November 10, 1997

 The Disarmament Committee of the United Nations today adopted a resolution (103 in favor, 26 opposed and 24 abstaining) calling for the commencement of negotiations leading to the conclusion of an international treaty to abolish nuclear weapons. The resolution, which was submitted by Malaysia and another 47 countries, noted that the conclusion of such a treaty was necessary to implement the 1996 decision of the International Court of Justice (World Court) on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons.

The resolution was opposed by the United States, and three of the four other nuclear weapon states; France, the United Kingdom and Russia. China, however voted in favor, and the United Kingdom did not oppose the World Court's conclusion that "there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control."

The resolution was similar to one adopted last year which welcomed the 1996 advisory opinion from the World Court, but which was opposed by most Western States because it emphasised the conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention rather than just the next disarmament steps (i.e. a fissile material cut-off and further bilateral reductions). This year Malaysia added a paragraph specifically welcoming bilateral steps indicating that these, and multi-lateral disarmament steps, would be consistent with the aim of a nuclear weapons convention. While this did not bring any more votes from Western States, a number of other "middle" countries which abstained last year, including Ukraine, Chile and Argentina, voted in favor this time.

 The resolution now goes to the plenary of the UN General Assembly for a vote in early December.

 ACTION: Please find out whether your country voted in favor. If they did not, write to your Foreign Minister urging that they support the resolution when it is put to the vote before the United Nations General Assembly in December.

For more information contact;
Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy
666 Broadway, #625, New York, NY 10012.
Phone (1) 212 674 7790. Fax (1) 212 674 6199

About U.N. Committee Vote
Malaysia Resolution