NZ plays key role in nuclear ban treaty

New Zealand has played a key role in building support for a global nuclear ban treaty that has just been agreed, peace activists say.

New Zealand and more than 120 other states voted in favour of the final text of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on Friday night during the final session of the UN Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons in New York.

New Zealand was a vice president of the UN conference and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade worked over the past five years on the initiative to ban nuclear weapons.

"Its potential to end the threat of nuclear destruction is a gift for future generations," Peace Movement Aotearoa says.

However, Foreign Affairs Minister Gerry Brownlee says none of the sates that took part in the negotiations actually possess nuclear weapons.

"We need to be realistic about the prospects of this treaty leading to a reduction in nuclear weapons in the short term. However, the treaty is an important step towards a world free of nuclear weapons, which has been a long-held goal for New Zealand."

The treaty bans the development, testing, production, manufacture, possession, transfer, use or threat of use, deployment, installation or stationing of nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices.

Nuclear-armed states have a "clear pathway" to join the treaty as well, and destroy their nuclear weapons in a time-bound, verifiable and irreversible manner.

"Some countries like New Zealand have already enacted a national ban on nuclear weapons. This treaty now provides the first legal prohibition on nuclear weapons at a global level," Mr Brownlee said.

New Zealand is expected to be one of the first states to sign and ratify the treaty when it opens for signature on September 20.