UN Disarmament Working Group Calls for 2017 Negotiations to Ban Nuclear Weapons

In Democracy, Environment, Human rights, Justice, Nonviolence, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace on August 21, 2016 at 6:53 am

August 19, 2016

Geneva – A few minutes ago a special UN working group involving most of the world’s countries concluded its work with the recommendation that negotiations begin in 2017 toward a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons.

Of the countries present today, 68 voted in favor of the final report, 22 against, with 13 abstentions. The final report language and roll call of votes are not available yet.

One hundred and seven countries attending the working group at one time or another since February have variously stated their support for starting ban negotiations as soon as possible.

The United States did not attend the meeting. U.S. nuclear allies did however attend, and over months several of these states led what turned out to be an unsuccessful effort to block progress.

States which have pledged to support negotiations that would ban nuclear weapons now number 127, a strong UN majority which augurs well for success of pro-ban states this fall in the General Assembly.

Today’s press release of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a network of 440 organizations in 93 countries, follows. Further details will no doubt be available in the coming hours.

Majority of UN members declare intention to negotiate ban on nuclear weapons in 2017

United Nations disarmament talks concluded in Geneva today with the overwhelming majority of nations signaling their intention to launch negotiations in 2017 for a global ban on nuclear weapons.

One hundred and seven nations in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and the Pacific, together with several in Europe, united behind a proposal to convene a conference next year to outlaw nuclear weapons.

A small handful of nations argued that nuclear weapons are essential for their security and therefore should not be prohibited. However, these opponents failed to block the majority and prevent negotiations from proceeding.

The Geneva talks began in February and continued in May and August as part of a special UN working group established last year to advance nuclear disarmament negotiations, which have long been stalled at the UN.

The group today adopted its final report by vote. The report recommends that a conference be held next year to negotiate “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”.

Nuclear weapons remain the only weapons of mass destruction not yet prohibited under international law, despite their inhumane and indiscriminate nature. The proposed ban would address this legal anomaly.

“There can be no doubt that a majority of UN members intend to pursue negotiations next year on a treaty banning nuclear weapons,” said Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

“This is a significant moment in the seven-decade-long global struggle to rid the world of the worst weapons of mass destruction,” she said. “The UN working group achieved a breakthrough today.”

“We expect that, based on the recommendations of the working group, the UN General Assembly will adopt a resolution this autumn to establish the mandate for negotiations on a ban on nuclear weapons in 2017.”

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