Support for a conference in 2017 to negotiate a treaty banning nuclear weapons

August 25, 2016

During the final session of the UN working group on nuclear disarmament in Geneva this month, the following 107 nations expressed support for the convening of a conference in 2017 to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination. This proposal formed the key recommendation in the working group’s report, adopted on 19 August with overwhelming support.

 

African nations (all 54)

“The African group strongly supports the convening by the United Nations General Assembly of a conference for the negotiations of a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons in 2017, leading towards their total elimination.”
 

Latin American and Caribbean nations (all 33)

“We have noted the majority support that has been expressed for the UN General Assembly to convene a conference in 2017, which would be open to all states, international organizations and civil society, in order to negotiate a legally binding instrument that prohibits nuclear weapons, with a view to their total elimination. In this regard, for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, it is of prime importance that, in the conclusions and recommendations agreed upon and passed on to the General Assembly, we include clearly such a recommendation.” 
 

Southeast Asian nations (all 10)

“ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] would like to express our strong support to the call of convening by the General Assembly of a conference in 2017, open to all states, international organizations and civil society, to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.”
 

Austria and Liechtenstein

the majority of countries supported the convening by the General Assembly of a conference in 2017, open to all states, international organizations and civil society, to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination … I want to declare the full support of these two countries for this formulation. We share this objective.”
 

Fiji, Nauru, Palau and Samoa

“We support the culmination of negotiations at the 2017 General Assembly, open to all states, international organizations and civil society, to result in a legally binding instrument prohibiting nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.”
 

Ireland

“Ireland is among the group of 127 states which supports the urgent pursuit of an additional legal instrument. Therefore, I would like to reconfirm that Ireland supports the draft recommendation on the opening of negotiations on such an instrument, and we agree with all of those who have said that this is clearly a majority view.”
 

Malta

“The convening by the General Assembly of a conference in 2017, open to all states, international organizations and civil society, to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination, would be a strong signal of our joint resolve to make concrete progress in this regard.”
 

New Zealand

“[The draft report] references the initiation of negotiations at a conference in 2017, and gives the General Assembly as its venue. But I understand, Mr Chair, that there are some who are keen to contest whether this viewpoint … is indeed the majority view. [New Zealand believes that it is the majority view, and New Zealand counts itself as part of the majority.]”
 

Sri Lanka

“We would like to affirm Sri Lanka’s support for a proposal of convening a conference in 2017 to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.” 
 

Vote on the report

In the closing session of the working group on 19 August, nations voted on whether to adopt the report. No official record was taken of which nations voted yes or no, and which abstained. The UN did not record the voting pattern, only the number of yes, no, and abstention votes. However, below is an unofficial list compiled by ICAN of how governments voted.

Prior to voting on the report as a whole, nations voted on a proposal to strengthen the key paragraph of the report relating to the negotiating conference in 2017. That amendment was successful.

Yes (68)

Algeria, Argentina, Austria, Bahamas, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Burundi, Chile, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Fiji, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Laos, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Myanmar, Namibia, Nigeria, Oman, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Zambia, Zimbabwe

 

No (22)

Albania, Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey 

 

Abstain (13)

Armenia, Finland, Georgia, Iceland, Japan, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Portugal, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine
 

Excerpts from the OEWG report

(Full report can be downloaded here)

Key recommendation:

67. The working group recommended with widespread support for the General Assembly to convene a conference in 2017, open to all states, with the participation and contribution of international organizations and civil society, to negotiate a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination …
 

Support for a ban treaty:

34. A majority of states expressed support for the commencement of negotiations in the General Assembly in 2017, open to all states, international organizations and civil society, on a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination, which would establish general prohibitions and obligations as well as political commitment to achieve and maintain a nuclear-weapon-free world. Representatives of civil society supported this view.
 

Description of a ban treaty:

35. Possible elements of such an instrument could include, inter alia, the following: (a) prohibitions on the acquisition, possession, stockpiling, development, testing and production of nuclear weapons; (b) prohibitions on participating in any use of nuclear weapons, including through participating in nuclear war planning, participating in the targeting of nuclear weapons and training personnel to take control of nuclear weapons; (c) prohibitions on permitting nuclear weapons in national territory, including on permitting vessels with nuclear weapons in ports and territorial seas, permitting aircraft with nuclear weapons from being entering national airspace, permitting nuclear weapons from being transited through national territory, permitting nuclear weapons from being stationed or deployed on national territory; (d) prohibitions on financing nuclear weapon activities or on providing special fissionable material to any states that do not apply IAEA comprehensive safeguards; (e) prohibitions on assisting, encouraging or inducing, directly or indirectly, any activity prohibited by the treaty; and (f) recognition of the rights of victims of the use and testing of nuclear weapons and a commitment to provide assistance to victims and to environmental remediation. It was noted that the elements and provisions to be included in such an instrument would be subject to its negotiation.
 
36. A legally-binding instrument prohibiting nuclear weapons would be an interim or partial step toward nuclear disarmament as it would not include measures for elimination and would instead leave measures for the irreversible, verifiable and transparent destruction of nuclear weapons as a matter for future negotiations. It would also contribute to the progressive stigmatization of nuclear weapons. States supporting such an instrument considered it to be the most viable option for immediate action as it would not need universal support for the commencement of negotiations or for its entry into force. It was suggested that the United Nations high-level international conference, to convene no later than 2018 pursuant to resolution 68/32, should review progress of these negotiations.



  • aiweiwei

    “Let’s 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