UNITED NATIONS, Sept 21 – Malaysia joins the chorus of call for global elimination of nuclear weapons by signing a treaty in the on going 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York yesterday.
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman signed on behalf of Malaysia in the “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons”, sending a strong political message that nuclear weapons are unacceptable.
By signing it also Malaysia joins other States from the international community in calling for the “complete and total elimination as soon as possible”, according to a statement issued by the ministry.
“This treaty is legally sound, feasible to implement, and strengthens the global norms against nuclear weapons. The treaty is inclusive, with pathways open for other states to become a party in the future.
“It is hoped that the political and legal impact of this treaty on nuclear disarmament will provide the much needed direction for further initiatives aimed at the elimination of nuclear weapons and the maintenance of a world free of nuclear weapons,” the statement added.
The treaty was the outcome of two conference sessions that were called to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons leading towards their total elimination from Mar 27 to 31 and June 15 to July 7 this year at the UN in New York.
The conference was attended by UN member States and representatives of civil society organisations. Malaysia had played a constructive role throughout the negotiations on the treaty, including working with other States to further refine the language of Articles 5 to 7 of the Treaty on National Implementation, Victim Assistance and Environmental Remediation, and International Cooperation and Assistance.
Malaysia also had suggested several constructive amendments to further strengthen provisions under Article 11 (Settlement of Disputes) and Article 18 (Relationship with other agreements) of the treaty, the statement revealed.
“By signing this treaty, Malaysia reaffirms its unwavering commitment and support for the longstanding principle of general and complete disarmament, in particular nuclear disarmament and measures towards achieving a nuclear weapons-free world.
“It is our hope that other States will also sign this Treaty, and that all will work together towards its entry into force, which is when 50 States submit their instrument of ratification,” it added.
The treaty was mooted in the 70th UN general assembly in 2015 where a resolution titled “Taking Forward Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations” was adopted.
It mandated the convening of an Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) in 2016 to discuss effective legal measures, legal provisions and norms needed to attain a world without nuclear weapons.
In response to the recommendations in the OEWG report, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 71/258 on Dec 23 last year of the same title, which calls for the convening of the two negotiation conference sessions in New York this year.
The first session from Mar 27 to 31 served as an avenue for UN member States to suggest the framework, issues and concerns the treaty should address. Based on the inputs, the first draft of the treaty was released on May 22 and served as the basis for discussion for the second session of the conference from June 15 to July 7.
The Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) were of the view that the treaty did not add value and will be counter-productive towards nuclear disarmament. The NWS remain convinced that the nuclear disarmament should be conducted through a step-by-step approach.
The Treaty contains 20 articles that cover the pertinent aspects relating to the issue of nuclear weapons prohibition – such as prohibitions, declarations, safeguards, measures of elimination, victim assistance and environmental remediation, international cooperation and assistance, meeting of State Parties, amendments, and settlement of disputes.
Despite the overwhelming desire to adopt the treaty by consensus, it was put to a vote at the request of the Netherlands on July 7 and a total of 122 member states, including Malaysia, voted in favour of the adoption, 1 voted against and 1 abstained.
Following the adoption of the treaty, representatives of the United States, United Kingdom and France issued a joint statement stating that they “do not intend to sign, ratify, or even be party to the treaty.”