International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons

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Pressure from DU producers and users slows DU treaty campaign

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) has submitted a new resolution on uranium weapons to the United Nations First Committee. If passed, in voting early in November, it will then be voted on by the United Nations General Assembly early in December. Read on to find out how you can help.
23 October 2008 - ICBUW

ICBUW campaigners pushed hard for the text to include a request for a general moratorium on the use of uranium in all conventional weapons, until such time as long-term health and environmental studies on the impact of uranium weapons are complete. However, increasing pressure from some NATO members, coupled with growing unease among DU users and producers forced the text to be weakened. In spite of their efforts, the resolution will keep the issue alive in the UN system for the next two years.

The NAM’s draft resolution contains a request for states to continue submitting reports to the Secretary General, a process begun by 2007’s landslide resolution, which has already seen several calls for a moratorium and ban submitted. It also calls on relevant international organisations, in this case the IAEA, WHO and UNEP, to update and complete their studies and research into uranium weapons. Many states are using the positions of the IAEA and WHO as justification for inaction; in spite of the fact that the WHO’s position on uranium weapons is out of date and lacks key peer-reviewed papers. Meanwhile UNEP is yet to publish its full report on the effects of uranium contamination in Iraq; and the IAEA is still pursuing its original brief of promoting nuclear power, which means it cannot at the moment admit any dangers from either the radiological or chemical toxicity of uranium.

However, one welcome aspect of the new text is a shift in focus towards states affected by uranium weapons; the text urges those that have yet to submit reports to do so, and to facilitate research by the UN’s agencies.

If the resolution is passed, the issue will return to the UN in two year’s time. Campaigners across the world, but particularly within the EU have until then to make this a major issue for their governments. Last year’s vote highlighted differences within the EU between those that supported action – however cautious, and those that abstained or voted against.

There is also a marked difference between the position of many EU governments and the position of European Parliamentarians, 94% of whom backed a resolution calling for action on uranium weapons earlier this year. But EU states openly admit that domestic pressure from campaigners will have a large impact on their positions.

The next two years will be crucial for our campaign; the stakes are getting significantly higher but the outcome will be worth it. All we need is people power.

Take Action!
Shout The passage of this resolution is by no means assured, at either the First Committee level or General Assembly. We need you to write to your Foreign Minister and urge them to support this text.

For the First Committee vote, contact them by November 1st. For the General Assembly vote – by December 1st. To see how they voted last year, please visit:

Of great importance are those states that abstained last year and who might be persuaded to back a resolution this year: Albania, Andorra, Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Micronesia (Federated States of), Moldova, Norway, Palau, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Tajikistan, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine.