Dutch Parliament: the Netherlands needs to negotiate an international nuclear weapons ban treaty

As a result of the citizen’s initiative by PAX,  ASN Bank and the Dutch Red Cross, the Dutch Parliament today held a debate on a national ban on nuclear weapons. The result was that a vast majority of the House wants the Netherlands to start working internationally for a nuclear weapons ban. Minister of Foreign Affairs Koenders  agreed to adhere to the wishes of the House at the UN meeting on nuclear disarmament which will take place next week (the Open Ended Working Group)

PAX Campaigner Krista van Velzen welcomes the step that is now being taken. “Up until now the Government didn’t think the time was right to negotiate a ban on nuclear weapons. Today the Minister stated he would now actively pursue this. From now on the Netherlands will plead for start of these negotiations. This is a big step forward.”

Small steps
Five political parties sided with the citizen’s  initiative of PAX to implement a national ban. Other parties advocated smaller steps, such as making the  agreements between the United States and the Netherlands, based on which the nuclear weapons now are deployed in the Netherlands public. Votes on these motions are scheduled on May 17.

Decision time
45.608 Dutch citizens signed to support a ban and wanted to show their support at Parliament. The public gallery was so crowded, that another room was needed to provide all supporters with a seat. In her speech Krista van Velzen stated that the time has come for the Government to make a decision: either the Netherlands are in favour of nuclear disarmament or they will hold on to nuclear weapons as long as they exist. Globally there are 115 countries that have banned this weapon of mass destruction, and 139 countries want to negotiate a ban. If the government doesn’t take a decision, it will be isolated in the world.”

Put on the agenda
Krista van Velzen is satisfied with the way the debate went. “Virtually all parties want to take steps. This is partly due to all the signatories of the initiative. Together we made sure that a nuclear ban was put on the agenda. We will continue to work until an actual ban is realised.”

[Photo: Steven Snoep]