United Nations member states voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to approve a resolution calling for negotiations on a treaty that would outlaw nuclear weapons, despite strong opposition from nuclear-armed nations and their allies.
The vote in the U.N. Disarmament and International Security Committee saw 123 nations voting in favor of the resolution, 38 opposing and 16 abstaining. The resolution was sponsored by Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, Nigeria and South Africa.
The United States, Russia, Israel, France and the United Kingdom were among the countries voting against the measure.
The resolution now goes to a full General Assembly vote sometime in December.
The resolution aims to set up a conference in March 2017 to negotiate a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.”
Antinuclear groups hailed the vote as a landmark in the struggle to eliminate nuclear weapons.
“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. They view it as the most viable option for achieving real progress on disarmament,” said Beatriz Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.
Fihn said that while the vote is unlikely to convince nuclear-armed states to eliminate their nuclear stockpiles in the short-term, it will help stigmatize the weapons in much the same way as has been done with land mines and cluster bombs.
The resolution follows three international conferences, beginning in 2013, to consider the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons’ use, and discussions by a working group on nuclear disarmament in 2016.