Three years

Three years. A lot can change in three years, but a lot can also stay the same. Imagine what three years really means.

When we’re born, three years is an eternity. A child learns to walk, to talk, to feed themselves (though not always without creating a mess). Three years is old enough to know that when you play with fire, you get burned. Three years is enough time to know who and what is most important. Whether that be a caregiver, a fluffy object, or the calm sense of peace that sweeps them gently into dreamland.

It was three years ago that an overwhelming majority of UN members voted to adopt the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The TPNW (or ban treaty) has helped the world think differently about nuclear weapons. It represents a shift from the protections under super-power shadows, to the fraught reality that no one is coming.

In three years, 38 countries have shown courageous leadership by making the ban treaty national law. They’ve sent their instruments of ratification to the UN Secretary General, and they’ve agree they will never play with this type of fire. They know our collective security is dependant on rational actions and rooted in a legal structure that benefits everyone, equally.

But, when you are fifty, like the nuclear non proliferation treaty (NPT), three years goes past in the blink of an eye. And for some members of that treaty, they’ve managed to regressed these last three years. Acting more like irrational toddlers than responsible states. They deploy new types of nuclear weapons. They go willingly into a new arms race. They blindly support the dismantling of the global arms control architecture. They blame others for their actions, just like a recalcitrant toddler.

The handful of nuclear armed and nuclear weapon supporter countries suggest that three years won’t be enough for them to join the masses in rejecting inherently inhumane weapons through the ban treaty, but give them time. They also know that the only way to protect themselves from nuclear weapons is to eliminate nuclear weapons completely. They know that accidents happen, and that the risks are increasing to dangerous levels. They’ve been stuck in the same circular rut for decades, and it just takes time until they nudge out of the loop and start moving forwards again.

Three years ago a new treaty was born. Since then, it’s grown and it will continue to grow- to entry-into-force and to the end of nuclear weapons. This young instrument of global security is changing the world, happy birthday ban treaty!