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"Forget the Rest" blog


For immediate release 12/10/14

Forty-four countries call for explicit nuclear weapons ban at third major diplomatic conference

In dramatic announcement, Austria pledges to help lead ban effort

Contact: Greg Mello, (for phone please email to arrange)

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) press release here

ICAN statement at the Vienna Conference here

Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons documents

Vienna, Austria – Austria, at the conclusion of a special fact-finding conference attended by the foreign ministries of 158 countries in the historic

Hofburg Palacepledged to help lead a new international effort to ban nuclear weapons.1

At the conference some forty-four countries expressed explicit support for a treaty to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons.2   His Holiness Pope Francis sent a special message to the assembled diplomats, calling for a ban on nuclear weapons.

Negotiations for such a ban would be, as many foreign ministries said, “open to all and blockable by none.” 

Many states expressed impatience with the lack of disarmament progress.  Many states rejected, in one way or another, the permanent validity of security doctrines based on nuclear deterrence.  Virtually all states expressed revulsion at the disproportionate and indiscriminate effects of nuclear weapons in one way or another, which technical and legal experts had reviewed for the assembled diplomats. 

The Chair’s official summary of the meeting is here

In its unexpected pledge, read out at the very end of the conference, Austria promised to “fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons” and “to cooperate with all stakeholders to achieve this goal.”

The conference was attended by about 800 diplomats and 200 experts and activists from civil society.  It was held at the former Habsburg palace where Austrian Prince Metternich once led negotiations to draw the boundaries of states at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. 

This conference followed, and built upon, prior diplomatic and civil society meetings in Oslo (2013) and Nayarit, Mexico (February 2014).

The Vienna Conference was immediately proceeded by a 600-person civil society forum organized by the Austrian branch of ICAN. 

ICAN is a campaign coordinating umbrella for the efforts of 360 organizations in 93 countries, all of whom seek a prohibition on research, production, stockpiling, transfer, and use of nuclear weapons.  The Los Alamos Study Group is an active member of ICAN. 

Our colleague Dr. Rebecca Johnson has penned two useful background articles of interest: “Gathering Speed to Ban Nuclear Weapons" (12/8/14) and "Nuclear survivors' testimony: from Hell to Hope" (12/9/14).

Comments upon these marvelous and unprecedented events are available upon request.  Please email us and we will respond.


1 China attended as an “observer,” making 159 states.

2 These states are Austria, Bangladesh, Brazil, Burundi, Chad, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea Bissau, Holy See, Indonesia, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Philippines, Qatar, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Senegal, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, Timor Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Uruguay, Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

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