I am pleased to have the opportunity to address the House on the Bill and I thank Senators for their consideration of it. The purpose of the Bill is to enable Ireland to become a state party to the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, TPNW. It will put in place the necessary legislation to allow Ireland to ratify this historic treaty.
The treaty is the outcome of a two-year process led by states and civil society concerned at the increasing risks and catastrophic consequences of a nuclear weapons explosion as well as by lack of progress by the nuclear weapons states on the disarmament provisions of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, NPT.
Ireland has a long history of leadership in nuclear disarmament, and in particular played a leading role in the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which is the cornerstone of the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime. The TPNW of 2017 is fully complementary to that treaty and continues a long Irish tradition of nuclear diplomacy. Ireland is closely linked with the TPNW and took a leading role in the adoption process as a member of the core group of states, along with Austria, Brazil, Mexico, Nigeria, and South Africa.
The treaty was opened for signature at the UN in New York on 20 of September 2017. The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Coveney, signed the treaty on behalf of Ireland on the first day it opened for signature. As of today, the treaty has received 80 signatures, including 34 ratifications. The TPNW requires 50 ratifications to enter into force. I hope that the passage of this legislation will allow Ireland to ratify the treaty at the earliest possible opportunity.
The TPNW provides for states to fulfil their disarmament obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and affirm their commitment to achieving a world free from nuclear weapons. The TPNW plugs a legal gap by prohibiting the last form of weapon of mass destruction that had not been explicitly outlawed. Ireland's long-standing commitment to international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation stems from our collective concern about the immense human suffering and environmental degradation, which would arise from the detonation of a nuclear weapon, whether by accident, miscalculation or design, anywhere on the planet. The only guarantee of protection from nuclear weapons use is their complete elimination. The ratification of the TPNW is an important step towards the realisation of this important objective.
This is an historic treaty, which prohibits the last form of weapon of mass destruction not explicitly banned under international law. In this regard, the TPNW gives the NPT some much needed impetus on disarmament. It is the first new legal multilateral instrument on nuclear disarmament to be adopted in more than 20 years.
The treaty establishes a comprehensive set of prohibitions on nuclear weapons activities. These include undertakings not to develop, test, produce, acquire, possess, stockpile, use or threaten to use nuclear weapons. The TPNW also prohibits the stationing, installation or deployment of nuclear weapons on national territory.
In addition to these core prohibitions that implement the disarmament pillar of the NPT, the TPNW includes a number of ground-breaking provisions. The treaty obliges states parties to assist survivors of nuclear weapons testing or use in areas under their jurisdiction, and to undertake necessary environmental remediation in areas under their control. The treaty is the first international legal instrument to recognise the disproportionate impact on the health of women and girls of ionising radiation from nuclear weapons use. The treaty also promotes the equal participation in the treaty's work by women and men and includes a provision on disarmament education. Ireland was a strong advocate for these provisions during the treaty negotiations, in line with our consistent support for gender mainstreaming in disarmament negotiations and policies. These provisions, which emphasise the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, respect for human rights and the promotion of civil society voices, reflect the breadth of participation in the negotiations. In particular, the drafting process benefitted from hearing the crucial testimony from survivors of nuclear weapons testing and use.
I acknowledge that the treaty is not universally accepted in nuclear weapons states and many of their military allies chose not to participate in the negotiations. This was regrettable and Ireland consistently called on them to join the negotiations and to participate in good faith. Ireland does not agree with their view that nuclear disarmament must wait until an ideal security environment is reached. Rather, Ireland believes the retention of nuclear weapons, and in particular the threat of a renewed arms race, is itself a driver of insecurity and risk, while nuclear disarmament enables greater security for all. Ireland is particularly concerned by the fact that the norm against the threat of use of nuclear weapons has been seriously eroded in recent times, and by the prospect of a new nuclear arms race.
In our view and that of the core group of states, the TPNW represents the best hope in decades for multilateral progress on nuclear disarmament. Not only does it provide a framework for disarmament, but it also stigmatises and delegitimises nuclear weapons and, as such, may strengthen calls for disarmament in those countries that possess nuclear weapons.
The core provisions of the TPNW follow the model of other similar legislation prohibiting certain weapons in Irish law. The Bill recently passed through the Dáil, where I am pleased that it received all-party support on all Stages, illustrating the deep concern of the Irish people about the devastating consequences of the detonation of a nuclear weapon anywhere on the planet.
The ratification of the TPNW by Ireland would be in line with our firmly established foreign policy priority on nuclear disarmament and our international position promoting multilateral nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. I, therefore, ask all Senators to support this Bill and give effect to our shared commitment to achieve the goal of completely eliminating nuclear weapons from our world.