BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE
FIFTY EIGHT SESSION
OF THE UNITED NATIONS
TO MARK THE OBSERVATION OF DISARMAMENT WEEK
24 - 30 OCTOBER 2003
January 1946 the United Nations General Assembly adopted
its very first resolution. That resolution focused on disarmament
and called for "the elimination from national armaments
of atomic weapons and of all other major weapons adaptable
to mass destruction." Over the years Member States,
through a series of pivotal conventions, have supported
the United Nations disarmament initiatives. It is worth
noting that even during the Cold War there were bilateral
agreements on non-proliferation issues.
that there has been some progress on non-proliferation,
the threat to the world from weapons of mass destruction
appears to be as great as ever. In particular, more states
have, or are in the process of acquiring nuclear technology.
Indeed, there is a very real danger that non-state groups
or individuals may one day acquire and use the deadliest
weapons known to humankind. The elimination of all weapons
of mass destruction, including nuclear, chemical, and biological
weapons, must therefore remain the most urgent priority
because of their potentially devastating effect globally.
other weapons also pose a grave threat to the peace and
security of our world. According to a recent UNDP report,
there are at least a half a billion rifles, pistols and
other small arms in circulation around the world. Easy access
to these weapons as well as the continued production and
use of landmines, has shattered lives and ruined economies
in particular in the developing world. The illegal trade
in mass produced modern lightweight weapons and small arms
has made it easier for children, who have been ruthlessly
conscripted into armies, to become efficient killers virtually
year, marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the historic
First Special Session of the General Assembly on Disarmament.
At that meeting, there was agreement on a Final Document
consisting of a Declaration of Principles, a Program of
Action and Machinery for Disarmament. Let us in this Disarmament
Week and in the spirit of that landmark event, reflect on
concrete, practical steps to achieve the goal of disarmament.
I appeal to countries to uphold the principles of the Non-Proliferation
Treaty (NPT). I urge those countries that have not already
done so to ratify the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), the Chemical
Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Biological Weapons Convention
(BWC). It is also imperative that Member States take urgent
action through legislation or other means to halt the illegal
trade in small arms, light weapons and landmines.
first stated purpose of the United Nations in the Charter
is to maintain international peace and security. Disarmament
is an essential step towards fulfilling that mandate. Progress
in disarmament requires not only extensive bilateral and
multilateral cooperation; it also requires sustained effort
by individuals and civil society. It is imperative now more
than ever before that we confront the serious threat that
arms and armament pose to our global community. We must
collectively intensify our efforts to achieve the long-standing
disarmament goals to which member countries are committed.
Our future depends on it.