Record number of countries back CTBT resolution

In a near unanimous vote at the UN General Assembly on 3 December, the vast majority of countries registered their support for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test- Ban Treaty (CTBT). The CTBT resolution was adopted by 184 votes in favour, representing an all-time high, one against (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea [DPRK]) and three abstentions (India, Mauritius, Syria). The resolution “urges all States that have not yet signed the Treaty, in particular those whose ratification is needed for its entry into force, to sign and ratify it as soon as possible.” These States are the remaining eight of 44 Treaty-defined nuclear technology holders that have yet to formally embrace the CTBT: China, the DPRK, Egypt, India, Israel, Iran, Pakistan and the United States.

48th Plenum of the General Assembly

We must put an end to nuclear testing before nuclear testing puts an end to the world.

Increase since 2011

The voting results from this year show an increase in support with a record number of countries voting in favour of the CTBT.   Last year’s resolution on the CTBT was adopted with 174 countries voting in favour, with the same number of votes against and abstentions as in 2012. Despite not having signed the Treaty yet, Pakistan voted in favour of the resolution.

The Syrian delegation abstained from voting on the CTBT resolution, along with India and Mauritius Source: UN Photo/ Evan Schneider

The vision of a world free of nuclear weapons will never be realized if nuclear testing is allowed to continue.

Support for the CTBT expression also in other resolutions

The General Assembly also approved a resolution on “The total elimination of nuclear weapons” (PDF). The Japanese draft includes a paragraph that “Urges all States that have not yet done so to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty at the earliest opportunity”. The paragraph was approved by 165 countries voting in favour and only North Korea voting against. The overall resolution was adopted with a margin of 174-1-13.
The resolutions of the General Assembly are not legally binding, but are important recommendations that show the political stance of UN Member States on the issues concerned.  There were three further resolutions stressing the importance of the CTBT on: Nuclear Disarmament (PDF), Towards a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World (PDF), and the Follow-up to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons (PDF).
The General Assembly meeting came two months after the Ministerial Meeting on the CTBT, which issued a joint statement (PDF) stressing the importance of the CTBT as a “vital step” towards nuclear disarmament. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the States that have yet to sign or ratify the CTBT: “You are failing to live up to your responsibility as a member of the international community.”
Taking into account the number of States Signatories, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty represents a nearly universal norm.