Historic UN Vote on Nuclear Ban Treaty

1st-comPeggy Mason, Former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament to the UN, now President of the Rideau Institute, released the following statement after Canada’s UN vote on October 27th, 2016 against Resolution L.41.

“The First Committee on Disarmament and International Security of the UN General Assembly today passed an historic resolution, mandating the launch in 2017 of negotiations for a legally binding instrument prohibiting nuclear weapons. Such a ban would reinforce customary international law against the threat or use of nuclear weapons and pave the way for further negotiations on their verifiable destruction and ultimate elimination.

Tensions between Russia and the USA are dangerously high. Massive nuclear weapons modernization programmes are underway. The negotiation to be launched by this resolution is the best hope the international community has to move away from the nuclear brink.

Canada’s vote against this resolution puts this country, quite simply, on the wrong side of history. Canada was one of only a handful of countries to vote NO. In so doing we joined with most other NATO member states, in blatant contradiction of our legal obligation under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) Article VI to enter into good faith negotiations for nuclear disarmament. This is the exact opposite of what Canada should be doing. We should be working as hard as we can to reduce NATO’s unconscionable and unnecessary reliance on nuclear weapons, not using that reliance as a reason for opposing nuclear disarmament negotiations at the UN. In that regard, we note that fellow NATO member, Netherlands, withstood American pressure and abstained rather than voting no.

Canada has another opportunity to put this right when the General Assembly votes on this resolution in early December. We call on Canada to change its vote ideally to a YES but, at a minimum, to an abstention and at the same time to signal its intent to contribute constructively to the negotiation, once launched. These actions would be worthy of a country seeking to be elected to the UN Security Council in 2021.”


For background information on the resolution, click: UN Votes to Outlaw Nuclear Weapons in 2017 (ICAN.org 27 October 2016).

For details of how each UN member state voted, click: Voting Result on UN Resolution L.41 (ICAN.org, 27 October 2016).


Photo credit: ICAN

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17 Responses to “Historic UN Vote on Nuclear Ban Treaty”

  1. Jennifer W.October 31, 2016 at 6:59 pm #

    How very disappointing Mr. Trudeau’s stand has been. Is this man more than platitudes and smiles?

  2. Jana Lynne WhiteOctober 30, 2016 at 2:05 am #

    As adults, we are duty-bound to take action and do the right thing.

    We continue to play with destructive forces that can end all existence. We continue to operate out of greed and an ego driven need to control.

    Enough already. Let’s all grow up and stop being stupid.

    No more nuclear proliferation.

    Earth first.

  3. Howard A. DoughtyOctober 28, 2016 at 11:50 pm #

    Justin Trudeau’s empty slogan “sunny ways” mimicked Barack Obama’s equally vacuous claim to “change we can believe in” (though, to be fair, it wasn’t as air-headed as Pierre Trudeau’s 1970s-vintage phrasing of “the land is strong”).

    Surely no one with the wit to flip a light-switch believed that Trudeau-the-Younger ever intended to be more than “Harper-lite” (same policies, but with a more cheerful “tone”).

    If, however, anyone was actually persuaded by the Prime Minister’s image machine, I hope that the spell is being broken. Shifting away from campaign commitments to electoral reform, seriously rejigging Bill C-51, acting like a “progressive” on everything from physician-assisted suicide to the legalization of marijuana, and so on has now become the main method of this 39% majority.

    I trust that all those people who went scampering to the Liberal “brand” in a pusillanimous exercise in “strategic voting” are now experiencing “buyer’s remorse.”

    • Carol PickupOctober 29, 2016 at 11:34 am #

      Right on Howard!!

  4. Paul R. MaasOctober 28, 2016 at 11:18 pm #

    With regard to threats to Canada, I would remind Doug Mason that only one nation has ever attacked our country and only one nation has used a nuclear bomb on another country – the U.S.A.

    It is time that we left NATO, which is nothing more than a sychophantic toady of the U.S. and supported peace. Some of us thought that this is what Trudeau promised. Instead he seems to be barely distinguishable from Harper!

    • Carol PickupOctober 29, 2016 at 11:36 am #

      Right on Paul-Canada should leave NATO!!

      • Canada JoeNovember 6, 2016 at 5:47 pm #

        You thought Justin was going to pull Canada out of NATO….. hahahahahaha

  5. Neil FinnieOctober 28, 2016 at 10:55 pm #

    Einstein said it most eloquently many years ago…”The splitting of the atom has changed everything but the way we think. Thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe. We shall require a substantially new way of thinking if mankind is to survive.”

    Canada seems to be stuck in that senseless, world destructive mode.
    Will we have time to change this around?
    All of us have to strive for this “most important of all” change in direction.
    Talk about it openly, acknowledge our fears, become publicly and politically active.
    Write letters. Talk to youth. Inform our children and grandchildren. Join groups directed at resolving the nuclear disarmament issue.
    DON’T do nothing.

    • Carol PickupOctober 29, 2016 at 11:38 am #


  6. Janet VickersOctober 28, 2016 at 9:10 pm #

    Nuclear weapons are not really for the other nations that threaten us – they are to keep the masses living between fear, panic and fantasy. In that way we are easily manipulated to believe the other is the threat. For the last forty years the threat has been the neoliberal wizards who have minions to create new ideologies, new wars and new enemies.

  7. Anne StreeterOctober 28, 2016 at 5:55 pm #

    Shocking, absolutely shocking! I agree completely with John Tee!

    • Maria A Francini MDOctober 28, 2016 at 6:09 pm #

      I was in WWII I do NOT want another war! It is horrible!

  8. John TeeOctober 28, 2016 at 5:19 pm #

    Obviously Trudeau Jr. and the Liberals are slaves to the warmongers in Washington. NATO needs to be disbanded; the EU to form its own defense policies. Russia is not a threat, hegemonic USA and their fanatic Muslim fundamentalist proxies are.

    • Doug MasonOctober 28, 2016 at 8:05 pm #

      John Tee,
      Russia is not a threat? Of course it is a threat! China is a threat. The U.S. is a threat. The Middle East is a threat. It is a dangerous world out there but that doesn’t justify the aggressive posture of a nuclear weapon arsenal. We have enough examples of international peace through international cooperation so that we should be able to have confidence in robust relations countering robust militaries, but we seldom do. Here is a comment about teaching Canadian children about the treaties between First Nations and the Crown/Canada that gives me hope:

      “The hidden secret about treaty education is that it is not just about treaties but about relationships, it’s about peoples with very different world views figuring out ways to live peacefully together, creating enduring obligations towards each other to help each other in the future. It is very rewarding to see young people exemplifying and living that relationship.”
      -James B. (Jamie) Wilson is the Commissioner, Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba http://www.ictinc.ca/blog/the-importance-of-treaty-education


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