Ban Ki-moon urges ‘incremental’ progress in deadlocked disarmament arena

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses 2008 Disarmament Commission Session [File Photo]

7 April 2008 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged United Nations Member States to reverse the setbacks of recent years in controlling the threats posed by weapons of mass destruction and conventional weapons – by reaching consensus on even small steps forward.

“Small steps forward are still steps forward,” Mr. Ban said as he opened the annual three-week session of the UN Disarmament Commission, a subsidiary body of the General Assembly.

Last year, he called the lack of progress in the area “unacceptable,” citing the failure of the 2005 review conference of Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament and the need for new impetus for the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

To break the deadlocks, he asked delegations to be flexible and not to insist on achieving all of their objectives: “I believe that incremental progress in this institution can have positive spillover effects across the UN’s disarmament machinery,” he said.

“It can also help in cultivating a positive climate for addressing disarmament issues in other multilateral forums, including those dealing with treaty regimes,” he added.

Any progress achieved can be contagious, he maintained, not just in the area of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, but also in the pursuit of “practical confidence-building measures” in the field of conventional weapons.

He granted that the international community has made some progress in addressing the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, but said that new conventional-weapon issues are emerging, while old problems still demand solutions.

“The fact that conventional arms continue to kill many thousands of people every year is often overlooked, except, of course, by the States and individuals suffering most from this bloodshed,” he said.

The issue was one that struck to the very heart of the UN as an institution. “Failure is not an option,” he stressed. “Its consequences could well jeopardize many other goals of the Charter and the security and well-being of all our Member States.”


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