Against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, with its attendant nuclear risks, a majority of the world’s countries have reaffirmed their support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which entered into force last year and makes nuclear weapons illegal under international law. In a vote at the United Nations on Friday, 124 countries supported a resolution calling for greater adherence to this landmark disarmament treaty.
In a separate vote, 141 countries supported a resolution reiterating “deep concern about the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons” and stressing “that it is in the interest of the very survival of humanity that nuclear weapons never be used again, under any circumstances”. The resolution also urged UN members “to exert all efforts to totally eliminate the threat of these weapons of mass destruction”.
But the nine nuclear-armed states – the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan or North Korea – opposed the resolution on the TPNW, and all except India voted against or abstained from voting the resolution on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. Many of their allies did the same based on their view that the use of nuclear weapons can be justified in some circumstances. One notable development was Australia’s shift in position, dropping its opposition to the TPNW by abstaining from voting on the resolution. Regrettably, Sweden and Finland opposed the TPNW resolution for the first time
“Like climate change and pandemic disease, the terrible risks posed by nuclear weapons constitute a global problem and require a global response,” said Beatrice Fihn, ICAN’s executive director. “It is therefore in the interest of all states – and the responsibility of all states – to confront and condemn threats to use nuclear weapons and to take action to reinforce the norm against their use.”
Global support for the TPNW continues to grow, with a further nine countries ratifying it so far this year and five signing it. Their actions bring the total number of parties to 68 and signatories to 91. Over the past month, dozens of countries have voiced support for the TPNW in statements to the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, including all Caribbean, African and Arab states.