U.N. member states have voted overwhelmingly on a measure that could lead to a ban on nuclear weapons.
On Thursday, the U.N. Disarmament and International Security Committee voted to approve a resolution that calls for negotiations on a new treaty outlawing nuclear weapons, despite opposition from nuclear-armed nations.
"This treaty won't eliminate nuclear weapons overnight. But it will establish a powerful, new international legal standard, stigmatizing nuclear weapons and compelling nations to take urgent action on disarmament,” Beatriz Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said.
Fihn said the vote was a "historic moment" even though convincing countries to eliminate their nuclear weapons will be very difficult.
The non-binding resolution, presented by Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Nigeria, Mexico and South Africa was approved by a vote of 123 to 38, with 16 abstentions.
Nuclear powers had lobbied for "no" votes.
Who voted against it
The United States, Israel, France, Russia and Britain were among the nations voting against the measure. China, India and Pakistan abstained.
U.N. members will meet in December to vote on the resolution during a full general assembly.
The resolution also aims to set up a conference next March to negotiate a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading toward their total elimination.”
Countries in favor of the resolution cited deep concerns about the "catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons."
Nations against the measure say nuclear disarmament should be discussed during negotiations on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
This resolution came after three international conferences that took place in 2013 and discussions by a working group on nuclear disarmament in 2016 that recognized the humanitarian effects of nuclear weapons.