Geneva (ICAN)* – On 7 December 2015, governments adopted at the United Nations General Assembly in New York a resolution that will convene talks in Geneva in 2016 to develop new law on nuclear weapons.
The resolution presented by Mexico received the support of two-thirds of the governments of the world and is a response to the growing demand for a treaty banning nuclear weapons.
Following the failure of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in May 2015, the desire for launching a new process on nuclear disarmament has grown significantly.
121 governments have signed the “Humanitarian Pledge”: a commitment to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons. The talks in Geneva will be an opportunity to start working on the elements of a new prohibition treaty.
“A ban on nuclear weapons is in the making. The talks in Geneva is the perfect opportunity to work on the elements and scope of the treaty,” says Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of ICAN.
The nuclear-armed states strongly opposed this resolution and exerted pressure on allies and other governments to prevent these talks from happening. In a tweet the United States Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament, Robert Wood, called the resolution unacceptable and said its aim is “to subvert established disarmament machinery. It will not succeed”.
Notwithstanding the opposition of nuclear-armed states and the US Ambassador‘s predictions, the resolution passed with 138 votes in favor. The working group is expected to start early 2016 in Geneva, Switzerland.
The misuse of the consensus rule has contributed to the deadlock of the Conference on Disarmament and the collapse of the 2015 NPT Review Conference.
This new working group will not be bound by strict consensus rules, which means that nuclear weapon states and their allies will not be able to veto any concrete outcome.
This development is a result of the three successful conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons held in Oslo, Nayarit, and Vienna in 2013 and 2014. The evidence presented at these conferences builds the case for prohibiting nuclear weapons even if the nuclear-armed states do not participate.
“Nuclear weapons are unacceptable on humanitarian grounds. All governments should participate constructively in this process to prohibit them” says Beatrice Fihn.
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is a coalition of more than 400 non-governmental organisations in 95 countries. We are calling on governments to launch negotiations in 2015 on a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons, which would place them on the same legal footing as chemical and biological weapons and help pave the way to their complete elimination.
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