35 states call for nuclear weapons ban

On 22 October, 35 states delivered a joint statement to the General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security highlighting the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and calling on all states to intensify their efforts to ban these weapons. The joint statement gathered twice as much support as a similar statement delivered at the NPT Preparatory Committee in Vienna in May 2012 on behalf of 16 states.

The statement argued that as long as nuclear weapons continue to exist they will threaten the survival of humanity. Furthermore, the perceived political value and prestige attached by some states to these weapons encourages proliferation. The 35 governments issued concern that “the threat of nuclear annihilation remains part of the 21st century international security environment” and called on all states to “intensify their efforts to outlaw nuclear weapons and achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.”

They also expressed concern with nuclear explosions’ “immense humanitarian consequences,” both immediate and long-term, reaching beyond direct fatalities to adverse effects on populations, agriculture, natural resources, climate, and possibly future generations. Also recorded is the inability to provide emergency relief. Those matters will be the subject of a conference to be held in Oslo by the Norwegian government in March 2013, as Norway's Ambassador Geir Pedersen noted on 12 October.

For more analysis of the statement, see an article by John Burroughs, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, in the fourth edition of the First Committee Monitor.