Explanation of Vote in the First Committee on Resolution L.28: “Nuclear-Weapon-Free Southern Hemisphere and Adjacent Areas”

Ambassador Robert Wood
U.S. Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament
New York City
October 27, 2017


Mr. Chairman, I am speaking on behalf of the United Kingdom, France, and the United States with regards to draft resolution L.28, “Nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere and adjacent areas.”

We would like to emphasise the importance we attach to the development, where appropriate, of internationally recognized nuclear-weapon-free-zones. Such zones can be an important contribution to regional and global security, provided that they are established as set out in the 1999 UNDC guidelines. In particular, they must be freely arrived at by all States of the region concerned; verified inter aliathrough comprehensive safeguards applied by the International Atomic Energy Agency; and concluded in consultation with the Nuclear-Weapon States.

Mr Chairman,

We continue to believe that it is contradictory to propose the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone that would be composed largely of the high seas, while simultaneously claiming that it would be fully consistent with applicable principles and rules of international law, including those of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, relating to the freedom of the high seas and the right of passage through maritime space. It appears to us that the real goal of this draft resolution is the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone covering the high seas. We do not believe that this ambiguity has been sufficiently clarified.

Finally, we note that this year’s resolution welcomes the adoption of the text of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Neither we nor any nuclear weapons state or nuclear weapon possessing state participated in the negotiation of this Treaty, which we oppose. For these reasons, we voted against the draft resolution.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.