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On International Day, UN renews call for global elimination of nuclear weapons

Sculpture depicting St. George slaying the dragon. The dragon is created from fragments of Soviet SS-20 and
United States Pershing nuclear missiles. UN Photo/Milton Grant
Sculpture depicting St. George slaying the dragon. The dragon is created from fragments of Soviet SS-20 and United States Pershing nuclear missiles. UN Photo/Milton Grant
26 September 2016 – The world faces growing nuclear dangers and tensions, yet progress in multilateral nuclear disarmament has come to a “standstill,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared today, reiterating a call for complete global nuclear disarmament as the international community marks the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

“Let us pledge to work for the total elimination of nuclear weapons with urgency and a sense of collective purpose. Our very survival depends upon it,” Mr. Ban said in a message to mark the Day, observed annually on 26 September.

Noting that nuclear disarmament is one of the founding principles of the UN, the Secretary-General said that it was also the objective of the first General Assembly resolution.

“Disarmament is in our DNA,” he stated, adding that he has been proud to advance the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons, such as by launching, in 2008, a Five Point Proposal on Nuclear Disarmament to spur Member States to greater action.

There are many paths to a world free of nuclear weapons. What matters is that all States act now, without delay, to fulfil their disarmament and non-proliferation commitments Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson

“Sadly, many countries continue to include nuclear deterrence in their security doctrines. But recent developments have shown that nuclear weapons do not ensure peace and security. Rather, their development and possession has become a major source of international tension,” the UN chief said.

“As we scan the global horizon, we face growing nuclear dangers. Progress in multilateral nuclear disarmament has come to a standstill,” he added.

The Secretary-General noted that tens of billions of dollars have been pledged to maintain and upgrade nuclear weapon systems, and one country – the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – has “repeatedly defied the norm against nuclear testing and the will of the international community in the reckless pursuit of nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities.”

He added that there are growing divisions on the future of multilateral nuclear disarmament. The next review cycle of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons begins in 2017, and “the world cannot afford another round of inaction,” Mr. Ban said.

A landmark international treaty opened for signature in 1968, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons entered into force in 1970, and was extended indefinitely on 11 May 1995. Its objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament. It represents the only binding commitment in a multilateral treaty to the goal of disarmament by the nuclear-weapon States.

“There are many paths to a world free of nuclear weapons. What matters is that all States act now, without delay, to fulfil their disarmament and non-proliferation commitments,” the Secretary-General emphasized.

In related news, at a high-level informal plenary meeting in the General Assembly today to commemorate and promote the Day, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson highlighted that next February, the world will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, known as the Tlatelolco Treaty.

“This landmark treaty was the first to prohibit nuclear weapons in a densely populated region. It has served as a model and inspiration for future nuclear-weapon-free zones,” said Mr. Eliasson, who spoke on behalf of the Secretary-General.

Noting that the international community marked the twentieth anniversary of the opening for signature of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) this past week, Mr. Eliasson reiterated that the Secretary-General strongly supports all efforts to uphold the international norm against nuclear testing, pending the Treaty’s entry into force.

In addition, Mr. Eliasson noted that one day before the anniversary, the Security Council adopted a resolution in support of the Treaty, with the Secretary-General acknowledging the commitment of nuclear-weapon States to uphold their moratorium on nuclear tests.

“But this resolution is not a substitute for the entry into force of the CTBT. Rather, it is a wake-up call for the need to accelerate our efforts towards the full implementation of the Treaty,” he said.

Nuclear explosions

Adopted by the General Assembly under resolution 50 (1996), the CTBT – which bans all nuclear explosions for both civilian and military purposes – has been signed by 183 States thus far, and 166 States have deposited their instruments of ratification.

The Treaty will enter into force 180 days after the date of deposit of the instruments of ratification by all States listed in its Annex 2. Of the 44 States listed in Annex 2, 41 have signed and 36 have both signed and ratified the Treaty, including several nuclear weapons States.

Of the 44 States included in Annex 2, all have signed with the exceptions of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India and Pakistan. Five of the 44 Annex 2 States have signed but not ratified the Treaty: China, Egypt, Iran, Israel and the United States.

The International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons was established by the UN General Assembly in 2013 in a resolution calling for the “urgent commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament of a comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons to prohibit their possession, development, production, acquisition, testing, stockpiling, transfer and use or threat of use, and to provide for their destruction.”

Today’s high-level meeting was convened by the President of the General Assembly in accordance with Assembly resolution 70/34 of 7 December 2015.



At UN, Russia blames Western ‘arrogance’ for bloodshed in Middle East and North Africa

Sergey V. Lavrov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventy-first session. UN Photo/Cia Pak
Sergey V. Lavrov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventy-first session. UN Photo/Cia Pak
23 September 2016 – Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov today warned that some Western countries’ supremacy and exclusiveness undermined equitable international cooperation, calling on world leaders gathered at the United Nations General Assembly to support Russian initiatives in counter-terrorism and disarmament.

The outcome of arrogant attitude and feeling of their infallibility in pushing forward unilateral hazardous solutions to the most complex conflicts and crises can be observed by the example of bleeding Middle East and North Africa
“Unfortunately, the ideas of mentoring, supremacy, exclusiveness, and realizing their own interests by any means, have been deeply rooted in the minds of political elites of a number of Western countries, to the detriment of efforts to promote just and equitable cooperation,” Mr. Lavrov told the Assembly’s annual debate.

“The outcome of arrogant attitude and feeling of their infallibility in pushing forward unilateral hazardous solutions to the most complex conflicts and crises can be observed by the example of bleeding Middle East and North Africa. As a result, the basis of world stability is being destroyed,” he added.

He said that Syria, under the onslaught of terrorists, has been able to avoid the collapse of statehood and disintegration “mainly thanks to Russia’s military assistance,” requested by and provided to Syria’s legitimate Government.

Russia’s engagement gave an impetus to the establishment of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) with a view to starting a meaningful political process so that the Syrians could determine the future of their country themselves through an inclusive dialogue of all ethnic and religious groups, he said.

This only course is recorded in UN Security Council resolutions and was embodied in recent agreements between Russia and the United States as Co-Chairs of the ISSG, he said.

He pointed out that the US and members of the US-led coalition have a particular responsibility to fulfil the demand by the Security Council to dissociate the so-called moderate opposition from terrorists. The Syrian crisis would not be resolved and the appalling humanitarian situation would not be rectified without suppressing the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Jabhat al-Nusra and their associate extremist groups. This is a key condition for strengthening the cessation of hostilities regime and overall national truce, he explained.

Ukraine has also fallen victim of those who enjoy “zero-point games;” its development has been undermined by the anti-Constitutional coup and now is falling apart as a result of the new authorities’ refusal to implement the Minsk Agreement of February 12, 2015, he said, stressing that the expectations to use the Ukrainian crisis for achieving corrupt geopolitical goals have no prospects.

Only honest implementation of these agreements would lead to the establishment of space of equal and indivisible security and mutually beneficial cooperation in the Euro-Atlantic area, as it was declared in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) almost 20 years ago. Neither the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) nor the European Union (EU) will be able to substitute a truly collective unification of efforts in the common interests without winners or losers, he said.

On terrorism, Mr. Lavrov said the Russia-US agreement reached in Geneva on 9 September is to become a first real step toward creating a wide counter-terrorist front.

The tragedies in Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Syria prove the need to stop time-serving attempts to use extremists for advancing geopolitical intentions. It is necessary, “before it is too late,” to dwell on the task to prevent the proliferation of terrorist and extremist ideology, which literally holds the youth hostage in various regions of the world. In this regard, Russia is drafting a Security Council resolution “aimed at mobilizing efforts to eliminate this evil,” he said, asking for support.

In the sphere of non-proliferation and arms control, Russia is seriously concerned about attempts to replace the key objectives of maintaining strategic stability with populist “nuclear zero” slogans, he said.

Mr. Lavrov explained that the advancement toward nuclear disarmament must be made with full consideration of the whole set of factors that affect strategic stability, including the creation of unilateral missile defense systems, placement of strategic non-nuclear strike weapons, threat of placement of weapons in outer space, inability to ensure the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), and growing imbalance in conventional arms in Europe.

There is a growing support for a Russian initiative to draft an international convention for the suppression of the acts of chemical and biological terrorism, he said. The start of serious negotiations on this issue and on a Russia-China draft treaty on the prevention of placement of weapons in outer space would help move the key body of the UN multilateral disarmament mechanism – the Conference on Disarmament – out of an impasse, he said.

“We call for a substantial examination of our proposals on the improvement of the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological and Toxin Weapons,” he stressed.

On the recent actions by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), he called on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear-missile programmes and return to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime. “However, it is inadmissible to use this situation as a pretext for massive militarization of North-East Asia and deployment of another position area for US global missile defense there,” he warned.

All sides must embark on the way toward diplomatic settlement of the problem through the resumption of six-Party talks, he added.



Security Council adopts resolution on nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament

Security Council meeting: Maintenance of international peace and security. Nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament. UN Photo/Loey Felipe
Security Council meeting: Maintenance of international peace and security. Nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament. UN Photo/Loey Felipe
23 September 2016 – Reaffirming that proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and their means of delivery, threatens international peace and security, the United Nations Security Council today adopted a resolution urging all States who haven't done so to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

With 14 votes in favour and one abstention (Egypt), the resolution welcomed progress made towards universalization of the Treaty, noting that 183 States have signed the Treaty and 166 States have deposited their instruments of ratification.

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty bans all nuclear explosions for both civilian and military purposes. Adopted by the UN General Assembly under resolution 50 (1996), the Treaty will enter into force 180 days after the date of deposit of the instruments of ratification by all States listed in its Annex 2.

Speaking to the press shortly after the Council voted on the resolution, Lassina Zerbo, the Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO), the Treaty's Preparatory Commission, said the organisation welcomed any initiative that serves to strengthen the norm against nuclear testing.

"This is timely, said Mr. Zerbo. "This resolution is timely because it comes at a time where we celebrate the 20 years anniversary of the opening for signature, of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, but timely as well because it comes at a time where DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) has reminded the international community of the absolute necessity to get this treaty into force, by having the moratorium on nuclear testing strong and sealed," Mr. Zerbo added. He was referring to the latest incident of nuclear testing -- conducted by DPRK -- which was condemned by CTBTO, the UN Secretary General, the Security Council, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (AIEA).

Mr. Zerbo also noted that voting today and adopting the resolution, keeps the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty relevant. "We understand some of the concerns that States may have, that this does not substitute the process for ratification. The process for ratification remains the ultimate way to get the Treaty into force, but we just hope that this step - which is an important step, because after the Iran deal, this constitutes one next key element in arms control, non-proliferation and ultimately disarmament - we hope that there will be more steps towards disarmament, because we all seek a world free of nuclear weapons at the end of the day," said Mr. Zerbo.

Kim Won-soo, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs and Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary of CTBTO speak to reporters. Credit: UN News Centre

He however noted that the first step towards that world, is an end to nuclear testing. "A world free of nuclear of weapons goes by stopping testing too, and then taking steps that will reinforce the agreements that are already here, and then leading us towards what we all want: a world free of nuclear weapons; a world free of any attempt of modernisation that some are talking about today."

Today's resolution – adopted by the 15-member Council at a meeting on maintenance of international peace and security – further noted that of the 44 States listed in Annex 2, 41 have signed and 36 have both signed and ratified the Treaty, including several nuclear weapons States.

Of the 44 States included in Annex 2, all have signed with the exceptions of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India and Pakistan. Five of the 44 Annex 2 States have signed but not ratified the Treaty: China, Egypt, Iran, Israel and the United States.

Stressing the “vital importance and urgency” of achieving the early entry into force of the Treaty, the Security Council, by the terms of the resolution, urged all States that have either not signed or not ratified the Treaty – particularly the eight remaining Annex 2 States – to do so without further delay.

Further, the Security Council called on all States to refrain from conducting any nuclear-weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion, and to maintain their moratoria in that regard, and to provide the required support to enable the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization to complete all of its tasks in the most efficient and cost-effective way.

By the text of the resolution, the Council also recognized that “even absent entry into force of the Treaty the monitoring and analytical elements of the verification regime are at the disposal of the international community in conformity with the Treaty and under the guidance of the Preparatory Commission.” Such elements “contribute to regional stability as a significant confidence-building measure, and strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime,” the Council said.

In addition, the Council affirmed that the Treaty's entry into force will contribute to the enhancement of international peace and security through its effective prevention of the proliferation of nuclear weapons and through its contribution to nuclear disarmament.

The resolution also underlined that the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons “remains the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and the essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament and for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.”

A landmark international treaty opened for signature in 1968, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons entered into force in 1970, and was extended indefinitely on 11 May 1995. Its objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament. It represents the only binding commitment in a multilateral treaty to the goal of disarmament by the nuclear-weapon States.



Competition between countries posing serious threats to peace, Prime Minister of Pakistan tells UN

Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventy-first session. UN Photo/Cia Pak
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventy-first session. UN Photo/Cia Pak
21 September 2016 – In an United Nations address highlighting that the world is at crossroads – it is freer and more vibrant but chaotic and turbulent; more independent but unequal; and more prosperous but afflicted with poverty – the Prime Minister of Pakistan cautioned that regional peace is under threat as competition between major powers has become more confrontational.

“A new Cold War threatens to engulf Europe [and] turmoil is intensifying in the Middle East,” said Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif in his address to the General Assembly today.

“Peace cannot be built when injustice prevails,” he added, noting that it is essential to reconcile the divergent objectives and priorities of regional and external powers.

He reported to the General Assembly that the adverse global economic environment, Pakistan has robust growth and that it has fully integrated the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development into its economic and social strategy.

Stressing that internal peace and stability are a requisite for economic development, Prime Minister Sharif said that Pakistan, despite being a victim to international terrorism, will not allow externally sponsored terrorism and threats of destabilization to cause turbulence.

“We will not win the fight against terrorism and violent extremism so long as we do not address their root causes,” he noted, adding that these lie in “poverty and ignorance, political and social injustice and oppression, foreign intervention and occupation and denial of the legitimate rights of peoples and nations, especially the right to self-determination.”

Referring specifically to Afghanistan, the Pakistani leader underlined that progress will be assured only when the Afghan parties themselves conclude that there is no military solution to the conflict there and work diligently, through a meaningful dialogue process, to achieve reconciliation and peace within the country.

Also stressing that Pakistan wants peace with India, Prime Minister Sharif said: “Let us be clear: talks are no favour to Pakistan. Talks are in the interest of both countries. They are essential to resolve our differences, especially the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, and to avert the danger of any escalation.”

He made a strong call for an independent inquiry into the extra-judicial killings in Kashmir and for a UN fact finding mission to investigate “brutalities perpetrated by the Indian occupying forces,” so that those guilty of these atrocities are punished, as well as called the implementation of Security Council resolutions on the subject of Kashmir.

“This General Assembly must demand that India deliver on the commitments its leaders solemnly made on many occasions,” he emphasized.

The Prime Minister also said that as a responsible nuclear weapon State, Pakistan will continue to cooperate with all international efforts that seek to promote fair and equitable solutions to disarmament and non-proliferation challenges and that it has introduced “state of the art” measures to strengthen the safety and security of our nuclear materials and facilities, and said that the basis of objective criteria, and without discrimination, it is fully eligible for membership of the nuclear suppliers’ group.

In conclusion, Prime Minister Sharif emphasized his country’s unwavering commitment to the UN as illustrated by its contribution to UN peacekeeping efforts.

“Pakistan has a vital stake in ending conflicts, fostering peace, fighting terrorism, strengthening democracy, promoting human rights, generating global growth and overcoming the challenges of environmental degradation,” he said, adding: “We can achieve these goals, and create a new and peaceful world order, only through the UN and by strict adherence to the principles of its Charter.”



Sustainable development facing ‘strong headwinds,’ Chinese Premier warns UN Assembly

Address by His Excellency Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, General Assembly Seventy-first session. UN Photo/Cia Pak
Address by His Excellency Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, General Assembly Seventy-first session. UN Photo/Cia Pak
21 September 2016 – In his address to the United Nations General Assembly, Li Keqiang, Premier to the State Council of China, said the 2030 Agenda, the new vision for global development adopted last year, faces an ‘uphill battle’ and its full implementation will require the international community to acknowledge a shared, interconnected future and to take concretes steps to tackle challenges.

Telling the delegations at the Assembly’s annual general debate that China has been among the first countries to submit to the UN its national plan for implementation of the 2030 Agenda, he said that sustainable development should underpin progress at all levels by addressing many of the world’s pressing challenges ¬– from poverty to conflict and the current refugee crisis, “all of which, could be attributed to insufficient development.”

“Only development can guarantee fundamental rights and interests; only development can advance human civilization and progress,” he continued, buts stressed that such development must be broadly sustainable. Development would not be sustainable he said, if it was imbalanced; if it widened the gap between the global North and South; if driven by high consumption and pollution; or if economic and social progress were not well coordinated.

“Currently sustainable development is faced with great challenges,” he noted, pointing to “incessant” conflicts, traditional and non-traditional security threats, the lukewarm world economic recovery and the recurrence of major diseases and natural disasters. “Difficult moments call for stronger confidence,” he said, urging the international community to see itself in a shared future of interconnected interests and to make concerted efforts to tackle global challenges.

Continuing, he said that advancing sustainable development and “achieving our new vision” requires keeping both long- and short-term goals in mind and making concrete efforts to address real problems.

Urging that the United Nations Charter be upheld, he called for States to support the Organization’s lead role in international affairs, support reformed global governance mechanisms that reflect the changed international landscape, and take part in a global partnership that featured dialogue over confrontation.

Turning to other issues, Mr. Li also said the international community should urge parties in Syria to end the fighting. In addition, he advocated denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and seeking solutions to maintain the non-proliferation regime.

While economic globalization, including trade and investment, has been a driving force for growth, it has also taken a toll on certain industries and requires measures to address such problems while “keeping the bigger picture in mind.” Globalization is in line with interests of all countries. He cautioned against protectionism and voiced support for the open trade regime of the World Trade Organization (WTO), among other things.

Redoubled efforts to support Africa and the least developed countries are needed, he said, stressing that developed countries should make good on their official development assistance (ODA) pledges, while developing countries must pursue self-development and find paths suited to their national conditions.

On his country’s economic growth, he said it registered 6.7 per cent in the first half of the year, with 9.5 million jobs created in the first eight months. A developing country, with a long way to go before achieving modernization, China would promote development through deepening reforms and opening its doors to the outside world, as closed door policies had only led to stagnation. China would also pursue cooperation with all countries on the basis of the principles of peaceful co-existence.

His Government, as well, would provide $300 million in humanitarian assistance to relevant countries and international organizations. With 1.3 billion people, “we need to run our own affairs well”, he said “and take our international responsibilities.” China would boost cooperation with other developing countries, and increase its assistance as its economy grew.