India declines to vote in the UN Nuclear Weapon Ban conference

Western nuclear powers go against the motion

Business & Politics

March 28, 2017

/ By Sudipto Roy / Kolkata


United Nations negotiating a ban on nuclear weapons in New York

India once again refuses to vote at the United Nations talks on banning of nuclear weapons as major global powers such as France, Great Britain, Russia and the United States votes no.

A conference held in New York on Monday witnessed a no-show from India as diplomatic sources revealed that India is closely monitoring the developments although refraining from voting a direct yes or no. Neighbours by proximity, Pakistan and China have also abstained from voting on the motion that demands the holistic ban of nuclear weapons and gradually leading to total elimination.

The UN General Assembly committee that adopted a novel resolution last year to launch negotiations on a new treaty that will outlaw nuclear weapons saw its second congress in New York. India abstained from the taking a stance in October 2016, stating that the guidelines are not convincing enough. India remains stoic in its stance, reiterating that this treaty might not be a comprehensive policy on nuclear disarmament.

Allegedly an independent decision taken by New Delhi, India was expected to produce an all-inclusive statement clearing its stance on the meeting that has officially proclaimed itself as the Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading Towards their Total Elimination.

The Nuclear Ban Consensus

Although, countries leading the effort such as Austria, Mexico, Brazil, Ireland, Sweden and South Africa have noted and voted in favour of nuclear disarmament, there is a major issue of the accord. A number of NGOs have backed their efforts; however, even Japan, the only country to suffer an atomic attack in 1945 also voted against the motion on the grounds that the negotiations are not the most effective means of nuclear disarmament.

“It has been an amazing first day of the UN conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination. I am delighted with the beginning of our work,” said Elayne Whyte, the chair of the conference.

The universal objective of taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations remains the achievement and maintenance of a world without nuclear weapons. While the supporters cite grassroots level developments leading to the prohibition of landmines, the oppositions are keener to pitch and realise the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as the road to comprehensive disarmament.

Nikki Haley, the US Parliament Representative, announced that the major western nuclear powers and 37 other nations have decided to put an embargo on further talks. Questioning North Korea’s intentions on banning nuclear weapons, she said, “We have to be realistic. Is there anyone that believes that North Korea would agree to a ban on nuclear weapons?”

Beatrice Finh, the director of International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ican), an international coalition of NGOs promoting the ban of weapons, said, “The treaty will have an impact even on countries which fail to participate, by setting international norms of behaviour and removing the political prestige associated with nuclear weapons.”

India and its neighbours

The geopolitical state of affairs among India and its two neighbours with nuclear weapons, China and Pakistan, are definitely not in serene unity. The abstinence from voting in the conference discussing the ban of nuclear weapons by India along with Pakistan and China could also spur debates on the equation of nuclear power and the intent to use them. The rising tension in the border areas along with the political unrest concerning the Indus Waters between India and Pakistan could be seen as the cause of further speculation. However, India has, over the last couple of years, maintained a strange stance of not voting in most of the UN-led conferences. Whether it was the vote on LGBT issue or the Syria ceasefire, India refrained from taking a side.

In a situation where international peace and security are increasingly becoming global topics, the message from Pope Francis serve as the best closing note: “How stable is stability based on fear?”

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  1. Gary Stark says:

    It’s very clear the the United Nations has failed to deter nuclear proliferation. The world is arguably a more dangerous place today than when the UN was founded. India is a perfect example of why the UN is broken. As the world’s largest democracy, India lacks the representation it deserves…

    This describes exactly what needs to be done.

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