A treaty that bans nuclear weapons was adopted by 122 countries at the UN on Friday, but countries with nuclear arsenals are boycotting the pact.
The treaty obliges countries not to develop, test, produce or possess nuclear arms, or to acquire them by other means – “never under any circumstances.”
The significance of the pact was drawn into question by the absence of the nine countries with existing or nascent arsenals: the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea.
Germany and other members of NATO also stayed away from the negotiations because nuclear deterrence is a cornerstone of the military alliance.
Countries such as Austria, Norway, Mexico, South Africa and Brazil had pushed for the treaty, arguing that there had been little progress in disarmament in recent years.
However, the pact could put pressure on the nuclear powers to reduce their stockpiles.
In Geneva, Red Cross chief Peter Maurer hailed the treaty as a “victory for our shared humanity.”
“Today, the world has taken an historic step towards de-legitimising these indiscriminate and inhumane weapons, which is a crucial basis for their future elimination,’’ Maurer said. (dpa/NAN)