First committee of the UN General Assembly votes for a resolution mandating negotiations on a ban on Nuclear Proliferation
On Wednesday October 26th, during its 71st session, members of the first committee of the UN general assembly voted for a resolution mandating negotiations for a ban on nuclear proliferation. 123 nations voted in favour, setting the course for negotiations to begin in 2017.
The vote represents a landmark decision that sets the UN on the path towards making the possession of nuclear weapons illegal. Whilst the majority of the world’s nations now support the start of negotiations, the UK, Russia, USA, China, France and a small number of other nations have attempted to block these developments.
Under Article VI of the NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty), the UK is legally obliged “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament”. However, the UK government is currently choosing to replace and upgrade its nuclear arsenal, thus losing its claim to be pursuing non-proliferation and disarmament in good faith.
Speaking after the vote, Medact Director Dr David McCoy said: “There is still a long way to actually making the world safe from the accidental or deliberate use of nuclear weapons, but this decision marks an important and renewed commitment to disarmament at the UN level. It is shameful that the UK government is currently not even prepared to attend the forthcoming UN negotiations.”
Medact is a public health charity and the UK affiliate of the 1985 Nobel Peace Laureate, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW).