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28th October 2016, 16:17:58 UTC

Following the UN General Assembly’s vote to adopt a landmark resolution to launch negotiations in 2017 on a treaty outlawing nuclear weapons, Patrick Wilcken, Researcher on Arms Control, Security Trade and Human Rights at Amnesty International, said:

“This historic decision is a vote for common sense and humanity. It brings us a step closer to a world free from the horrors of nuclear weapons, the most destructive and indiscriminate weapons ever created. This vote shows that a majority of states consider a global prohibition on nuclear weapons to be the best option for protecting the world from their catastrophic effects.

“We are opposed to the use, possession, production and transfer of nuclear weapons by any country, including permanent members of the UN Security Council, and so it was deeply disappointing to see that these, and other nuclear-armed states, voted against the resolution or abstained. We are calling on them to take a stand for human rights by participating fully in the coming negotiations.”

On 27 October at the UN General Assembly’s First Committee, which deals with disarmament and international security matters, 123 nations voted in favour of the resolution, with 38 against and 16 abstaining. Among those voting against were four of the five the Permanent Five (P5) members of the UN Security Council – France, Russia, USA and the UK – with China abstaining; all of the P5 possess nuclear weapons.

The resolution paves the way for a March 2017 UN conference to negotiate a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”.

Amnesty International supports the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons in advocating for a global ban treaty.