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Published on October 14th, 2016 | by PAX No Nukes

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Dutch parliament to government: Vote yes to start negotiations on a nuclear ban

In a series of written questions presented by Dutch MPs to the government, the majority of political parties have reaffirmed their support for the start of negotiations of a new legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons and lead to their elimination. The moment for Dutch Foreign Minister Koenders to act is now: at the UN General Assembly (UNGA), a resolution (L.41) was submitted by over 30 States to negotiate an international treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons in 2017, and the vote will take place at the end of this month.

The parliament went on to ask if the government is willing to be a co-sponsor of this resolution to start negotiations on a new treaty banning nuclear weapons in 2017, and if not, why not- especially given the motions passed by the majority of parliament. These motions clearly called on the government to support the start of negotiations on a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons leading to their elimination (Servaes et al) and to participate actively in such negotiations (Sjoerdsma).

Recognising that the vote will be coming soon, Parliamentarians requested a response from government on these questions by 21 October. (We will post an update as soon as the responses are available.)


The questions are below (unofficial translation).

Written questions from Sjoerdsma (D66/Liberal Democrats), Servaes (PvdA/Labour Party in government), Van Bommel (SP/Socials Party), Voordewind (CU/Christian Union), Grashoff (GroenLinks/Green Party), Thieme (PvdD) en Öztürk (Groep Kuzu/Öztürk) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs on the participation in the negotiations on an international treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons.

  1. Do you remember the adopted motions Servaes et al on “effective measures, including the start of negotiations on an international treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons?”[1] and motion Sjoerdsma et al on Dutch participation in international negotiations of such a treaty?[2]
  1. Do you understand that, due to the adopted motions, a majority of Parliament expected the Netherlands would have voted yes on the OEWG report, which includes among others a recommendation to start negotiating a new legally binding instrument prohibiting and eliminating nuclear weapons?[3]
  2. Could you specially elaborate why the Netherlands could not support paragraph 67 of the OEWG report, which includes this recommendation? Could you indicate why this paragraph “detracted from years of work” and undermined “both the whole NPT regime as well as the Dutch policy of the last 25 years”, as stated in the recent written discussion on the UNGA?
  1. Isn’t it the case that in the final [OEWG] report there is deliberate inclusion of differences of opinion between the countries participating in the OEWG on the value of other measures for non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament?
  2. Could you provide more insight into the developments in the discussion on this issue within NATO? In what way has the Netherlands attempted to build bridges between NATO countries and other participants at the OEWG?
  3. Are you aware that, at the moment at the UNGA, there is a resolution submitted by Austria, Ireland, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa and Nigeria to negotiate, at the UN, an international treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons in 2017? Are you willing to co-sponsor this resolution? If not, why not, and how does it then related to the adopted motion Servaes et al?
  4. At the voting sessions on submitted resolutions at the UNGA, are you willing to vote in favour of the resolution submitted by Austria, Ireland, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa and Nigeria to negotiate, at the UN, an international treaty banning nuclear weapons in 2017? If not, why not, and how does it then related to the adopted motion Servaes et al?
  5. Do you share our prognosis that the resolution will most likely be adopted by a majority of countries at the UNGA?
  6. If this is indeed the case, and there will truly be a conference in 2017 on a nuclear weapons ban treaty, do you still intend to participate in accordance with the motion Sjoerdsma et al at this international meeting?
  7. Are you willing to answer these questions no later than October 21, meaning even before the actual vote on the resolution proposing to negotiate an international treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons in 2017?

[1] Tweede Kamer, vergaderjaar 2015–2016, 34 419, nr. 11, 28 april 2016.

[2] Tweede Kamer, vergaderjaar 2014–2015, 33 783, nr. 19, 23 april 2015.

[3] Tweede Kamer, vergaderjaar 2015–2016, 26 150, nr. 156, 19 september 2016.

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