Secretary-General's message to the Conference on Disarmament [delivered by Kim Won-soo, Acting High Representative for Disarmament Affairs]
Geneva, Switzerland, 26 January 2016
I am pleased to send my greetings to all those taking part in the Conference on Disarmament as it begins its 2016 session.
In my first message to this body as Secretary-General nine years ago, I emphasized the importance of reinvigorating disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.
I looked to this Conference to rise to the challenge. However, we have seen little progress, and the inability to negotiate has become business as usual.
As a result, two goals I outlined almost a decade ago have become more urgent than ever.
First, the world must do more to prevent the expansion or further development of nuclear arsenals.
The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) was designed for that purpose and negotiated in this body. This year marks twenty years since it has been open for signature. The recent nuclear test conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was deeply destabilizing for regional security and seriously undermines international non-proliferation efforts. As the fourth such test to break the de facto moratorium in this century, it was a stark reminder of the urgent need to permanently codify the global norm against nuclear tests
Now is the time to make the final push to secure the CTBT’s entry into force as well as to achieve its universality. In the interim, States should consider how to strengthen the de facto moratorium on nuclear tests so that no State can use the current status of the CTBT as an excuse to conduct a nuclear test.
Second, the international community must accelerate the reduction of existing stockpiles.
Nuclear-armed states should continue to reduce deployed arsenals and improve transparency. A treaty on fissile materials for use in nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices would be a prerequisite for sustainable nuclear disarmament. It would render the nuclear disarmament process irreversible. This would also help deny terrorists from accessing or stealing weapons-useable material.
This month marks the seventieth anniversary of the first resolution adopted by the General Assembly. That resolution sought specific measures for the elimination of atomic weapons and all other weapons adaptable to mass destruction. Despite some progress, that objective remains unfulfilled.
Growing awareness of the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons has created a new sense of urgency. Yet, as our efforts to adopt effective measures for disarmament continue to be frustrated, the gap between the positions has grown wider. We must work together to fill this gap.
While this Conference has not been able to break its deadlock, States have made use of other forums to negotiate important new legal instruments -- including rules for the responsible trade in conventional arms, prohibiting anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions, and addressing the explosive remnants of war.
Yet every day we confront new challenges posed by nuclear weapons and the over-accumulation of conventional arms.
During my tenure as Secretary-General, I have done my best to help reinvigorate this body and to advance multilateral disarmament negotiations. This included my Five-Point Plan of 2008 and the high-level meeting I convened in 2010.
I will continue to spare no effort, but the ultimate burden rests on the members of this Conference to bridge the gaps and find an urgent solution to the chronic impasse.
Without such concrete action, this Conference risks becoming completely marginalized.
I encourage the Conference to live up to its responsibility as the single multilateral negotiating forum for disarmament.
Statements on 26 January 2016