As U.S. President-elect Donald Trump continues to receive domestic and international rebuke for his comments on the subject, the General Assembly of the United Nations on Friday adopted a resolution which calls for negotiations to begin next year on an international treaty to completely ban the use of nuclear weapons.
The resolution was adopted by a large majority, with 113 UN member states voting in favour, 35 voting against and 13 abstaining. Support was strongest among the nations of Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Unfortunately, yet predictably, the resolution was opposed by the major nuclear powers, including the United States, Britain, France and Russia.
A cross-regional group comprising Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, Nigeria and South Africa initiated the resolution and are expected to lead the negotiations, now slated to begin in March.
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which backed the resolution, celebrated its passage and urged all nations to take part in the talks.
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"Every nation has an interest in ensuring that nuclear weapons are never used again, which can only be guaranteed through their complete elimination. We are calling on all governments to join next year’s negotiations and work to achieve a strong and effective treaty," said Beatrice Fihn, executive director of ICAN.
In a report released earlier this year, the Ploughshares Fund explained why nuclear weapons remain among the single largest threats to both humanity and the planet. "Nuclear weapons continue to be one of the most serious threats to international peace and security around the world. They are the most destructive, inhumane and indiscriminate weapons ever created. Both in the scale of the devastation they cause, and in their uniquely persistent and hazardous radioactive fallout, they are unlike any other weapons. A single nuclear bomb detonated over a large city could kill millions of people. The use of tens or hundreds of nuclear bombs would disrupt the Earth’s climate worldwide and cause widespread famine."
Following public comments by Trump this week, nuclear weapons and the threat of proliferation broke into news headlines across the globe. ICAN argues that despite such careless rhetoric and behavior by world powers (by which they also meant recent statements by Russian President Vladimir Putin), the drive to ban the weapons will continue.
As Putin & Trump calls for a new nuclear arms race, we are leading the counter-movement. We're banning nukes in 2017, with or without them! pic.twitter.com/fWUJKxXdOp— ICAN (@nuclearban) December 22, 2016