UN official calls for strengthening of multilateral disarmament system

5 April 2004 –

Strengthening the multilateral system for peace and security is the correct answer to growing international concerns about arms control and non-proliferation, the United Nations' most senior disarmament official said today.

Nobuyasu Abe, Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, told the annual opening of the UN Disarmament Commission (UNDC) at UN Headquarters in New York that the world is waiting for it "to come out with correct answers to the urgent questions we are facing."

He said the world now has to deal with "many new and persisting concerns," including the possibility that terrorists may acquire and use weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).

"There is frequent talk about a 'crisis' facing the multilateral system on disarmament, arms control, and non-proliferation," Mr. Abe said, adding the best response is to enhance, rather than discard, the multilateral mechanisms.

The UNDC suspended its formal debate today to allow for informal consultations over two issues of disagreement - nuclear disarmament and conventional arms disarmament. There are also concerns between nations about the appropriate role for the UN in disarmament.

The UNDC's Chairman, Revaz Adamia of Georgia, called for a "revitalized effort" to reach agreement given the current troubling times for disarmament. He cited the persisting national stockpiles of WMDs, the fear that others are trying to acquire them and growing military expenditure.

The UNDC, which is comprised of all General Assembly Member States and was founded in 1952, is charged with overseeing issues in the field of disarmament.

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