Wien, 7. November 2012 Press release

Spindelegger: “UNO adopts Austrian initiative on a world without nuclear weapons by a great majority”

Vienna, 7 November 2012 – Vice-Chancellor, Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger was pleased about the clear outcome of the vote: "The fact that the UN General Assembly has adopted the resolution prepared by Austria together with Mexico and Norway on bringing more dynamics to multilateral disarmament negotiations is a fine success for Austrian diplomacy. The approval of 134 states – more than two thirds of the UN member states – is a clear message of the international community of states that they no longer accept the year-long stalemate in the disarmament negotiations. The goal of a world without nuclear weapons must be pursued in a credible manner by taking concrete steps. Action must now be suited to the word", the Vice-Chancellor said.   

With their initiative, the three countries wished to overcome the blockage to the Conference on Disarmament that has now continued for over a decade. For years it has not even been possible to agree on an agenda because of the opposing positions of the member states and the cumbersome procedures of the Conference. It is the consensus principle of the Conference on Disarmament that is to blame for the stalemate as it concedes an absolute veto right to the nuclear powers. The resolution that has now been adopted breaks this principle. A working group in a "more open format" will be established where all 193 UN member states, as well as the civil society and non-governmental organisations will be able to participate. Thanks to this step, a multi-lateral forum will be available for the first time as from 2013, where nuclear disarmament can be discussed in a focused manner and without the constraints of the consensus principle. This in particular was the reason for the opposition of France, the United Kingdom, Russia and the United States who were the only ones to vote against the resolution in the Disarmament Committee of the General Assembly. 

"I regret the negative attitude of the four nuclear powers. I ask them to display a more constructive approach to the dedicated goal of the international community of states, namely to achieve a world without nuclear weapons", Spindelegger said, at the same time positively mentioning China's abstention in the vote. "International relations based on the system of nuclear deterrence and mutual destruction will not be stable in the long term. The next few years will be decisive to see whether humankind will be able to find a solution to the permanent global threat to existence that is caused by nuclear weapons. Such a solution will require the political will of all states, true readiness for cooperation and a high degree of mobilisation of civil society against nuclear weapons", Vice-Chancellor Spindelegger said. "Austria will also do its utmost in future to ensure that concrete steps follow on from the announcements made about a world without nuclear arms. The great support for the resolution initiated by Austria, Mexico and Norway is encouraging and shows that the international community of states shares our objective", Spindelegger concluded.      

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