|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Longer World Delays on Nuclear Disarmament, Proliferation, ‘the Greater the Risk
that These Weapons Will Be Used’, Says Secretary-General at Monterey Institute
Following are Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the Monterey Institute of International Studies entitled “Advancing the Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Agenda: Seeking Peace in an Over-armed World”, as prepared for delivery in Monterey, California, 18 January:
It is a pleasure to be at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.
I thank President Sunder Ramaswamy for hosting. I also want to recognize Dr. William Potter, Director of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.
It is not surprising that this Center is located at the Monterey Institute.
Your graduates are grappling with the many challenges of a world in transition: protecting the environment; promoting sustainable development; strengthening international peace and security.
Your faculty and students have worked closely with the United Nations.
The world needs your skills and commitment, especially in advancing disarmament and non-proliferation.
These are great causes. They are part of the UN’s very identity, helping to define who we are and what we stand for.
These issues are also part of my own personal and professional DNA.
In 1992, I served as vice-chair of the South-North Korea Joint Nuclear Control Commission aimed at realizing the de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
I also served in 1999 as Chair of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization.
As United Nations Secretary-General, one of my first decisions was to restructure our disarmament office and re-energize its work.
I also launched a five-point plan on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation early in my tenure.
Today, I would like to review what we have achieved and what challenges remain.
I will focus on five linked and mutually reinforcing points: accountability; the rule of law; partnerships; the role of the Security Council; and education.
As I look at the disarmament landscape, my feelings are mixed.
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty remains a cornerstone of the global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. It has helped curb nuclear proliferation and avoid a world with many dozens of nuclear States as had been feared.
I also recognize the combined efforts of Governments, experts, civil society and international organizations with disarmament and non-proliferation mandates.
But, as we know, the architecture of non-proliferation is not perfect. There are loopholes and gaps.
And even more troubling, nuclear disarmament progress is off track.
Delay comes with a high price tag.
The longer we procrastinate, the greater the risk that these weapons will be used, will proliferate or be acquired by terrorists.
But, our aim must be more than keeping the deadliest of weapons from “falling into the wrong hands”.
There are no right hands for wrong weapons.
This brings me to my first point: accountability.
Each Member State needs to uphold its commitments.
My advice, my appeal to all, is this: Be a first mover. Don’t look to others or to your neighbours to start disarmament and arms control measures.
If you take the lead, others will follow.
Deferring nuclear disarmament indefinitely pending the satisfaction of an endlessly growing list of preconditions can lead only to a world full of nuclear weapons.
I want to stress the special responsibility of the nuclear-armed States.
I also encourage nuclear-weapon States to come up with a bold set of measures to promote transparency of their nuclear arsenals.
They can do this next April at the second session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 NPT Review Conference.
Or they can start today by contributing data to the UN’s “Repository of information provided by nuclear-weapon States”, as mandated at the Review Conference in 2010.
This should commence with in-depth consultations between the States with the largest nuclear arsenals — the Russian Federation and the United States — followed by deep and verified cuts in their arsenals and additional reductions by other States.
I urge all nuclear-armed States to reconsider their national nuclear posture.
Nuclear deterrence is not a solution to international peace and stability. It is an obstacle.
Member States also need to reinvigorate the international disarmament machinery.
When I spoke to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, I said plainly that the very credibility of the body is at risk.
The Conference's record of achievement is overshadowed by inertia that has now lasted for more than a decade. That must change.
Another year of stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament is simply unacceptable.
The Conference should start long-overdue negotiations on a fissile material treaty as a priority.
It should also start deliberations on a nuclear weapons convention, a legal security assurance for non-nuclear-weapon States against nuclear threats, and the prevention of an arms race in outer space.
Global nuclear disarmament requires global arrangements.
My second point relates to strengthening the rule of law.
We must intensify efforts to bring the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBTO) into force.
I urge the remaining eight States whose ratification is essential for the Treaty’s entry into force to do so without further delay.
In April, I will travel to Washington, D.C. with the leadership of the CTBTO to support the Obama Administration’s efforts to get this Treaty ratified.
We also need to achieve universal membership in the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions.
This is not a theoretical issue; there are concerns in the here and now.
Twice in recent months, I have written to President Assad of Syria to warn against the use of these weapons in the conflict, and I have urged the Syrian Government to join the Chemical Weapons Convention without further delay.
Let there be no doubt: The use of such weapons would be an outrageous crime with dire consequences.
We also have to further strengthen the capacity of the organizations with key responsibilities for ensuring implementation of treaties and other agreements, including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the CTBTO.
One major rule of law priority this year is to reach agreement on an arms trade treaty.
There is a great need for responsible standards in the legal trade in conventional weapons, as well as for expanded international cooperation to combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.
Every day, we at the United Nations see the human toll of an absence of regulations or lax controls on the arms trade.
We see it in the suffering of populations caught up in armed conflict or victimized by pervasive crime.
We see it in the killing and wounding of civilians — including children in schools.
We see it in the massive displacement of people and through grave violations of international law.
An agreed set of standards for arms exports along with strong national legislation can help begin to change all of that.
When concluded, the arms trade treaty will advance global efforts to bring the rule of law to the conventional arms trade.
This would expand on past successes in conventional arms control, especially the conclusion of Conventions outlawing cluster munitions and landmines.
My third point today is the importance of advocacy and partnerships.
Disarmament cannot be considered in isolation from other global challenges.
The world spends more on the military in one month than it does on development all year.
And four hours of military spending is equal to the total budgets of all international disarmament and non-proliferation organizations combined.
The world is over-armed. Peace is under-funded.
Bloated military budgets promote proliferation, derail arms control, doom disarmament and detract from social and economic development.
The profits of the arms industry are built on the suffering of ordinary people — in Mali, Syria, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo.
At the foot of the pyramid lie small arms. At the top are nuclear weapons.
I will continue to use my moral authority and convening power to advocate for disarmament, non-proliferation and nuclear security.
That is why I was the first Secretary-General to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where I met with the survivors — the hibakusha.
It is why I visited the former nuclear test site at Semipalatinsk, in Kazakhstan.
I have also been to Chernobyl and Fukushima, and convened high-level meetings at the United Nations on Nuclear Safety and Security and on Countering Nuclear Terrorism.
In all I do, I rely on partners to help me spread the word.
Non-governmental organizations are making significant contributions, such as the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the Global Zero movement and many other groups.
We are using social media to enrol individuals around the world as messengers for peace, as with the UN’s “WMD-WeMustDisarm!” multimedia campaign in 2009.
But, the responsibility lies ultimately with Member States.
This brings me to my fourth point — specific regional issues and the role of the Security Council.
I am deeply concerned about Iran’s nuclear programme.
I visited Iran last August and emphatically urged the country’s leaders to take concrete steps to reassure the world community about the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme.
Iran must fully comply with relevant Security Council resolutions.
And as these issues are being addressed, parallel efforts should be undertaken to advance the broader goal of promoting peace and security in the region.
In 1995, concerns about other security challenges in the Middle East led the States Parties to the NPT (Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons) to adopt a resolution calling for the region to be free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.
Last year, we saw the postponement of an important conference to address this issue.
We have missed a deadline. But, we have not lost the opportunity to move this initiative forward.
This year, the world community must insist on doing exactly that. And I will do all I can to help.
Turning to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the recent launch of a long-range rocket has exacerbated global concern about its pursuit of nuclear weapons, including means of delivery.
I once again urge the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to fully abide by the relevant Security Council resolutions.
Countries in Northeast Asia are in transition, which can offer a new window of opportunity for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
I encourage the new leadership in Pyongyang to build confidence with neighbouring countries and address the concerns of the international community.
This leads me to another important question: how to respond when Security Council resolutions are violated.
Unless equipped with robust verification and enforcement measures, the credibility of the Security Council will be called into question.
I urge the Security Council to take up this matter at a high-level meeting.
The Council has a critical role to play in advancing disarmament and non-proliferation goals.
In 2008, I urged the Council to convene a Summit-level meeting on these issues and they did so in 2009. This welcome development should be followed by further meetings and future Summits.
By considering — and acting — on major existential threats, the Security Council can spur much-needed global debate.
This brings me to my fifth and final point — the importance of disarmament education.
A 2002 UN study put it well: the goal must be “to learn how to think rather than what to think.”
Unfortunately, funding for disarmament education, training and research remains low to non-existent in many States.
Most damaging of all, the next generation of leaders, legislators and administrators is being encouraged not to think.
It is easier for students to learn the logic of nuclear deterrence than to learn to discard the myths that keep nuclear weapons in place.
But, education can help to refute the claim that nuclear disarmament is utopian.
We hear this year after year, especially from critics who seem blind to the social and economic costs of such weapons and the catastrophic human effects of their use.
Innovative teaching methods are one way forward, and here I credit the approach used at Dr. Potter’s Center, which relies heavily on simulations and role-playing.
Technology, too, has much to offer. Web-based “massive open online courses” can reach huge audiences worldwide.
In 2010, the UN launched its “Academic Impact” initiative to deepen its cooperation with the world’s universities.
I hope we can encourage academia to include disarmament and non-proliferation issues in their curricula and research agendas, as you have done here.
I am pleased to announce today that the Monterey Institute of International Studies has agreed to join the UN Academic Impact — and I thank you for your leadership and example.
Disarmament education can also benefit Governments through programmes offered at the UN’s regional centres for peace and disarmament in Latin America, Africa and in Asia and the Pacific.
The UN’s Programme of Fellowships on Disarmament has trained over 800 public officials, mainly from developing countries.
The UN Institute for Disarmament Research, based in Geneva, continues to perform important work, and I believe it deserves increased financial support.
And the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the CTBTO have their own excellent training programmes.
Education can help the world to build a global culture of peace that rejects all weapons of mass destruction as illegitimate and immoral.
Over a half century ago, President John Kennedy stood at the podium in the United Nations General Assembly and warned:
“Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident or miscalculation or by madness. The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us.”
The world was lucky that the nuclear arms build-up that followed did not result in a global nuclear catastrophe.
Yet, the nuclear sword remains — as does that slender thread.
But so, too, does that plea for abolition — an appeal rooted in the threats posed by weapons of mass destruction and the unrestrained global competition for more, and more potent, weaponry.
So, I will add my own appeal to you today.
Focus your minds not on clever ways to strengthen the thread. Focus instead on how to remove the sword.
This is the true challenge for disarmament and non-proliferation.
* *** *