Sunday 31 May 2020

The Netherlands abstains in UN nuclear weapons vote

The UN headquarters. Photo: Depositphotos

The UN headquarters. Photo: Depositphotos

The Netherlands has abstained from voting on a United Nations motion to start discussions on an international ban on nuclear weapons.

Nuclear-armed countries such as the US and Russia, supported by their allies, were among 38 countries to vote against the procedure.

The Netherlands was under pressure from the US to vote against the motion but the Dutch parliament had called for a yes vote, news agency ANP reported. In the end, the Netherlands was the only Nato country to abstain.

Foreign affairs minister Bert Koenders told broadcaster NOS the Netherlands ‘sincerely supports a ban on nuclear weapons’ but said there are problems with the resolution itself.

In particular, it is unclear how checks and controls would be implemented, he said. The Netherlands, he said, hopes to act as a bridge between the countries which want to abolish nuclear weapons and those which want to keep them.

Ignored parliament

‘It might be positive that the Netherlands did not oppose the motion, it is a difficult decision to understand,’ said Jan Gruiters, head of Dutch peace lobby group PAX. ‘Once again the Dutch government has ignored the express wish of parliament.’

In total, 16 countries abstained, 38 voted against the motion and 123 voted for.

The resolution will now go to a full general assembly vote some time in December. The aim of the resolution is to hold a conference in March 2017 to negotiate a ‘legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination’, the Guardian said.

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