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.
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
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.