UNODA UPDATE (September 2007)

Marking Hiroshima anniversary, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
called for elimination of nuclear weapons


Doves released into the air as part of the Hiroshima anniversary ceremonies on 6 August 2007 fly past the Atomic Bomb Dome. (AP)

On 6 August, on the 62nd anniversary of the first-ever atomic bomb attack, which devastated the Japanese city of Hiroshima, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the occasion served as a “powerful reminder” of the efforts necessary to halt nuclear proliferation. “Today, our challenge – as it was for the founders of the United Nations – is to make the world safer for succeeding generations,” Mr. Ban said in a message, delivered by Sergio de Queiroz Duarte, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, to the Peace Memorial Ceremony in Japan. “This requires us to continue to work towards a world free of nuclear dangers, and ultimately, of nuclear weapons.” The Secretary-General stressed the pressing problems, and noted that the nuclear threat has been compounded by terrorists’ attempts to acquire weapons and materials.


Stalemate on ‘life and death matters’ is unacceptable,
says Secretary-General in remarks to UN Advisory Board

Secretary-General's meeting with members of his Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters at its 48th session, 16-18 July 2007

Addressing the United Nations Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters (which had its 48th session on 16-18 July at UN Headquarters), UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon deplored the lack of success of recent meetings and conferences on disarmament: “The existing stalemate on these life and death matters is simply unacceptable,” he stated. “We need to break it through far-reaching ideas and a renewed political will that would propel us forward.” he added.  In opening remarks that covered a wide range of issues related to disarmament and non-proliferation, Sergio Duarte, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs told the Board: “The disappointing outcomes of the 2005 World Summit and the 2005 NPT Review Conference were both symptoms of a deeper malaise in the world today over the credibility, effectiveness and fairness of existing international initiatives to promote disarmament and non-proliferation.”  Among its recommendations, the Advisory Board encouraged the Secretary-General, as one way to advance the disarmament and non-proliferation agenda, to continue his efforts to raise awareness of these issues among Governments, media, civil society, academia and the general public.  The Board also suggested the United Nations strengthen its cooperation with regional organizations to advance the disarmament agenda.

Secretary-General’s remarks to the Advisory Board High Representative’s
remarks to the Advisory Board
Disarmament Advisory
Board webpage

New Unit Created to Help World’s Effort against Biological Weapon Threat


United Nations Office at Geneva

Remarks by the High Representative Implementation Support
Unit webpage

A Biological Weapons Convention Implementation Support Unit (ISU), based in the Geneva Branch of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, was officially inaugurated on 20 August.  The Sixth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention in December 2006 had decided to establish an ISU to assist States parties in their efforts to strengthen the implementation of the Convention and reduce the threat posed by biological weapons. The decision was a landmark in the history of the international community’s efforts against biological weapons, as the Convention itself has no provision for institutional support. At the launching ceremony, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Sergio Duarte, encouraged States parties to support this initiative:  “Much of the mandate of the Unit is concerned with facilitating communication among States parties and, upon request, facilitating contacts with scientific and academic institutions, as well as non-governmental organizations.  The Unit will also serve as a central clearinghouse for information relating to confidence-building measures.  Clearly, the more States parties make use of such services, the better they will work,” he said.


Steady Efforts to Break Longstanding Deadlock at Conference on Disarmament


Salle du Conseil, United Nations Office at Geneva

High Representative
address to CD

In Geneva, the intensive work undertaken by the Conference on Disarmament (CD) during the first of its three terms for the 2007 session culminated in a new proposal for breaking its longstanding deadlock.  The CD's decade-long impasse stems essentially from disagreement over what its negotiating priorities should be.  The latest proposal, submitted by a collegium of the six Presidents of the CD for 2007, sought to address the problem through appointing seven coordinators to lead work in a graduated manner on the main issues.  Under this approach, negotiations would be conducted on circumscribing the production of a key ingredient of nuclear weapons, fissile materials.  On three other core issues - negative security assurances, nuclear disarmament and preventing an arms race in outer space - the coordinators would preside over "substantive discussions".  The new proposal drew almost universal support.

Despite these intensive efforts, no agreement was reached on the proposal by the end of the Conference's session. Nevertheless, the general view was that remarkable progress had been made this year which gave hope for next year's work. The President of the Conference, Ambassador Khabbaz Hamoui of the Syrian Arab Republic would work with the six Presidents of the 2008 session before it starts in January in order to maintain the positive momentum and to work towards agreement on a programme of work. The conference concluded on 13 September with the adoption of report of its 2007 session.


Group of Experts on Small Arms Brokering Submits Recommendations


Group of Governmental Experts on Brokering, Third Session: 4-8 June 2007, New York

UNODA webpage on
small arms brokering

The Report of the Group of Governmental Experts on illicit brokering in small arms and light weapons (SALW) will be on line shortly.  Its recommendations will be considered by the First Committee of the General Assembly in October.  The Report notes that unregulated and poorly regulated arms brokering activities may result in transactions that increase the risk that arms are diverted to conflict-prone areas and embargoed entities, as well as to organized criminal and terrorist groups.  Some 40 States have already enacted national regulations to control arms brokering transactions.  The Report encourages the States which have not already done so to develop adequate national laws, regulations and administrative procedures to control SALW brokering activities. It encourages the States to voluntarily cooperate with other States in law enforcement efforts to investigate illicit brokering activities in SALW. Given the persistent violation of United Nations arms embargoes by international trafficking networks involving illicit SALW brokering activities, the Report also encourages States to take immediate steps to implement and enforce within their jurisdiction all arms embargoes and sanctions decided by the United Nations Security Council, including the imposition of penalties in national law for the illicit brokering of small arms and light weapons in violation of such arms embargoes.


Webpage Brings Together States’ Views on a Possible Arms Trade Treaty



Access ATT


UNODA created webpages on a possible “Arms Trade Treaty” (ATT). By resolution 61/89 of 6 December 2006, the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to seek the views of Member States on the feasibility, scope and draft parameters for a comprehensive, legally-binding instrument establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms. More than 90 States have submitted their views which are now available on line.


Webpages Feature Disarmament Education Resources


Disarmament Education homepage

New webpages were recently added on UNODA website (on to facilitate public access to existing documents, materials and weblinks related to peace, disarmament and non-proliferation education.  It contains the 2002 Study on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Education and biennial reports on its follow-up, links to webpages and publications of UN bodies, and a selection of valuable non-UN resources.