Can a treaty banning nuclear weapons speed their abolition?

Over the objections of most nuclear-armed nations, a UN committee on disarmament and security resoundingly approved a resolution last October mandating negotiations toward a treaty that outlaws nuclear weapons. Talks are set to begin in March; there could be a ban treaty with dozens of state signatures by the end of 2017.

Outright prohibition of nuclear weapons would contrast starkly with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which allows five countries to retain nuclear weapons for an unspecified time—as they "pursue negotiations in good faith… on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control."

What should a ban treaty entail, and could it truly succeed in speeding the disarmament process? Our newest roundtable argues these questions.

Round One:
The ban treaty: An interim step, but politically profound, by Joelien Pretorius

Assessing the ban treaty from Ukraine, by Polina Sinovets
To abolish nuclear weapons, strip away their handsome mask, by Mustafa Kibaroglu

Round Two:
Succeed or fail, the ban treaty won't erode the NPT, by Joelien Pretorius
Arms control is realistic; general disarmament probably isn't, by Polina Sinovets
Reality: Humanity can't indefinitely avoid using nuclear weapons, by Mustafa Kibaroglu

Round Three:
How I learned to hate the Bomb, by Joelien Pretorius
Better to bear the ills we have, by
Polina Sinovets
Disarmament while the change remains, by Mustafa Kibaroglu

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Further reading:
Does the fight over a nuclear weapons ban threaten global stability? by Heather Williams
The terrifying geography of nuclear and radiological insecurity in South Asia, by Hannah E. Haegeland and Reema Verma
Reconsidering the reversal: South Korea's nuclear choices, by William Caplan and Kenneth B. Turner
Nuclear Roundup, by Jodi Lieberman. Sign up for a daily compilation of quality nuclear policy news published on the Web, around the world.