South Africa has welcomed a United Nations resolution on the treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons.

“South Africa welcomes the adoption on Oct 27, 2016 of a resolution entitled ‘Taking forward multilateralism nuclear disarmament negotiations’ by a Committee of the UN General Assembly responsible for disarmament and international security,” said the Department of International Relations and Co-operation here over the weekend.

The resolution, which will be tabled for adoption at the General Assembly in December, recommends the convening of a conference early in 2017 to negotiate a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons, leading to their total elimination.

The department said the decision was a historic one and in line with the aims and objectives of the very first resolution adopted by the General Assembly 70 years ago, the nuclear disarmament obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), as well as the provisions of the Pelindaba Treaty, which has already established Africa as a zone free from nuclear weapons.

Two-thirds of the UN member states present and voting, supported the resolution, which provides evidence of the commitment of the vast majority of the world to heed the call by the outgoing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to eliminate the threat posed by nuclear weapons to the survival of the planet.

This decision is particularly important at a time of increased international tension that increases the risk of the use of these weapons, whether by accident or on purpose.

“While some of the States possessing nuclear weapons oppose the idea of a nuclear weapons prohibition on the basis of complexities in the international security environment, South Africa shares the view of the vast majority of states that this situation compels us to act now,” said the department.

“South Africa together with its partners from Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico and Nigeria played a key role in securing a positive vote on the resolution. This core group of countries received strong support from civil society groups and international organisations.

“South Africa also appreciates the support that the resolution received from the vast majority of African states.”

The negotiations on the treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons are expected to take place at the United Nations headquarters in New York during March and June 2017 and will be open to all States, as well as to civil society and international organizations