NEW YORK – Japan has again omitted any reference to a landmark nuclear arms ban treaty, adopted last year, in its draft annual U.N. resolution calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons — despite falling support for its previous resolution.
The draft, submitted by Thursday’s deadline, will be voted on next month before being passed to a vote at a General Assembly session in December.
As the only country ever to have suffered the devastation of atomic bombings, Japan has submitted nuclear disarmament resolutions for 25 consecutive years. Until last year, the document was backed by a wide majority of U.N. member states and generated little debate.
But the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), passed in July 2017 with the support of 122 nations, changed the diplomatic landscape in the United Nation’s so-called first committee that tackles disarmament and international security issues each fall, with Japan among the opponents of the pact due to the nation’s reliance on the U.S. nuclear umbrella.
The treaty requires ratification by 50 countries before it can enter into force. So far it has been signed by 69 countries and ratified by 19. Its opponents also include all five permanent Security Council members — the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia — all of which possess nuclear weapons.
Last year, with great effort, Japan eventually garnered support from 156 countries for its resolution — down from 167 nations the previous year. Many states had wanted the treaty mentioned in last year’s document, and also opposed changes to what had become the accepted language of the annual resolution.
“It is striking that while the draft refers to ‘catastrophic humanitarian consequences’ of nuclear explosions — a central theme of the TPNW and the process that led to it — it does not refer to the TPNW,” said John Burroughs, executive director of the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy. “This is unfortunate.”
In addition to calling for a renewal of the determination of all member states to “take united action toward the total elimination of nuclear weapons,” this year’s resolution reflects some recent developments, according to a draft.
The text mentions U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s recent first visit to Nagasaki, the first by a sitting U.N. chief to the atomic-bombed city, and includes references to developments in North Korea.
The resolution once again “condemns in the strongest terms all nuclear tests and ballistic missile technology” while newly urging North Korea “to fulfill its commitments made” in the three inter-Korean summits this year, as well as the June 12 meeting in Singapore between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, for the “final, fully verified denuclearization” of the country.
Also repeated from last year’s text is an expression of “deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use,” which generated debate in the previous year after slightly stronger phrasing that opposed “any use” was dropped.