ICAN welcomes draft UN treaty to ban nuclear weapons

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23 May 2017

Australia isolated as majority of nations pursue a ban by 7 July

The first draft of a United Nations treaty to outlaw nuclear weapons was released in Geneva today. More than 130 nations are involved in negotiating the historic accord, but Australia is absent. Many hope that the treaty can be concluded by 7 July.

"Most nations take the threat of nuclear weapons very seriously and are striving for disarmament," said Tim Wright, Asia-Pacific director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICANi). "Australia, regrettably, is defending the dangerous status quo."

The foreign minister, Julie Bishop, argues that it is not in Australia's national interests to support a ban on nuclear weapons, as it relies on US nuclear forces for its security and prosperity. She says that nuclear weapons are legitimate and necessary.
 
"Nations such as Indonesia and New Zealand are among the leading proponents of this important new treaty. They consider it essential for global security and are dismayed by Australia's strident opposition to the initiative," said Wright.

Read the draft text here

Countries now face the task of finalising the treaty at the second negotiation session, which begins on 15 June and ends on 7 July. ICANi is calling on Australia to join this session. Failure to participate will further diminish its international reputation in this field.

"The draft treaty provides a solid basis for successful negotiations in June and July. It is rooted in humanitarian principles and builds on existing prohibitions on other indiscriminate weapons, such as chemical and biological weapons, landmines and cluster munitions."

In March, the Australian senate passed a motion urging the government "to participate constructively" in the process. Labor and the Greens have voiced strong support for the ban, describing it as an urgent humanitarian imperative.

Recent polling shows that 74 per cent of Australians want the government to participate in the negotiations. "Remaining outside this historic process casts great doubt on Australia's commitment to realising a nuclear-weapon-free world," said Wright.

ICANi is a coalition of non-governmental organisations in more than 100 nations working for a strong and effective nuclear weapon ban treaty. It originated in Melbourne in 2007.

Contacts:

Tim Wright
0400 967 233

Gemma Romuld
0421 955 066