In its final session in August, the United Nations Open-Ended Working Group on nuclear disarmament voted by a large majority in favour of recommending to the General Assembly that negotiations begin in 2017 on "a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their 15 total elimination".
The move is a clear signal that non-nuclear-armed countries and civil society organisations have lost patience with the failure of nuclear-armed states to engage in meaningful disarmament negotiations under the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty, relying on a loophole in that treaty to claim that nuclear weapons are not illegal under international law.
International disarmament campaigners have welcomed the outcome as a breakthrough on the path towards eliminating nuclear weapons. “There can be no doubt that a majority of UN members intend to pursue negotiations next year on a treaty banning nuclear weapons,” said Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). “This is a significant moment in the seven-decade-long global struggle to rid the world of the worst weapons of mass destruction,”
Irish CND welcomes the strong support shown by Irish representatives at the OEWG in Geneva for the inclusion of the recommendation to begin negotiations in the group's report to the General Assembly. Together with Austria - like Ireland not a member of NATO - Ireland defied the trend for European states either to oppose the adoption of the report or to abstain in the vote.