The United Nations adopted a landmark resolution on 27 October to launch negotiations in 2017 on a treaty outlawing nuclear weapons. This historic decision heralds an end to two decades of paralysis in multilateral nuclear disarmament efforts.
At a meeting of the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, which deals with disarmament and international security matters, 123 nations voted in favor of the resolution, with 38 against and 16 abstaining, including Finland. But the matter will proceed, as there is a large majority.
It is a very strange situation, as the UN vote came just hours after the European Parliament adopted its own resolution on this subject – 415 in favor and 124 against, with 74 abstentions – inviting European Union member states to “participate constructively” in next year’s negotiations.
Norway, and in the EU Sweden, Austria and Cyprus voted the resolution. All NATO countries, led by the US with some traditional allies, and Russia and their allies opposed the resolution or abstained.
The explanation given by Finland is that we prefer the Non Proliferation Treaty or NPT (which has been blocked and ineffective for 20 years). I let you read the official Finnish position, so you will probably understand the complex thinking of the Finnish government better than the Swedes (and us) :
“The discourse on the humanitarian aspects of nuclear weapons addresses concerns of citizens all over the world. We recognize that as long as nuclear weapons exist there is a risk of a catastrophe with immeasurable human and humanitarian costs.
Finland is a strong advocate for the NPT as the central instrument in nuclear disarmament. We also consider the NPT as a key pillar of the international security architecture, and continue to support effective implementation of this Treaty as a whole.
We must aim for a world free of nuclear weapons. To do this, we need to develop unity of
purpose and a broader common understanding of the steps that will lead us there. Finland is supportive to activities which are based on a progressive approach. Finland is in favor of nuclear disarmament that leads to a concrete outcome. For Finland the participation of the nuclear weapon states remains a key in achieving effective and concrete nuclear disarmament. That is the only way to decrease the number of all types of nuclear weapons in the world. This resolution will not lead us there.
Mr. Chairperson, Finland’s position on nuclear disarmament is coherent and practical based on arguments just mentioned. We therefore decided to abstain on a vote concerning this resolution“.
So Finland prefers a non implemented treaty without future to a possible decision on an immediate ban on nuclear weapon. As indicated by Sweden, it is not necessarily the smart move, considering our position on the globe…