“Governments say a nuclear weapons ban is unlikely. Don’t believe it. They said the same about a mine ban treaty.”
On December 7 the UN General Assembly formally adopted four resolutions on nuclear weapons. The resolutions recognize the grave threat posed by the existence of nuclear weapons, the moral imperative of states to protect their people from nuclear detonation and the ethical responsibility to act for their elimination.
The Assembly has adopted nuclear weapons resolutions before, but experts say the focus on humanitarian consequences in these resolutions is encouraging. Unfortunately, most UN member states who possess nuclear weapons—or are allies of nuclear states—not only voted against the resolutions, but also actively worked to block them. Nuclear states and their allies made it clear they do not want to start negotiating a ban treaty.
An Open Ended Working Group will meet in Geneva, Switzerland in 2016 to discuss how to create effective legal measures to obtain a nuclear-free world. The group’s findings will then function as the basis for negotiations on a ban.
Nine countries possess over 15,000 nuclear weapons throughout the world. The detonation of a single nuclear warhead has the potential to kill millions of people. As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently stated, it is time to “rid the world of these most destructive weapons.”