Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message to the opening of the first Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, in Vienna today:
Nuclear weapons are a global scourge. A deadly reminder of countries’ inability to solve problems through dialogue and collaboration. These weapons offer false promises of security and deterrence — while guaranteeing only destruction, death and endless brinksmanship.
Today, the terrifying lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are fading from memory. The once‑unthinkable prospect of nuclear conflict is now back within the realm of possibility. More than 13,000 nuclear weapons are being held in arsenals across the globe. In a world rife with geopolitical tensions and mistrust, this is a recipe for annihilation.
We cannot allow the nuclear weapons wielded by a handful of States to jeopardize all life on our planet. We must stop knocking at doomsday’s door. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is an important step towards the common aspiration of a world without nuclear weapons.
Your gathering this week brings together Governments, but also civil society groups and other observers. This wide participation reflects a central truth — disarmament is everybody’s business, because life itself is everybody’s business.
The decisions you make at this meeting will help cement the Treaty’s position as an essential element of the global disarmament and non-proliferation architecture. And it will hopefully convince more countries to get on board.
It is only by joining in solidarity that we can eliminate this scourge and get back to the business of building a better, more peaceful and trusting world for all. Let’s eliminate these weapons before they eliminate us.