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

August 19, 2016

MEDIA RELEASE

United Nations disarmament talks concluded in Geneva today with the overwhelming majority of nations signalling 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.”



  • 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 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