Nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation remain high priorities. Yet there are no disarmament negotiations, no fissile material treaty, no entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. While parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons are emphasizing the humanitarian dimensions of nuclear disarmament, the conference mandated for 2012 on establishing a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction was not held. In addition, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea announced its third nuclear test in February 2013. Talks are also continuing over the need for the Islamic Republic of Iran to fulfil its obligations under relevant Security Council resolutions.
Our greatest institutional challenge is the deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament. This Organization cannot meaningfully advance the rule of law in disarmament when the world’s single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum is unable to adopt even a substantive programme of work. I continue to urge its members to end this stalemate and avoid any further erosion of its capability to fulfil its mandate. The General Assembly established an open-ended working group, which met in 2013, to examine ways of taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations. A group of governmental experts will soon focus on a fissile material cut-off treaty. The work of these groups may give the Conference new impetus.
I remain gravely concerned over allegations of chemical weapons use in the Syrian Arab Republic. I established a United Nations mission to investigate those allegations. Upon the acceptance by the Syrian Government of the modalities essential for the conduct of the mission, the team travelled to the Syrian Arab Republic to investigate three of the reported incidents, including Khan al-Assal. Other allegations and their related sites were discussed. I have also emphasized the responsibility of the Syrian Government to ensure the safety and security of any chemical weapons and related materials.
The effects of the unregulated trade in conventional arms are tragic: brutal crackdowns, armed conflict, rampant crime or violence and resulting human suffering. On 2 April 2013, the General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to adopt the Arms Trade Treaty, a historic diplomatic achievement. The Treaty will make it more difficult for weapons to be diverted into the illicit market. It will be a powerful new tool for preventing human rights abuses or violations of international humanitarian law.
The United Nations is responding to requests from Member States for assistance in implementing disarmament treaties. Its regional centres for peace and disarmament help with capacity-building measures for preventing the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, while also assisting Member States and key stakeholders in implementing Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) concerning the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their acquisition by non-State actors.