March 2007   

Proposed changes to DDA for advancing the disarmament agenda

Read Secretary-General’s letter and annexes

To strengthen the work of the UN in arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon proposed on 15 February a managerial reorganization of the Department of Disarmament Affairs (DDA) so as to create the “Department of Disarmament Affairs” (DDA), as a separate office in the Secretariat, with a separate budget section, and headed by a High Representative at the rank of Under-Secretary-General.  DDA will retain the current five Branches of DDA and will continue to implement existing mandates. It will provide substantive support for norm-setting in the area of disarmament through the work of the General Assembly and its First Committee, the Disarmament Commission, the Conference on Disarmament and other bodies. DDA’s work will be re-energized for simultaneous action on both disarmament and non-proliferation.  The High Representative’s functions will include advocacy of disarmament and non-proliferation issues with Member States and civil society, the promotion of multilateral efforts on disarmament and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, in particular nuclear weapons; and the promotion and support of disarmament efforts in the field of conventional disarmament, especially with regard to major weapons systems, small arms and light weapons and landmines.  These changes would enter into force following their approval by the General Assembly.

USG Nobuaki Tanaka to return to Japanese diplomacy

USG Nobuaki Tanaka

February 28 was Mr. Nobuaki Tanaka’s last day as Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs after nearly one year of tenure.  Mr. Tanaka will now pursue his career as a Japanese diplomat.  Prior to heading DDA, he had been serving as Ambassador of Japan to Pakistan. He served as Assistant Director-General of UNESCO (1994-1997) in charge of Management and Administration, as well as an Information Officer in the UN Department of Public Information (1980-1983). He served as a Senior Research Fellow at the International Institute of Peace Studies, Japan, working closely with former Prime Minister Nakasone for the Trilateral Commission.  He was also a professor at Doshisha Women’s College in Japan teaching security issues, including disarmament and non-proliferation (2002-2004).  At a farewell reception, the staff of DDA expressed its warm appreciation and its best wishes to Mr. Tanaka for his future undertakings.

UN Security Council addresses WMD acquisition by terrorists

UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras - Security Council Discusses Weapons of Mass Destruction - Ján Kubis, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Slovak Republic and President of the Security Council

After a day-long debate, the Security Council affirmed on 23 February its determination to promote increased multilateral cooperation -- particularly with international organizations -- as an important way to boost worldwide implementation of its three-year-old resolution 1540 (2004), which obligates all States to take measures to prevent non-State actors from acquiring or developing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and to prevent the general proliferation of these weapons. Last year, the Department of Disarmament Affairs organized three regional outreach seminars involving more than 70 participating countries on implementing resolution 1540, including the Asia-Pacific, African and Latin American and Caribbean regions.  “Such cooperation well illustrated how sustained multilateral cooperation could work to advance the national security interests of all States and the strengthening of international peace and security,” Under-Secretary-General Nobuaki Tanaka declared. More than 35 Government delegations, including all 15 Council members, took part in the debate.  Many of the speakers stressed their commitment to disarmament and non-proliferation, and particularly to keeping nuclear, chemical or biological weapons out of the hands of terrorist and criminal networks.

Read press release on the SC meeting

Read the USG Tanaka’s statement

Report of July 2006 UN seminar on SC resolution 1540


Secretary-General encouraged by Oslo Declaration envisioning cluster bombs treaty

UN Photo/Mark Garten - UN Blue Helmet Watches over Unexploded Bombs

At a conference on cluster bombs convened in Oslo on 22-23 February (by the Norwegian Government), nearly 50 States approved a declaration committing “to conclude by 2008 a legally binding international instrument that will prohibit the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians.” The Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released afterwards a statement saying: “The Secretary-General welcomes all progress to reduce and ultimately eliminate the horrendous humanitarian effects of these weapons. The Oslo process supplements the intense efforts under way to address the cruel impact of these weapons on civilians under the broad multilateral forum of States parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW).  Both processes have the same humanitarian objective.  In these circumstances, they should not be seen as in competition with one another but as complementary and mutually reinforcing.”
Read Oslo Declaration Read statement by SG’s spokesperson Read CCW declaration committing to address cluster munitions

The Latin American Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty pioneered 40 years ago

@United Nations Cartography - ECLAC Region
The Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean was adopted in 1967 in Mexico City.  This instrument has become a model that was followed by several other regional treaties creating nuclear-weapon-free zones in populated areas: the Treaty of Rarotonga (1986) in the South Pacific, the Pelindaba Treaty (1996) for the African continent, the Bangkok Treaty (1997) in South-East Asia and the treaty adopted in Semipalatinsk (2006) by five countries of Central Asia. In a message delivered in Mexico City by Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs Nobuaki Tanaka (at a ceremony celebrating this 40th anniversary on 14 February), Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “I hope this commemoration can help energize efforts to halt, and reverse, the spread of nuclear weapons. Together, we should work towards the day when all regions of the world are finally free of nuclear weapons.”
Read Secretary-General’s statement For more information

The Conference on Disarmament striving to overcome its deadlock

Conference on Disarmament Chamber

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The Conference on Disarmament (CD) began its 2007 session in Geneva amid new efforts to overcome its priority-setting deadlock of recent years. South Africa, the first of the six Presidents of the Conference for the year, followed the example of its 2006 counterpart, Poland, in engaging at the outset in extensive consultations aimed at developing an organizational framework that would at one and the same time serve both to intensify the CD's activities and also lay the ground-work for a phase of assessment after which the focus of Member States could be tightened on the issues regarded as most pressing. Throughout February and March each of the seven agenda items of the Conference is subjected to close examination conducted by coordinators designated by the six Presidents for 2007, culminating in a week-long evaluation in the final days of that month.  The programme for the second (14 May-29 June) of the three sessions of the CD for 2007 would only be set when the outcome of the evaluation phase is known. It is too early to judge whether a break-through will eventuate, but the level of engagement of Members is already strongly increased compared to 2006.


Group of experts seeking measures to enhance international cooperation in preventing, combating and eradicating the illicit brokering in small arms and light weapons

UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe - "Crush the Illicit Trade in Small Arms"
The webpage on the GGE
The group of governmental experts (GGE) to consider further steps to enhance international cooperation in preventing, combating and eradicating illicit brokering in small arms and light weapons will hold its second meetingin New York from 19-23 March. The GGE, established by General Assembly resolution 60/81 of 8 December 2005, is composed of 25 experts and chaired by Mr. Daniël Prins, Deputy Head of Mission at the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Conference on Disarmament.  Illicit brokering is one of the major obstacles to international efforts to combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and to ensure full implementation of UN arms embargoes.  Illicit brokers need not to be physically close to the shipments they facilitate; they tend to operate from anywhere in the world.  Currently, most countries have not yet developed adequate legislation to regulate the activities of brokers dealing in small arms and light weapons.  The GGE is studying the problem and will make recommendations that might encourage Governments to put in place appropriate national regulations and to improve international cooperation to combat illicit brokering activities.   The GGE will submit the report on the outcome of its study to the General Assembly at its sixty-second session.

The PrepCom for the 2010 NPT Review Conference to meet in Vienna (30 April - 11 May)

NPT2010 - PrepCom 2007 banner

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The Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) will hold its first session from 30 April to 11 May 2007 at the Austria Centre in Vienna. This meeting is the first of three sessions that will be held prior to the 2010 Review Conference.  The PrepCom, open to all States parties to the Treaty, will address substantive and procedural issues related to the Treaty and the upcoming Review Conference in 2010. The Chairman designate of the first session is Ambassador Yukiya Amano of Japan.  The NPT, which entered into force in 1970 and was extended indefinitely in 1995, requires that review conferences be held every five years. The Treaty was designed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to further the goal of nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament, and to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.