A majority of United Nations member states have decided to start discussions and negotiations on a treaty outlawing nuclear weapons in UN General Assembly. It has now become a joint effort to get rid off all nuclear weapons. The negotiations will begin at the UN headquarters in New York in March.
“The historic decision is a vote for common sense and humanity. It brings us a step closer to a world free from the horrors of nuclear weapons, the most destructive and indiscriminate weapons ever created. This vote shows that a majority of states consider a global prohibition on nuclear weapons to be the best option for protecting the world from their catastrophic effects” says Patrick Wilcken, Researcher on Arms Control, Security, Trade and Human Rights at Amnesty International, as reported by Amnesty International.
123 votes were in favour of starting negotiations, while 38 votes were against it and 16 were in the abstentions. The nine votes against a treaty outlawing nuclear weapons were from nuclear-armed nations. Amongst 38 votes against the resolution, four were the members of the Permanent Five (P5) of the UN Security Council. France, Russia, USA, UK and China are member of P5 and all of them possess nuclear weapons.
Netherlands abstained to vote for the resolution. 38 nations have voted in favour of the resolution, and these votes are a major victory for the International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the global coalition in which PAX plays a leading role. PAX has worked for years towards this moment.
As reported by No Nukes, PAX general director Jan Gruiters says, “This is a momentous breakthrough. A nuclear weapons ban brings us a large step closer to a nuclear weapons free world. Negotiations on a treaty to ban the most dangerous weapons of mass destruction ever invented is fantastic news.”
He further explains,“So far, the nuclear-armed countries have shirked their responsibility when it comes to nuclear disarmament. Even today, more than 70 years later, survivors of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and their children and grandchildren suffer from the terrible effects of nuclear weapons. So do those in areas where nuclear weapons have been tested. At the same time, more and more threats are being made to use nuclear weapons. A global, legally binding instrument banning nuclear weapons raises the threshold for using these weapons.”
Nuclear weapons are the weapons of mass destruction and are yet to be banned. The resolution paves the way for a March 2017 UN conference to negotiate a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”.