|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
greater transparency key to discussions about limiting or eliminating armaments,
Secretary-General stresses in message on strengthening collective security
Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message to the Security Council thematic debate on strengthening collective security through general regulation and reduction of armaments, delivered in New York today, 19 November, by Sergio Duarte, United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs:
It is a pleasure to send greetings to the Security Council on the occasion of this important debate on the strengthening of collective security.
Achieving a sense of collective security is a vital step towards preventing conflict. As we know all too well, organizations tend to be better equipped for reacting to developments than for anticipating them. But we cannot be passive in the face of threats to international peace and security. That is why conflict prevention is very high on my agenda, and why the international community must strengthen its ability to minimize the potential for conflict.
The strengthening of collective security can build trust between States. And it can pave the way for agreements and cooperation in other fields, steadily tying countries together in a web of shared interest, better understanding and mutual support.
The strengthening of collective security through general regulation and reduction of armaments was a central preoccupation of the League of Nations. When the United Nations was established, the issue of minimizing the diversion of the world’s human and economic resources for armaments was given a place in the Charter, along with disarmament.
No serious discussion on the limitation or elimination of armaments can avoid the topic of improving transparency. If States behave in a predictable and transparent way, this can build confidence and thereby promote collective security.
Member States have developed two transparency instruments within the framework of the United Nations. First is the Standardized Instrument for Reporting Military Expenditures. This will be reviewed in 2010 for the first time. Second is the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, to which Member States may report their arms imports and exports, as well as data on their military holdings and production in specific categories of major conventional weapons.
Over the years, Member States have agreed to steadily widen the scope of the Register. Significantly, in 2003 they decided that States could include their transfers of small arms. Far more than half of all United Nations Member States have participated in both instruments. I would hope to see even greater involvement, as well as more consistent reporting.
But let us remember that transparency in armaments is only one of several criteria that the world community is seeking to enshrine in multilateral agreements in the fields of disarmament and arms regulation. Others include irreversibility, verification, and the degree to which signatories are bound by an agreement. To the extent that such criteria are accepted by States and implemented in good faith, prospects for achieving the full potential of collective security will grow.
I welcome the recognition by the Security Council that progress in disarmament and the regulation of armaments can make important contributions to strengthening collective security, for the benefit of all. All Member States and their populations have a stake in security. Security is a common good. And as such, it has value only when it is shared with others.
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