Historic vote to ban nuclear weapons in 2017
On final day of the open-ended working on nuclear disarmament (OEWG) in Geneva, states adopted a clear recommendation for the commencement of negotiations in 2017 on a legally-binding instrument to ban nuclear weapons, leading to their elimination. The report under consideration was adopted by a vote of 68 to 22, with 9 abstentions, though the recommendation to ban nuclear weapons was supported by at least 107 states during the OEWG session.
This is a historic moment, the “most significant contribution to nuclear disarmament in two decades,” as Mexico said during its closing remarks. For 71 years the majority of countries have experienced the injustice and insecurity that nuclear weapons represent. Together with civil society from around the world, they have demanded nuclear disarmament only to be frustrated by deadlock and hypocrisy. They have worked with nuclear-armed states and others that believe in the “value” of these weapons to reach agreements and establish commitments and processes that should lead to disarmament, only to see repeated failures to implement obligations and even steps backwards, made through increased investments in the modernisation of nuclear weapons.
The scene looks different now. The collective opposition to the current state of affairs has found a united voice and a pathway to action. The battle is far from over—we anticipate that some states will continue to try to thwart progress at this year’s First Committee, and that achieving the elimination of nuclear weapons will take more than a prohibition treaty on its own. But we are as close as we have ever been to launching a concerted, credible challenge to nuclear weapons and we have the momentum and the moral authority to succeed.