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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Report of the Secretary-General on the Work of the Organization (2012)

G. Disarmament

photo of a sculpture of a gun with a knot tied in the barrel

Lack of progress on the disarmament and non-proliferation agenda within the United Nations arena is troubling. While the international community in 2011 worked to implement the new nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation commitments and agreements reached at the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, as well as in other forums such as the Washington and the Seoul Nuclear Security Summits, the United Nations bodies responsible for advancing those recommendations faced protracted deadlocks and were unable to reach consensus in 2012. Progress in the nuclear field continues to be impeded in particular by the inability of the Conference on Disarmament to overcome its differences and agree on a programme of work that would allow for the resumption of substantive work, including negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty, which is a priority for the international community. I urge the Conference to demonstrate to the world the urgency of its work.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Islamic Republic of Iran should fully comply with relevant Security Council resolutions as they relate to nuclear programmes and associated concerns about means of delivery.

Poor regulation of the global trade in arms continues to present a significant challenge. Although there is no single-cause relationship between the poorly regulated arms trade on the one hand, and conflict, armed violence and substantive human rights abuses on the other, there are often obvious connections between the misuse of Government-owned arms and the questionable legitimacy or responsibility displayed by their original provider, or between massive quantities of illicit arms and ammunition in circulation and lax national controls. Working to improve lives and livelihoods around the world, the Organization is directly confronted with the consequences of the arms flow: brutal crackdowns, armed conflict, rampant crime or violence and the widespread human suffering that they cause. It is therefore very disappointing that at the end of its four-week-long session (from 2 to 27 July 2012) the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty failed to agree on the text of a treaty that would have set common standards to regulate the international trade in conventional arms. The Conference’s failure is not only a setback to many Governments, but it also deals a blow to large sectors of civil society who will undoubtedly feel disillusioned after six years of tireless work to make the arms trade treaty a reality. It also frustrates the hopes of the millions of people all over the world who bear the brunt of the negative consequences of armed conflict and violence fuelled by the poorly regulated international arms trade. It is encouraging, however, that States have agreed to continue pursuing the adoption of a treaty building upon the common ground reached during the negotiations. The United Nations remains steadfast in unwavering support of a robust arms trade treaty.

Nuclear safety and security is an issue that was unfortunately brought to the forefront of the international agenda by the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011. The Organization is supporting the International Atomic Energy Agency in leading international efforts to enhance nuclear safety and security, as well as international emergency preparedness and response. The international community must give more attention to nuclear security. To this end, in September 2012, I will convene a high-level event aimed at strengthening the legal framework on preventing nuclear terrorism.