UN to vote on talks for a Nuclear Ban Treaty

40d91e20-6089-44af-a77d-752721bd00c8By Roslyn Cook

107 states have recommended that negotiations to ban nuclear weapons start in 2017.  On 19th August this news was published in the report of outcomes from the Open Ended Working Group that has been meeting this year in Geneva. It is also clearly the result of a new global discourse  concerning nuclear weapons.

Mexico’s ambassador has pronounced it the most significant contribution to nuclear disarmament in over two decades while the  International Committee of the Red Cross recognizes this as an historic moment.  On the UN  International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons the ICRC has called on all governments to support the negotiations for a treaty to abolish them as a humanitarian imperative.

Last month in Geneva there were desperate last minute attempts to derail the potential ban treaty. These were reported in the Guardian newspaper, which nevertheless concluded that “the next step will be for the proposal for negotiations to begin in 2017 to be tabled at the United Nations general assembly, after which it is likely formal negotiations will begin.”

Since then Austria’s foreign minister Sebastian Kurz has announced that Austria will table a resolution at the UN this October together with other UN states to convene the proposed negotiations, stating that  “experience shows that the first step to eliminate weapons of mass destruction is to prohibit them through legally binding norms”.

Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, claims that “the resolution will be of enormous historical importance.”

Now is the time to urge all governments to join these negotiations, most especially those such as the UK, the US and their allies who continue to boycott this process despite their rhetoric in favour of a world without nuclear weapons.

As Hiroshima survivor Setsuko Thurlow recently wrote in her letter to President Obama:

“we have a moral imperative to abolish nuclear arsenals, in order to ensure a safe and just world for future generations.  As you said in Hiroshima, “we must have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without them.”

Why then, with all due respect to you Mr. President, is the US government boycotting the United Nations disarmament negotiations born of the Humanitarian Initiative, the most significant advance for nuclear disarmament in a generation?”

To find out what you can do to support the humanitarian initiative to ban nuclear weapons please go to the ICAN website.

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