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Disarmament

Arms are destroyed by fire during the Flame of Peace ceremony to signify the beginning of the country's disarmament and reconciliation process in Bouake, Côte d'Ivoire.

Arms are destroyed by fire during the Flame of Peace ceremony to signify the beginning of the country's disarmament and reconciliation process in Bouake, Côte d'Ivoire.
Photo Credit: UN/Basile Zoma

Halting the spread of arms and reducing and eventually eliminating all weapons of mass destruction are major goals of the United Nations. The UN has been an ongoing forum for disarmament negotiations, making recommendations and initiating studies. It supports multilateral negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament and in other international bodies. These negotiations have produced such agreements as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (1968), the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (1996) and treaties establishing nuclear-free zones.

Other treaties prohibit the development, production and stockpiling of chemical weapons (1992) and bacteriological weapons (1972); ban nuclear weapons from the seabed and ocean floor (1971) and outer space (1967); and ban or restrict other types of weapons. More than 150 countries have become parties to the 1997 Ottawa Convention outlawing landmines. The UN encourages all nations to adhere to this and other treaties banning destructive weapons of war. The UN is also supporting efforts to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons — the weapons of choice in the vast majority of conflicts worldwide. The UN Register of Conventional Arms and the system for standardized reporting of military expenditures help promote greater transparency in military matters.

The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, through a system of safeguards agreements, ensures that nuclear materials and equipment intended for peaceful uses are not diverted for military purposes. And in The Hague, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons collects information on chemical facilities worldwide and conducts routine inspections to ensure adherence to the chemical weapons convention.