On January 22, the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons entered into force after ratification by 53 nations and with the support of 599 peace organizations, including the Green Party of the United States.

According to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), prior to the implementation of the treaty, nuclear weapons were the only weapons of mass destruction that were not subject to a comprehensive ban, despite their “catastrophic, widespread and persistent humanitarian and environmental consequences” (ICAN).

The Treaty has rendered it illegal for any nation to “develop, test, manufacture, transfer, possess, stockpile, use or threaten to use” nuclear weapons, or station nuclear weapons on their territory. It also prohibits nations from assisting or encouraging anyone from engaging in these activities.

In a recent press release expressing their support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), the Green Party of the United States claims that voting Green means voting for peace initiatives that offer a way out of the “march toward nuclear doomsday.”

On the 75th anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, U.S. Green Party Leader, Howie Hawkins, wrote, “Very few Americans know about [the TPNW] because none of the leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties and none of their presidential or senatorial candidates are addressing this crisis.”

“Now would be an opportune moment for a major party presidential or US Senate candidate to make the new nuclear arms race a top campaign issue. Instead we hear nothing.”

Howie Hawkins, Leader of the Green Party of the United States

Currently, there are 13 400 nuclear warheads threatening the world’s population, and 5800 of those are possessed by the United States. Furthermore, the U.S. is the only country to have used nuclear weapons in war. In the final days of World War II, Hawkins writes, the United States detonated two atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing “more than 200 000 people.”

In the following years, thousands of civilians died from illnesses caused by exposure to radiation from the bombs.

Since then, Japan has been warning the world that nuclear weapons and the human race are on a collision course. Nevertheless, Hawkins asserts that both the Republican and Democratic parties support “astronomical” military budgets and the advancement of “dangerous and morally questionable” military capabilities.

In 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama began a $1.2 trillion rebuild of the Pentagon’s nuclear arsenal. U.S. President Donald Trump submitted a 2021 budget request for nuclear weapons totalling $44.5 billion.

According to Hawkins, there can be no peace with this “nuclear sword” hanging over the world and its citizens.

Ryan Swan, the California Representative on the Peace Action Committee of the Green Party, wrote on the development of the TPNW. In 2017, more than 120 countries came together in the UN to reject a “continual life under the nuclear shadow”, Swan writes. Tired of the status quo, they drew up the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The Treaty’s rationale was simple:

“The common interest of mankind in avoiding the calamitous consequences of nuclear weapons outweighs any strategic benefits such weapons confer upon specific states.”

– Ryan Swan, California Representative on the Peace Action Committee of the Green Party of the United States

Since demilitarization and the dismantling of nuclear weapons has been a long-standing issue for the Green Party of the U.S., the Greens have been calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons through legislative and diplomatic means.

Chris Robinson, a Green Party member in Philadelphia, said, “I am so glad that [the TPNW] will finally go into force. I became an activist for peace during the 1960s when I refused to participate in the nuclear bomb drills held in Philadelphia’s public schools. As soon as I learned about a new peace party being formed, I joined the Green Party because of its anti-militarism platform.”

In response to the inauguration of Biden and the activation of the Treaty, Justin Bell, a member of the City Committee of the Green Party of Philadelphia, said: “Greens of Philadelphia, even though Trump is out, we know there is no time for rest. A Democratic war hawk and a Republican war hawk are all the same to us. Joe Biden was a leader in the push for the war in Iraq. The time is now to create a movement across the globe that is anti-nuclear weaponry.”

In particular, the Green Party of the United States has proposed a set of peace initiatives as a way out of this life-or-death crisis. These proposals for the U.S. include:

  • Cutting military spending by at least 50%
  • Withdrawing from its endless, illegal wars abroad
  • Pledging “no first use” of nuclear weapons
  • Disarming to a minimum credible deterrent

According to Swan, all of these steps are actively opposed by both the Republicans and Democrats.

The Green Party, in their platform, maintain that not only has the U.S. nuclear weapons programs consumed “vast resources, generated toxic pollution, and spread global fear of apocalyptic destruction”, but the Trump administration sought to restart the nuclear arms race.

“The large stockpiles of these weapons, and their proliferation into a growing number of nations, pose a clear and present danger to humankind.”

– Ryan Swan, California Representative on the Peace Action Committee of the Green Party of the United States

Voting for the lesser evils among the Democratic and Republican candidates is still voting for the “nuclear arms race and endless wars”, says Hawkins.

Therefore, the Greens encourage those interested in peace, as well as “real democracy, sustainable environmental policy, social and economic justice, racial and gender equality, election and campaign finance reform,” to support the national Green Party platform.

Margaret Saville

Margaret Saville studies psychology and political science at McGill University in Montreal, and would like to pursue political journalism. She was born in Toronto, Ontario and grew up in Nelson, British Columbia. Her passions include environmentalism, literature and writing, and down-hill skiing. Margaret is committed to addressing social issues such as the climate change crisis, racial and gender inequality, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, LGBTQ+ rights, and advocating for mental health awareness.

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