Sixty-four months may not be long in the inexorable march of time. For me,
however, they have been rich and fulfilling months spent in the service of
the United Nations
as the first Under-Secretary-General to head the Department of Disarmament Affairs (DDA) after its re-establishment in 1998.
Encouraged by the Secretary-General's consistent and principled approach to the United Nations' role in disarmament affairs, it was possible to articulate clear positions on the non-proliferation and total elimination of weapons of mass destruction and on the regulation of conventional weapons strictly commensurate with national security needs. We have together advocated the strengthening and universalization of existing norms and assisted in the creation of new norms where they did not exist. Despite acute budgetary constraints, lack of adequate office space, unreceptive bureaucratic attitudes towards the cause of disarmament and other problems, DDA has grown in strength and influence.
DDA's achievements have gone well beyond the accomplishment of the normal mandates entrusted to it - the efficient servicing of conferences and meetings, providing expert advice to the Secretary-General and Member States, the publications and occasional papers, outreach to civil society and the general public, as well as other mundane issues which are time consuming and yet require expertise and diligence. Surpassing the expectations of those who supported the re-establishment of DDA, we took many fresh initiatives, including the revitalization of our Regional Centres; frequent lunchtime seminars and expert panels on disarmament topics; piloting the "weapons-for-development" model for small arms collection and destruction in Albania; the venture into disarmament and non-proliferation education; and the involvement of Michael Douglas as a Messenger of Peace in the advocacy for disarmament.
In the managerial and human resources realm, DDA was the first Department to incorporate a Work/Life concept into its everyday working environment. Furthermore, it was the first Department to develop a Gender Action Plan, which will serve as a working tool for staff to incorporate a gender perspective in each of their substantive activities.
All this was possible through team work within this small Department, with
all staff members working with a strong commitment for a very special cause.
To the delegations of Member States and the NGOs who cooperated and supported
DDA over this period, I extend my warm thanks. Disarmament will remain a
priority for the United Nations and for the world.