UNITED NATIONS (AFP) -- An international treaty banning nuclear weapons has been ratified by a 50th country, the UN said Saturday, allowing the "historic” text to enter into force after 90 days.
While nuclear powers have not signed up to the treaty, activists who have pushed for its enactment hold out hope that it will nonetheless prove to be more than symbolic and have a gradual deterrent effect.
Honduras became the 50th country to ratify.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called it "the culmination of a worldwide movement to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons,” according to a statement from his spokesman.
"It represents a meaningful commitment towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons, which remains the highest disarmament priority of the United Nations.”
NGOs also welcomed the news, including the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a coalition that won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its key role in bringing the treaty to fruition.
"Honduras just ratified the Treaty as the 50th state, triggering entry into force and making history,” ICAN said in a tweet.
Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said in a statement: "Today is a victory for humanity, and a promise of a safer future.”
The 75th anniversary of the nuclear attacks on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, marked in August, saw a wave of countries ratify the treaty.
They have included Nigeria, Malaysia, Ireland, Malta and Tuvalu.
Thailand, Mexico, South Africa, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Vietnam and the Vatican are among the countries that had already ratified it.
It is now to enter into force on January 22, 2021, the UN said.
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons -- which bans the use, development, production, testing, stationing, stockpiling and threat of use of such weapons -- was adopted by the UN General Assembly in July 2017 with the approval of 122 countries.
Eighty-four states have since signed it, though not all have ratified the text.
The clutch of nuclear-armed states, including the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia, have not signed the treaty.
However, campaigners hope that it coming into force will have the same impact as previous international treaties on landmines and cluster munitions, bringing a stigma to their stockpiling and use, and thereby a change in behavior even in countries that did not sign up.
ICAN said in a statement that it expects "companies to stop producing nuclear weapons and financial institutions to stop investing in nuclear weapon producing companies.”