ICAN briefing to UN press corps on draft resolution to ban nuclear weapons in 2017

October 14, 2016

On Thursday, 13 October, a cross-regional group of nations formally submitted a draft resolution to the First Committee of the UN General Assembly to establish a mandate for negotiations in 2017 on a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”.

The resolution acts on a recommendation made in August by a UN open-ended working group on nuclear disarmament in Geneva. More than 100 nations participated in the working group, with an overwhelming majority expressing their support for the prohibition of nuclear weapons as a first step towards elimination.

Co-sponsors of the resolution include Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, Nigeria and South Africa. We expect that it will be adopted with strong support, on a date between 26 October and 2 November.

The resolution proposes two negotiating conferences to be held over 20 days in March, June and July 2017, at the UN Headquarters in New York. All UN member states, along with international organizations and members of civil society, will be invited to participate. The negotiations could continue into 2018.

A treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons would close the “legal gap” in the existing regime governing nuclear weapons. It is an anomaly that these are the only weapons of mass destruction not yet prohibited under international law in a comprehensive and universal manner.

Chemical weapons, biological weapons, anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions are all expressly prohibited. Most nations agree the prohibition of nuclear weapons is the only appropriate course of action in light of the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of their use.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is a global coalition of more than 400 non-governmental organizations in 100 nations, working to establish a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons. It was launched in 2007 and has its headquarters in Geneva.

  • aiweiwei

    “Let’s act up! Ban nuclear weapons completely and unconditionally.”

    Ai Weiwei Artist and activist

  • sheen

    “If Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr were alive today, they would be part of ICAN.”

    Martin Sheen Actor and activist

  • bankimoon

    “I salute ICAN for working with such commitment and creativity.”

    Ban Ki-moon Former UN chief

  • yokoono

    “We can do it together. With your help, our voice will be made still stronger. Imagine peace.”

    Yoko Ono Artist

  • jodywilliams

    “Governments say a nuclear weapons ban is unlikely. Don’t believe it. They said the same about a mine ban treaty.”

    Jody Williams Nobel laureate

  • desmondtutu

    “With your support, we can take ICAN its full distance – all the way to zero nuclear weapons.”

    Desmond Tutu Nobel laureate

  • herbiehancock

    “Because I cannot tolerate these appalling weapons, I whole-heartedly support ICAN.”

    Herbie Hancock Jazz musician

  • dalailama

    “I can imagine a world without nuclear weapons, and I support ICAN.”

    Dalai Lama Nobel laureate