The United Nations General Assembly has passed, by a huge majority, a resolution requesting its agencies to update their positions on the health and environmental effects of uranium weapons.
The voting explained:
- Overwhelming majority of states support action on uranium weapons
- EU and NATO members split on the issue
- US, UK, Israel and France isolated
- UN Agencies forced to update positions on uranium weapons by 2010
- 141 vote in favour, 34 abstain, four vote against.
- Canada abstained.
The resolution, which had passed the First Committee stage on October 31st by 127 states to four, calls on three UN agencies - the World Health Organisation (WHO), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to update their positions on uranium weapons. The overwhelming support for the text reflects increasing international concern over the long-term impact of uranium contamination in post-conflict environments and military ranges.
In the 17 years since uranium weapons were first used on a large scale in the 1991 Gulf War, a huge volume of peer-reviewed research has highlighted previously unknown pathways through which exposure to uranium’s heavy metal toxicity and radioactivity may damage human health.
Throughout the world, parliamentarians have responded by supporting calls for a moratorium and ban, urging governments and the military to take a precautionary approach. However the WHO and IAEA have been slow to react to this wealth of new evidence and it is hoped that this resolution will go some way to resolving this situation.
|Until now, most research by UN member states has focused on exposure in veterans and not on the civilian populations living in contaminated areas.|