UN disarmament bodies need to be revitalized, stress top officials

UN Photo/Martine Perret

2 April 2012 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the President of the General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, today called on Member States meeting in New York to work together to revitalize the main United Nations bodies tasked with advancing global disarmament goals.

“Progress is vitally needed because – directly or indirectly – it has the potential to benefit all other goals of the United Nations, just as the failure of disarmament efforts would jeopardize the security and prosperity of all,” Mr. Ban said in his message to the opening of the annual three-week session of the UN Disarmament Commission (UNDC).

The Commission, whose membership is universal, is a deliberative body mandated to make recommendations in the field of disarmament and to follow up the decisions and recommendations of the Assembly’s first special session devoted to disarmament, in 1978.

Mr. Ban’s message, delivered by the newly-appointed High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Angela Kane, noted that 2012 is a very important year for the Commission, as it marks the 60th anniversary of its establishment.

This year is also important, the message added, because the Commission is commencing a new three-year cycle of deliberations and is expected to consider “profoundly important” issues relating to nuclear disarmament and the regulation of conventional armaments.

Therefore, the Commission today has only one responsible course to follow, stated Mr. Ban.

“It must focus its deliberations on finding common ground for addressing current and emerging global challenges, ranging from the elimination of the deadliest weapons of mass destruction, to the reduction and limitation of conventional arms,” he said.

Over the years, the Commission has formulated consensus principles, guidelines and recommendations on a number of subjects. However, in the past decade, it has not been able to agree on a substantial outcome.

Coupled with the lack of progress in recent years within the UN Conference on Disarmament, the world’s sole multilateral disarmament negotiating forum, there is no doubt that the UN bodies comprising its disarmament machinery are currently at a crucial juncture, Assembly President Al-Nasser told the meeting.

“They face serious challenges imposed by a lack of political will and a growing resistance to initiative and compromise,” he said. “In the case of UNDC and the Conference on Disarmament, this has brought the work of both bodies to a stalemate for over a decade. This situation cannot, and indeed should not, be sustained.

“I cannot stress more the responsibility and opportunity we all share today to bring the disarmament machinery, including UNDC, back on track,” he added, noting that this can only be achieved with leadership, dedication to collective objectives, and compromise.


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