Friday, February 3, 2017

Tlatelolco 50: A Gift to the World

People from Mexico have a lot to be proud of. Especially their leadership in eliminating nuclear weapons.

The Treaty of Tlatelolco was signed in Mexico on February 14, 1967, establishing a nuclear weapons-free zone throughout Latin America. The 50th anniversary of the treaty is being celebrated, and it coincides with what is now a global movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

To put this in perspective, let's consider the trajectory of nuclear weapons since 1967.

The nuclear weapons era - and the significance of the Treaty of Tlatelolco.

The graph above shows the excruciatingly slow progress in reductions of US nuclear weapons since the peak of the buildup in the early '60s. The red line is the Treaty of Tlatelolco. How important it was that the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean responded to the suicidal behavior of the US, the USSR, and other countries by drawing a line and saying, "It stops here and now!"

I recommend the Wikipedia article on the treaty, because it gives perspective on how the Tlatelolco treaty and its related agreements pulled many other countries (including nuclear weapons states) into participating, in various ways, in the nuclear weapons-free paradigm. The Latin American treaty is the precursor of regional nuclear weapons-free zones in the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, Mongolia, Central Asia, and Africa, among others, as well as the worldwide Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

What does this mean for us right now? The map below shows the results of the historic vote at the UN in October, 2016, that set the stage for the 2017 negotiations on a global nuclear weapons ban.

Vote on resolution to negotiate a ban on nuclear weapons in 2017 (L-41)
Green - Yes (123, 76%)
Red - No (38, 24%)
Beige - Abstained
(Via @ILPIwmd)

The vote was 123 in favor (green on the map above) and 38 opposed (red). And so the negotiations will proceed.

Let's consider the role of Mexico: virtually all of Latin America and the Caribbean is green on the map above, indicating that all those countries voted in favor of going forward with negotiations on a ban.

Now let's consider the role of the US. The US is red, because it voted against the negotiations on a ban. Moreover, Canada is red. Australia is red. Most of Europe is red. To a very large extent, that can be attributed to US pressure on all those countries to vote against the ban negotiations. (Thankfully, within Europe a few very strong proponents of nuclear disarmament -- particularly Austria -- led the way on the campaign for ban negotiations. And now, one by one, others of those countries are coming to their senses and saying that they will participate in the negotiations.)

So: thank you MEXICO (and the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean) for a wonderful Valentine's Day gift to the world. Let's hope this gift reaches its fully fruition with the 2017 nuclear weapons ban negotiations!

Want to know more?

 . . . Frequent updates from the treaty organization @OPANAL on Twitter.
 . . . Get involved in the 2017 nuclear weapons ban movement:
 . . . related post: Network Power and the Movement to Ban Nuclear Weapons.

You can help spread the word by sharing the poster below -- and all the Tlatelolco 50 posters on flickr.

"nuclear ... NO ahora, no nunca"
Poster by Nancy Camargo (Mexico) commemorating
the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Tlatelolco.
(Please share on Twitter.)

PS - added February 16, 2017: Preparatory meetings for the UN conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination, commence today. Here is a picture of the president of the conference:

Elayne Whyte Gomez, Costa Rica, President
Preparatory meetings for the UN conference to negotiate a legally binding
instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination

A new day is dawning . . . .(See: Who would possibly vote "NO" to banning nuclear weapons??? )

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