First Session of the General Assembly
First Session of the General Assembly

UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY: FOCUS ON DISARMAMENT

The General Assembly (GA) of the United Nations held its first session in 1946, and has convened annual sessions every year since then. The GA is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all Member States have equal representation. The very first resolution adopted by the GA in 1946 identified the goal of eliminating atomic weapons and all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction from national armaments.

General Assembly of the United Nations

Resolutions of the First GA Session

Statue - Good Defeats Evil Donated by the former Soviet Union
Statue - Good Defeats Evil
Donated by the former Soviet Union

UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY: FOCUS ON DISARMAMENT

The General Assembly begins its session in September of each year. The First Committee, which meets throughout the month of October, is one of six Main Committees of the General Assembly. The First Committee is responsible for all disarmament and related international security issues. The annual resolutions adopted by the First Committee and recommended to the General Assembly plenary enable the creation of new treaties and other international legal norms.

General Assembly and Disarmament

Disarmament Resolutions and Decisions Database

1965 - First Committee discusses non-proliferation of nuclear weapons
1965 - First Committee discusses non-proliferation
of nuclear weapons

UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY: FOCUS ON DISARMAMENT

1967: The General Assembly adopts resolution 2346 A (XXII), in which it requests the Eighteen-Nation Committee on Disarmament to present it with a full report on the negotiations on a nuclear non-proliferation treaty on or before 15 March 1968.

1968: After further revision — concerning mainly the preamble and articles IV and V — the General Assembly commends the draft text of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which is annexed to General Assembly resolution 2373 (XXII).

The Knotted Gun – U.N. Headquarters NY
The Knotted Gun – U.N. Headquarters NY

UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY: FOCUS ON DISARMAMENT

1978: The General Assembly held its tenth special session — the first special session devoted to disarmament — in New York. It was the largest, most representative meeting of nations ever convened to consider the question of disarmament. For the first time in the history of disarmament, the General Assembly reached a consensus on a comprehensive disarmament strategy, which was embodied in the Final Document adopted at the session.

Final Report of the General Assembly First Special Session on Disarmament

Illustration of bomb, tied down
Image credit: Matt Collins

UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY: FOCUS ON DISARMAMENT

1996: The General Assembly adopts the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) by a vote of 158 in favour, 3 against, with 5 abstentions. With the CTBT's opening for signature on 24 September 1996, a de-facto international ban on nuclear testing was established, and all 182 Signatory States have observed this moratorium. India, Pakistan and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea have tested nuclear weapons since the adoption of the Treaty text. The CTBT bans nuclear explosions by everyone, everywhere: on the Earth's surface, in the atmosphere, underwater and underground.

History of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty

Status of the CTBT

Demobilization in Burundi
UN Photo/Martine Perret

UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY: FOCUS ON DISARMAMENT

2001: The Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PoA) was adopted by the General Assembly through resolution 56/24 without a vote. In an effort to reduce the human suffering caused by small arms and light weapons, the PoA provides a framework to counter the illicit trade in these weapons. While the PoA is non-binding, the U.N.'s Member States have agreed to report on implementation and to establish national coordination mechanisms to review and strengthen legislation, procedures and international cooperation.

Report of the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects

Child with shell casings in Central African Republic
Photo Credit: Pierre Holtz
UNICEF CAR - www.hdptcar.net

UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY: FOCUS ON DISARMAMENT

2009: The General Assembly passed resolution 64/48 by a vote of 151 in favour, 1 against and 20 abstentions calling for the convening of a Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty in 2012. The global trade in conventional weapons — from warships and battle tanks to fighter jets and machine guns — remains poorly regulated. No set of internationally agreed standards exist to ensure that arms are only transferred for appropriate purposes. Many governments have voiced concern about the absence of globally agreed rules for all States to guide their decisions on arms transfers.

The Arms Trade Treaty

About the Arms Trade