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US Ambassador to UN Nikki Haley resigns

US President Donald Trump has announced the resignation of the country's envoy to the UN. Nikki Haley, who had served since January 2017, is the latest in a series of high-profile departures from the administration. US President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he had accepted the resignation of United Nations envoy Nikki Haley. Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, Trump said Haley would leave the administration "at the end of the year," adding that she had done an incredible job. The president said that together, they had "solved a lot of problems." "We hate to lose (you)," Trump said. "Hopefully, you'll be coming back at some point. Maybe a different capacity. You can have your pick." No reason for the resignation has yet been provided. Haley insisted she was not planning to run for president against Trump in 2020, saying only that being ambassador had "been the honor of a lifetime," and that it was "important to understand when it's time to stand aside." Her departure is being seen as a blow for the White House just weeks before the US midterm election. Haley's is the latest resignation in a leadership team with a relatively high turnover — Trump has already lost one secretary of state and two national security advisers. Read more: Is the UN facing budget cuts under Trump? DW's Washington correspondent, Maya Shwayder, described the resignation as a big loss, saying that Haley was a well-respected diplomat within the administration. Before being chosen as Trump's ambassador in November 2016, Haley, 46, served as governor of the state of South Carolina — the first woman to hold the post. As governor she was a vocal critic of Trump's remarks on immigrants during the 2016 presidential campaign. She also gained a reputation as a racial conciliator after leading the campaign to take down the Confederate flag at the South Carolina State House in 2015. Haley's limited foreign policy experience made her a surprising pick for UN ambassador. In the role, she represented Trump's often unpopular agenda at the UN, advocating a hard-line stance on Iran, cutting the UN budget and leading the US withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council after accusing the body of being anti-Israel. Last month, she coordinated Trump's first time chairing the UN Security Council. "Look at what has happened in two years with the United States on foreign policy. Now, the United States is respected," Haley told reporters at the White House. "Countries may not like what we do, but they respect what we do." UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his "deep appreciation for the excellent cooperation and support" that Haley has shown, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Danon thanked Haley for being a "true friend" to the country. "Thank you for representing the values common to Israel and the United States," he said in a statement. The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations committee, Bob Menendez, said he was "deeply concerned about the leadership vacuum" created by Haley's resignation, and called it "yet another sign of the Trump administration's chaotic foreign policy." Trump said he would name her successor in the next two to three weeks.

US President Donald Trump has announced the resignation of the country’s envoy to the UN. Nikki Haley, who had served since January 2017, is the latest in a series of high-profile departures from the administration. US President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he had accepted the resignation of United Nations envoy Nikki Haley. Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, ... Read More »

Rebels attack UN peacekeepers in DRC, with more than a dozen dead and scores wounded

The attack is the deadliest against UN forces in recent years. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called it "a war crime." Rebels attacked a UN peacekeeping base in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's east on Thursday night, killing at least 14 soldiers and wounding more than 50 in one of the deadliest attacks on a UN mission in recent years. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the attack as "a war crime." "Today is a very tragic day for the UN family," he said, speaking of his "outrage and utter heartbreak." He urged Congolese authorities to carry out a swift investigation and find the perpetrators. Suspected Islamist rebels The UN mission, known as MONUSCO, said the raid was carried out by suspected militants from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). MONUSCO said was planning a joint military response with the Congolese army but was also evacuating the wounded from the base in North Kivu's Beni territory. The ADF is an Islamist group of insurgents from across the border in Uganda. Most of the peacekeepers killed were from Tanzania but at least five Congolese soldiers also died in the attack, which occurred about 25 miles (45 kilometers) from the regional capital, Beni. The UN said at least two peacekeepers remained missing. The base houses the UN's rapid intervention force, which has a rare mandate to launch offensive strikes. Because of that, the base and its soldiers have become frequent targets of the ADF. The UN-backed Radio Okapi reported that the fight lasted four hours. Almost 300 peacekeepers have been killed since the UN mission arrived in the battle-scarred country in 1999.

The attack is the deadliest against UN forces in recent years. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called it “a war crime.” Rebels attacked a UN peacekeeping base in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s east on Thursday night, killing at least 14 soldiers and wounding more than 50 in one of the deadliest attacks on a UN mission in recent years. ... Read More »

UN Rohingya conference: EU pledges millions in aid for refugees

سوئس شہر جنیوا میں آج دنیا میں پیدا ہونے والے مہاجرین سب سے بڑے بحران کے موضوع پر ایک ڈونر کانفرنس کا انعقاد کیا جا رہا ہے۔ اس دوران روہنگیا پناہ گزینوں کے لیے رقم جمع کی جائے گی۔ اقوام متحدہ نے مختلف ممالک سے درخواست کی ہے کہ جنیوا اجلاس کے دوران روہنگیا برادری کے لیے کم از کم 434 ملین ڈالر اکھٹے کیے جائیں۔ روہنگیا کی ہجرت کا معاملہ بنگلہ دیش اور میانمار کے مابین تیزی سے ایک بحران کی صورت اختیار کرتا جا رہا ہے۔ اقوام متحدہ کے ادارے برائے مہاجرین کے سربراہ فیلیپو گرانڈی کے بقول، ’’یہ بہت ہی نازک صورتحال ہے اور اس سلسلے میں امداد کی شدید ضرورت ہے۔‘‘ یہ رقم اقوام متحدہ کے ان مختلف منصوبوں پر خرچ کی جائے گی، جو بنگلہ دیش میں رہائش پذیر روہنگیا کے لیے جاری ہیں۔ بتايا گيا ہے کہ اس امدادی رقم سے آئندہ برس فروری تک کے ليے روہنگيا مسلمانوں کو بنيادی سہوليات فراہم کی جائيں گی۔ تشدد کی وجہ سے میانمار سے فرار ہو کر بنگلہ دیش پہنچنے والے روہنگیا کی تعداد تقریباً چھ لاکھ ہو چکی ہے۔ بنگلہ دیش کا شمار ایشیا کی غریب ترین ریاستوں میں ہوتا ہے، تاہم اس کے باوجود اس ملک نے اپنی سرحدیں روہنگیا مسلمانوں کے لیے کھولی ہوئی ہیں۔ اقوام متحدہ کے ہنگامی امداد کے ادارے کے سربراہ مارک لوکوک نے کہا ہے کہ سالوں سے روہنگیا برادری کے خلاف جاری ظلم و ستم، زیادتی اور نقل مکانی کی وجہ سے اسے کوئی علیحدہ یا الگ تھلگ بحران قرار نہیں دیا جا سکتا ہے۔ رپورٹس کے مطابق ہر دس روہنگیا مہاجر میں سے چھ بچے ہیں اور ان میں سے اکثریت کو کم خوراکی کا سامنا ہے۔ بنگلہ دیش میں شہر کوکس بازار میں اور اس کے ارد گرد قائم مہاجرین کے مراکز میں مقیم روہنگیا کو پانی کی کمی اور نکاسی آب کا نظام نہ ہونے کی وجہ سے ان کیمپوں میں بیماریوں کے پھوٹ پڑنے کے خطرات بڑھتے جا رہے ہیں۔

The EU has pledged €30 million as the UN holds a fundraising conference to aid Rohingya Muslims who have fled Myanmar. More than 600,000 Rohingya have escaped to Bangladesh amid persecution at home. The European Commission on Monday promised to give €30 million ($35 million) as the United Nations opened a fundraising conference in Geneva that aims to secure some ... Read More »

China calls for stop to North Korea missile tests and US-South Korean military drills

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi says this could prevent a "head-on collision" amid growing tension. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council condemned Pyongyang's latest launches, promising further measures. Amid growing tension in the Korean peninsula, China proposed on Wednesday that North Korea could suspend its nuclear and missile activities in exchange for a halt of the military drills held by the US and South Korea. This could be a first step to prevent a "head-on collision," Foreign Minister Wang Yi said. "The two sides are like two accelerating trains coming toward each other with neither side willing to give way," Wang told reporters. "Our priority now is to flash the red light and apply the brakes on both trains." "This 'suspension for suspension' can help us break out of the security dilemma and bring the parties back to the negotiating table," he said. Pyongyang shot four ballistic missiles towards US bases stationed in Japan on Monday, with all four hitting the ocean, three close to the coast in exclusively Japanese held waters. Last week, Seoul and Washington began their annual joint military exercises. While the two countries see these drills as purely defensive, North Korea views them as a provocation and a preparation for a war against the country. A planned missile defense system in South Korea is also the source of friction in Northeast Asia. The US Pacific Command announced on Monday that Americans had begun deploying the so-called Terminal High Altitude Defense System (THAAD). THAAD is meant to shoot down North Korean missiles aimed at its Southern neighbor. Not only Pyongyang opposes the joint project by the US and South Korea, but also Bejing. China believes that the system could reach into its territory and thus threaten its security interests. UN: 'Increasingly destabilizing behavior' On Tuesday, the UN Security Council passed a statement that strongly condemned North Korea's recent ballistic missile launches, calling them a "grave violation" of UN resolutions banning the country from developing missile technology. The panel expressed serious concern over Pyongyang's "increasingly destabilizing behavior." "The members of the Security Council further regretted that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is diverting resources to the pursuit of ballistic missiles while Democratic People's Republic of Korea citizens have great unmet needs," the paper said. The UN statement urged all 193 member states "to redouble their efforts to implement" the sanctions against North Korea. The Security Council vowed to closely monitor the situation and to "take further significant measures." Starting in 2006, the UN has imposed increasingly tougher restrictions, including an arms embargo, on the Kim regime to punish the country for developing nuclear weapons and missiles. Briefing set for Wednesday The council will hold a closed door meeting later on Wednesday to be briefed on the latest North Korean missile launches. The UN condemnation was approved unanimously by all 15 members of the Security Council, in spite of heightened tension between the US and China, two of the five permanent members on the Security Council, over THAAD. A recent report by a UN panel of experts raised questions about Bejing's commitment to the sanctions. According to the paper, North Korea set up front companies in other countries to circumvent the restrictions, most notably in China and Malaysia.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi says this could prevent a “head-on collision” amid growing tension. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council condemned Pyongyang’s latest launches, promising further measures. Amid growing tension in the Korean peninsula, China proposed on Wednesday that North Korea could suspend its nuclear and missile activities in exchange for a halt of the military drills held by the ... Read More »

UN alarmed over escalation in fighting in Damascus ahead of Geneva peace talks

The UN has expressed concern over the escalation in fighting around Damascus. Syria peace talks are due to resume with the UN's envoy Staffan de Mistura expressing 'chronic optimism.' There have been reports of civilian deaths and injuries from shelling in Qabun, Barzeh, Tishreen and western Harasta districts of the city of Damascus, UN spokesman Farhan Haq said on Monday. "The UN is alarmed by the intensification of fighting in the Damascus area in recent days," said Haq, adding that over 100,000 civilians were living in need in neighborhoods that have seen an upsurge in fighting since Saturday. So-called Islamic State (IS)-linked groups on Monday reportedly launched a surprise attack on moderate rebels in southwestern Syria near the Golan Heights, seizing several villages and a large town. Peace talks Representatives from the opposition and President Bashar al-Assad's regime head to Geneva on Thursday for talks to end their country's six-year war. They are the fourth round of negotiations between Syria's warring parties moderated by the 70-year-old de Mistura (photo). De Mistura said the agenda at the talks would mirror the objectives outlined in UN Security Council Resolution 2254 from December 2015. The Security Council expressed its support for establishing inclusive and non-sectarian governance, the drafting of a new constitution and free and fair elections. Haq said there were still questions over the delegations. "We do expect clarifications on who precisely will be coming over," he said. The last round of talks broke up in April last year with violence ongoing on the ground. The UN-backed humanitarian taskforce created under de Mistura's watch has partially succeeded in increasing aid flows. In 2015 fewer than 500,000 Syrians in besieged and hard-to-reach areas received life-saving supplies. That number jumped to 1.3 million last year, according to the UN. Human rights groups attack Russia Participants in the talks should prioritize five key human rights issues during negotiations, 40 human rights and other organizations said in a statement released early on Tuesday. "The priorities are to end unlawful attacks, ensure aid access and safe passage for fleeing civilians, detainee rights, justice, and security sector reform," the statement read. "One of the main goals of the Geneva talks should be putting an end to the violations against Syrians who have faced bombing, chemical attacks, starvation, illegal detention, and more horrors," said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "The US-led coalition should take fully into account that the Russia-Syria coalition has repeatedly committed war crimes under the guise of fighting terrorism, and that any cooperation with Russia in the fight against the IS in Syria should ensure that it is not complicit in such crimes," the human rights statement reads.

The UN has expressed concern over the escalation in fighting around Damascus. Syria peace talks are due to resume with the UN’s envoy Staffan de Mistura expressing ‘chronic optimism.’ There have been reports of civilian deaths and injuries from shelling in Qabun, Barzeh, Tishreen and western Harasta districts of the city of Damascus, UN spokesman Farhan Haq said on Monday. ... Read More »

Turkey must release jailed Rwanda case judge, UN court orders

A United Nations court has called on Ankara to release Aydin Sefa Akay, a UN judge arrested by Turkey following last year's failed military coup. The UN legal panel said Akay's detention violates his diplomatic immunity. The UN's Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) ordered the Turkish government Tuesday to free Akay by February 14 and halt all legal proceedings against him, insisting the UN judge enjoys diplomatic immunity. Akay, both a judge and a diplomat, is one of about 40,000 Turkish officials who were taken into custody by the authorities in the wake ofa botched coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July last year. The government blamed the failed putsch on the followers of Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric living in exile in the US. "Diplomatic immunity is a cornerstone of an independent judiciary," said Theodor Meron, president of the MICT. Akay is a member of the panel of judges that is reviewing the case of a former Rwandan minister convicted of involvement in the country's 1994 genocide. Augustin Ngirabatware, who was given 30 years in prison by the UN's Rwanda Tribunal, requested a review of his sentence last year. The MICT order said that replacing Akay on the panel would have "a chilling effect on the administration of justice" by allowing "interference by a national authority in the conduct of a case and the exercise of judicial functions." The MICT order also rejected Ngirabatware's appeal for temporary release while his case is on ice due to Akay's detention. According to Turkish media, Akay was arrested last year for having a mobile messaging application that was allegedly used by the coup plotters.

A United Nations court has called on Ankara to release Aydin Sefa Akay, a UN judge arrested by Turkey following last year’s failed military coup. The UN legal panel said Akay’s detention violates his diplomatic immunity. The UN’s Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) ordered the Turkish government Tuesday to free Akay by February 14 and halt all legal proceedings ... Read More »

UN chief Guterres sees ‘historic opportunity’ for Cyprus talks breakthrough

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he believes there is "a historic opportunity" for a breakthrough in talks aimed at reuniting Cyprus. The two sides have been trying to strike an accord for decades. Guterres - the new UN chief - will be chairing a conference in Geneva from January 12 with the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders and Cyprus' three guarantors - Britain, Greece and Turkey - that to find an agreement on post-settlement security arrangements, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. The secretary-general "appealed to all parties to use this opportunity to find creative and mutually acceptable solutions that address the concerns of both communities," Dujarric said. The conference will follow three days of talks between the island's Greek Cypriot president, Nicos Anastasiades, and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci. "We're at a very decisive phase in the Cyprus peace talks," Dujarric said. "At this point it's really about being supportive of the process and seeing how the parties can finally bridge the final gaps." Guterres met Thursday with Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and late Friday afternoon with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias. Kotzias called it a "very nice" meeting but refused to comment on the Cyprus talks. The 1974 split The island was split into a Greek Cypriot south and a Turkish Cypriot north in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by Cypriot supporters of union with Greece. Turkish Cypriots declared an independent state in 1983, but only Turkey recognizes it and keeps 35,000 troops there. The island joined the EU in 2004, but only the Greek-speaking south enjoys full membership benefits. Combating sex abuse allegations Guterres also said on Friday he would focus on combating sexual abuse in peacekeeping, announcing plans to map out a new "game-changing" strategy to address the problem. Guterres - who took over from Ban Ki-moon on January 1 - named a nine-member task force to come up with a new approach. UN peacekeeping missions have been hit by dozens of allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation, but troop-contributing countries have been reluctant to prosecute those accused. "It's about how we react, how we put the victims at the center and it's about accountability," said Dujarric. Some 100,000 troops and police from 123 countries serve in UN peacekeeping.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he believes there is “a historic opportunity” for a breakthrough in talks aimed at reuniting Cyprus. The two sides have been trying to strike an accord for decades. Guterres – the new UN chief – will be chairing a conference in Geneva from January 12 with the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders and Cyprus’ three guarantors ... Read More »

UN to set up war crimes panel for Syria investigations

The UN has approved a resolution to set up a panel to gather evidence of possible war crimes in Syria. Syria's UN Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari said the resolution was illegal and a threat to a solution to the conflict. The 193-member body adopted a resolution Wednesday by a vote of 105 to 15 with 52 abstentions. Iran, China and Russia - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's main ally - were among the countries which voted against. "The General Assembly today demonstrated that it can take the reins on questions of justice in the face of a Security Council deadlock," said Balkees Jarah of Human Rights Watch. "The countries that voted for this unprecedented Syria resolution took a critically important stand for victims of grave crimes." The resolution stresses the need for the new body "to closely coordinate" with an independent commission appointed by the UN Human Rights Council which has said war crimes are "rampant" in Syria. Syria and her ally Russia accused the assembly of interfering in the work of the Security Council. Syria's Ambassador Bashar Jafaari slammed the measure, saying it was contrary to the UN charter and a "flagrant interference in the internal affairs of a UN member-state." The resolution tasks the UN secretary-general to report within 20 days on the establishment of the new panel, which will be funded by the United Nations. It will set up an "international, impartial and independent mechanism to assist in the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the most serious crimes" in Syria since March 2011, when the conflict began. The panel will "collect, consolidate, preserve and analyze evidence of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights violations and abuses and prepare files in order to facilitate and expedite fair and independent criminal proceedings," according to the draft text. Aleppo aid convoy attacked from the air Meanwhile, a UN inquiry has concluded that a UN aid convoy that was bombed while en route to the besieged city of Aleppo in September had come under air attack, but was unable to identify the perpetrators. In a summary of the findings released on Wednesday, the UN said the convoy had been "subject to an attack from the air, using multiple types of munitions deployed from more than one aircraft and aircraft type." At least 10 people were killed and 22 injured in the September 19 attack at Urem al-Kubra, near Aleppo, as a fragile ceasefire agreed to by the US and Russia collapsed. The inquiry panel said it had received reports that three Syria helicopters and three aircraft were "highly likely" to have perpetrated the attack and that a Russian plane was also suspected of being involved. "However, the board did not have access to raw data to support these assertions and, in their absence, it was unable to draw a definitive conclusion," the inquiry reported. Russia and Syria have denied involvement in the bombing. The board of inquiry, led by retired Indian general Abhijit Guha, was not allowed to visit the scene of the attack in Urem al-Kubra, but it did travel to Syria in early December.

The UN has approved a resolution to set up a panel to gather evidence of possible war crimes in Syria. Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari said the resolution was illegal and a threat to a solution to the conflict. The 193-member body adopted a resolution Wednesday by a vote of 105 to 15 with 52 abstentions. Iran, China and Russia ... Read More »

UN: nearly one million Syrians live under siege

The UN aid chief has raised the alarm for nearly one million people living under siege in war-torn Syria. The number has more than doubled in the past six months. The UN under-secretary general for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O'Brien told the UN Security Council that 974,080 people were currently living under siege in Syria. That number stood at just under 487,000 six months ago. Since July, 275,000 more people have reportedly come under siege in eastern Aleppo alone, where government forces have been making advances against rebels. In eastern Aleppo, O'Brien said, humanitarian conditions had worsened "from terrible to terrifying and now barely survivable." New areas that have reportedly come under siege in the past weeks and months include Joubar near Damascus, al-Hajar al-Aswad, Khan al-Shih, and multiple locales in the enclave of eastern Ghutah east of Damascus. "Civilians are being isolated, starved, bombed and denied medical attention and humanitarian assistance in order to force them to submit or flee. It is a deliberate tactic of cruelty to compound a people's suffering for political, military and in some cases economic gain," O'Brien said, adding that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad aim was to destroy and defeat a civilian population that cannot defend itself. Situation particularly hopeless in Aleppo O'Brien's assessment built on growing international concern over the fate of Aleppo in particular, where 250,000 people continue to be trapped in the east of the city under a government siege, as Assad's military appears to advance. The prospect of Aleppo's recapture by government forces would be the biggest victory for the regime in the country's brutal five-year conflict. A European diplomat told the Agence France Presse news agency (AFP) that the Syrian government's capture of east Aleppo appeared to be only a matter of time: "Now, it's just a question of how long they (rebel forces) can hold on," the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "There is nothing to eat, no more hospitals and the bombardment is non-stop. They are under very strong pressure." Rebel forces have steadily been losing ground since Syrian ally Russia decided to intervene Russia decided to intervene in the conflict last year in order to boost Assad's government. Aleppo has been ravaged by the conflict that began with anti-government protests in March 2011. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of informants on the ground in Syria, said that more than 100 civilians had been killed in east Aleppo in the past week alone, including at least 15 who died in regime air strikes, barrel bomb attacks and artillery fire. Meanwhile rebels were also reported to have fired rockets onto government-held west Aleppo, killing 10 people including eight children on the weekend. No progress in sight UN envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura meanwhile finished a visit to Damascus after the Syrian government rebuffed his plan for a truce in Aleppo that included opposition administration of eastern areas. "We told him that we reject that completely," Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said about the negotiations. De Mistura warned that time was "running out" for east Aleppo, pointing out that there was concern about "an acceleration of military activities" in the city. US President Barack Obama also said he was "not optimistic about the short-term prospects in Syria." The long road to justice Meanwhile the US on Monday named 13 Syrian generals and officers accused of leading attacks on civilian targets, with its UN ambassador Samantha Power warning they would come to face justice one day. "The United States will not let those who have commanded units involved in these actions hide anonymously behind the facade of the Assad regime," Power told the Security Council, stressing that the United States also knows places where torture allegedly takes place in Syria. "I know right now, today, with wind at their backs, these individuals feel impunity," Power said, while reminding them that others who felt the same way in the past included Bosnian Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic and Liberian president Charles Taylor, who were eventually arrested and brought before the International Criminal Court (ICC). Power also said the United States was aware that opposition groups and so-called "Islamic State" (IS) extremists had also committed abuses, but didn't identify any individuals.

The UN aid chief has raised the alarm for nearly one million people living under siege in war-torn Syria. The number has more than doubled in the past six months. The UN under-secretary general for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien told the UN Security Council that 974,080 people were currently living under siege in Syria. That number ... Read More »

UN committee votes to initiate process that would outlaw nuclear weapons

The measure now goes for a vote before the UN General Assembly, probably sometime in early December. A majority of members may vote to support the resolution but Security Council members are expected to block it. A UN General Assembly committee voted overwhelmingly Thursday to support a resolution that would ultimately outlaw nuclear weapons, but many nuclear-armed nations opposed the measure. The disarmament and international security committee saw 123 countries vote in favor of the measure, while 38 opposed it and 16 abstained. Four of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom and France- opposed the resolution, while China abstained. Despite the opposition, the measure sponsored by Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, Nigeria and South Africa will now head to the full General Assembly, where a vote is expected in December. The resolution calls for convening a conference in March 2017 to negotiate a "legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination." Eliminating nuclear weapons Anti-nuclear groups hailed the landmark vote, in the struggle to eliminate nuclear weapons, said Beatriz Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). "Today's vote demonstrates very clearly that a majority of the world's nations consider the prohibition of nuclear weapons to be necessary, feasible and urgent," Fihn said. "They view it as the most viable option for achieving real progress on disarmament." Fihn acknowledged that the vote is unlikely to persuade nuclear powers to surrender their atomic weapons, but she said it would help stigmatize the weapons in much the same way as has been done with land mines and cluster bombs. Japan, which has long campaigned against the use of nuclear weapons, nonetheless voted against the resolution, as did South Korea, which faces a potentially existential threat from North Korea. In 2009 US President Barack Obama called for the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons, but the US is not expected to pursue the effort through the UN. Opponents argued that nuclear disarmament should be addressed through negotiations on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Since 2013 three international conferences have considered the humanitarian impact of the use of nuclear weapons and earlier this year a working group on nuclear disarmament was also convened.

The measure now goes for a vote before the UN General Assembly, probably sometime in early December. A majority of members may vote to support the resolution but Security Council members are expected to block it. A UN General Assembly committee voted overwhelmingly Thursday to support a resolution that would ultimately outlaw nuclear weapons, but many nuclear-armed nations opposed the ... Read More »

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