Declaration of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and in the Treaty of Prohibition of Nuclear Arms in Latin America and the Caribbean establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Treaty of Tlaltelolco.

The position of Cuba is based on the humanist thought of Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz:

In this decisive hour for all peoples, it is precisely imperialism and not socialism that refuses to end nuclear testing. 

I truly believe that no country in the world should possess nuclear weapons, and that this energy source should be available for the service of humankind. 

The noise of weapons, of menacing language, of arrogance on the international scene, should cease. 

In a nuclear war, collateral damage would be the lives of all humanity. 

It is long past time to get rid of the illusion that the problems of the world could somehow be solved with nuclear weapons.

Source: Granma, translation, Resumen Latinoamericano, North America bureau