Background

The General Assembly declared the International Day in December 2013, in its resolution 68/32 as a follow-up to the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament which was held on 26 September 2013, in New York.

This was the latest in a series of efforts by the General Assembly to raise public awareness and to seek deeper engagement on nuclear disarmament matters. In 2009, the General Assembly had declared 29 August as the International Day against Nuclear Tests (resolution 64/35).

In resolution 68/32, the General Assembly also notably called 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.”

In 2014, in its resolution 69/58, the General Assembly further expressed its desire to commemorate the Day, by requests the Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly to make all the arrangements necessary to commemorate and promote it, including by convening an annual meeting of the Assembly to commemorate the International Day and to provide a platform for the promotion of these activities. The General Assembly repeated these requests and call in 2015, 2016 and 2017 in its resolutions 70/34, 71/71 and 72/251.

The International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons has been observed annually since 2014. Pursuant to the resolutions of the General Assembly, Member States, the United Nations system and civil society, including non-governmental organizations, academia, parliamentarians, the mass media and individuals are encouraged to commemorate and promote the International Day through enhancing public awareness and education about the threat posed to humanity by nuclear weapons and the necessity for their total elimination.

To observe the International Day, the United Nations is supporting events both in New York and Geneva. United Nations Information Centres around the world are encouraged to raise awareness to the observance of International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

Notable Events

1945

The two atomic bombs destroyed the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and are estimated to have killed a total of 213,000 people immediately.

1946

In its very first resolution, the General Assembly identified nuclear disarmament as a leading goal of the United Nations.

1959

The General Assembly included nuclear disarmament as part of the more comprehensive goal of general and complete disarmament under effective international control (resolution 1378(XIV)). It is the first General Assembly resolution ever to be sponsored by the entire membership of the United Nations.

1967

The nuclear arms race and the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis prompted Latin American Governments to negotiate the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco), which established the first nuclear weapons-free zone in a highly populated area.

1978

The General Assembly held its first Special Session Devoted to Disarmament. In the Final Document, Member States affirmed that their common ultimate objective is “general and complete disarmament under effective international control” and that “effective measures of nuclear disarmament and the prevention of nuclear war have the highest priority.”

1985

The South Pacific became the second nuclear-weapon-free zone (Treaty of Rarotonga).

1991

South Africa voluntarily renounced its nuclear weapons programme.

1992

By the Lisbon Protocol to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine voluntarily renounced nuclear weapons in their possession following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

1995

At the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference, States parties adopted without a vote the decisions on the indefinite extension of the Treaty, "Strengthening the review process for the Treaty" and "Principles and objectives on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament", as well as a "Resolution on the Middle East".

Southeast Asia became the third nuclear-weapon-free zone (Bangkok Treaty).

1996

Africa became the fourth nuclear-weapon-free zone (Pelindaba Treaty).

At the request of the General Assembly, the International Court of Justice provided an advisory opinion on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons.

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty opens for signature.

2000

At the 2000 NPT Review Conference, States parties adopt thirteen practical steps for systematic and progressive efforts for nuclear disarmament.

2006

Central Asia became the fifth nuclear-weapon-free zone (Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia).

2008

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced his five-point plan towards nuclear disarmament.

2010

At the 2010 NPT Review Conference, States parties adopt a 64-point action plan across all three pillars of the Treaty – nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy – and practical steps to implement the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East.

2013

The General Assembly held its first-ever high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament. The General Assembly, through its resolution 68/32, declared that 26 September will be the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

The General Assembly, pursuant to resolution 67/56, convenes an open-ended working group on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations.

2016

The General Assembly, pursuant to resolution 70/33, convenes a second open-ended working group on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations.

2017

27 to 31 March and 15 June to 7 July: By resolution 71/258, the General Assembly decided to convene in 2017 a UN conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination. Over 120 countries attended negotiations; however, all nine nuclear weapons possessing states along with some allies of the United States boycotted the conference. On 7 July, the conference adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which is the first multilateral legally binding instrument for nuclear disarmament to have been negotiated in 20 years.

20 September: The Secretary-General, as depositary of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, convened the signing ceremony on 20 September.

2018

The Secretary-General launched “Securing Our Common Future: An Agenda for Disarmament.” The Agenda addresses the elimination of nuclear weapons in the framework of “disarmament to save humanity.”