Date: Sat, 21 Jan 1995 15:53:32 GMT
Sender: Activists Mailing List <>
From: Rich Winkel <>
Organization: PACH
Subject: Disarmament Times Dec 1994
To: Multiple recipients of list ACTIV-L <>

** Topic: Disarmament Times Dec. 1994 **
** Written 6:47 AM Jan 7, 1995 by gale in cdp:disarm.ctb-npt **

Nuclear powers suffer set-backs in G.A. votes

By Jim Wurst, Disarmament Times, Vol.XVII no.7, 20 December 1994

Publisher: Omitted here is a table of the votes cast.

The more aggressive stand by Southern non-nuclear-weapon states in favor of rapid and specific steps towards nuclear disarmament — and the nuclear states opposition to these moves—were the dominant feature of the 49th General Assembly's votes on draft resolutions submitted by the First Committee.

Two trends are becoming more obvious: an increase in “no” votes by the nuclear powers and their allies and more divisive votes on some drafts with large numbers of negative votes and abstentions. In most cases, this is due to the fact that all of Europe including the states of the former Soviet Union—the industrialized North—has been voting mostly as a bloc.

The resolutions that created the most controversy were those aimed at curbing the use and urging the elimination of nuclear weapons. And there were more such resolutions. Five new items on the Committee's agenda dealt with nuclear weapons: step-by-step reductions of the nuclear threat, extension options for the Non-Proliferation Treaty, an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons, promotion of nuclear disarmament leading to the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons and the creation of a South Atlantic nuclear-weapon-free zone. All of them were opposed by the Western nuclear powers. (For details on the contents of the resolutions and the First Committee debate see DISARMAMENT TIMES, 22 November 1994.)

Another indicator of the division is the number of key resolutions adopted wit more than one third of the delegations — mainly from the North—voting no or abstaining. Once again, all of those drafts focused on nuclear disarmament: the NPT extension (103:40:25); the step-by-step plan (110:24:33);, the advisory opinion from the ICJ (78:43:38); and nuclear weapons in the Middle East (60:4:100).

The trend towards fewer resolutions and more of those adopted by consensus hit a set back this year. Of the 43 resolutions and two decisions adopted in 1994, 23 were by consensus. In contrast, in 1993, the tally was 44 to 26 and in 1992 it was 45 to 28.

Breaks With Routine

Standard practice in the G.A. is that it accepts committee recommendations o the draft resolutions already debated in committee, but the Western nuclear powers' hostility to the ICJ resolution led to a break with the routine when France made one final attempt to kill the draft. For the first time in decades, a motion of “no action” to stop a draft from coming to the floor was introduced, in this case by France. That attempt failed on a 58:68:26 vote. Next, France introduced a amendment to the draft which would have removed the word “urgently” from the paragraph requesting the advisory opinion. This time Indonesia, the sponsor of the original draft, introduced a “no action” motion on the French amendment. This motion was adopted 61:56:30, meaning the draft was voted upon in its original form. It was adopted 78:43:38.

There were other breaks with the tradition of the G.A. votes simply formalizing what the First Committee already recommended. One draft that was adopted by consensus in committee—the Mali-sponsored draft on curbing the illicit traffic in small arms — was voted on in the G.A. plenary. The United States abstained, while France did not participate. There were a few other switches in votes.

How the Nuclear Powers Voted

There are two obvious features of the voting patterns of the five nuclear weapon states, one old and one emerging. The old one is that the United States continues to cast the fewest positive votes of the five; the emerging one is that changes in Russian policies are drawing Moscow closer to the three Western powers. While the Soviet Union normally had cast no negative votes, this is the third straight year of increasing “no” votes by Russia. Russia voted against three resolutions, all of which involve constraints on nuclear weapons: the Amendment Conference, the ICJ opinion, and the NPT extension options. This was the first year Russia voted against the Amendment Conference resolution (it had abstained in the past, while the Soviet Union had supported it).

As has been the case in previous years, the United States cast the fewest yes votes (six). But France and the United Kingdom switched second and third places, with France voting yes seven times and the U.K. eight. The most yes votes were cast by China (19) and Russia (13). While China had the most “yes” votes, it did not participate in the voting three times, more often than the other four countries combined.

One of the most striking features is the increase in the “no” votes of the four Northern powers. While in 1993, 18 resolutions were voted on as compared to 22 this year, the votes on the additional resolutions by the four ended up in the “no” column. Since the new drafts on step-by-step and the NPT drew the negative votes, this is a clear demonstration of the nuclear powers' opposition to non- nuclear states' initiatives.