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Finland a no-show at UN nuclear ban negotiations

Finland believes the proposed nuclear ban would weaken existing regulations. Finland isn't the only absentee – not a single nuclear-armed state will participate either.

Pakistanin armeija esittelee ydinkärkeä sotilasparaatissa Islamabadissa.
Nuclear missile in Pakistan. File photo. Image: EPA

Today, Thursday kicks off three-week-long negotiations at the UN headquarters in New York, with the ultimate goal of settling "a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination". The new agreement, which has been under preparation for months, would place nuclear armaments on the same legal footing as other weapons of mass destruction.

The pursuit of nuclear disarmament faces one significant hurdle: not a single country with nuclear weapons is participating in the negotiations. Finland and the majority of EU countries have also announced they will be absent.

Jarmo Viinanen, Senior Adviser for arms control affairs at the Foreign Ministry says Finland is reluctant to participate in negotiations which would inevitably result in nothing.

Official: Proposed ban weaker than existing agreements

Despite the no-show of nuclear powers, the UN insists on going through with the negotiations, and the treaty does not require approval by the UN Security Council. If accepted, the treaty would still affect nuclear-armed states through its "normative force" even if they refuse to sign it.

Viinanen says the absence of nuclear powers is a sign that the treaty would not actually decrease the number of nuclear weapons in the world, and might even be detrimental to the implementation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

According to Viinanen, the nuclear ban treaty is weaker than existing agreements, and would in its current form erode current regulations.

"This is not a protest. Finland’s standing is that any treaties should actually result in the world becoming a safer place," Viinanen says.

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