On 18 September 2018, the Vienna Chapter of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) organized a commemorating event in the framework of ‘the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons”. The event coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Vienna Chapter, a testament to its continuing importance in Vienna’s diplomatic community. Mr. Valere Mantels, Head of the Vienna Office of the Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), provided remarks at the invitation of the Permanent Mission of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, in its capacity as the Chairman of the Vienna Chapter.
Mr. Mantels highlighted: “the complete elimination of nuclear weapons remains the United Nations’ highest disarmament priority.” The United Nations General Assembly established the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons in 2013 through resolution 68/32 as a follow-up to the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament which was held on 26 September 2013, in New York. The day acts as an opportunity for the world community to reaffirm its commitment to nuclear disarmament and enhances public awareness regarding the need to eliminate nuclear weapons.
Other speakers at the event included the Ambassador of Venezuela, Mr. Jesse Chacon, the Ambassador of Brazil, Mr. Marcel Fortuna Biato, and a Representative of Austria, Mr. Karl Prummer. Each of them emphasized the importance of eliminating nuclear weapons. Ambassador Chacon noted that global denuclearization remained NAM’s “highest priority”. This statement was echoed by Ambassador Biato and Mr. Prummer, who both called on nuclear weapons states to eliminate nuclear weapons from their defense policies. Mr. Prummer noted that investment in nuclear weapons only “siphons off funds” from more fulfilling projects.
The Vienna Office of UNODA promotes nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation through its engagement with the diplomatic community in Vienna and its cooperation with relevant entities in Vienna. Through its disarmament education programs, it reaches out to young professionals, in particular female practitioners. The office also provides objective, impartial and up-to-date information on multilateral disarmament issues and activities. Mr. Mantels emphasized: “UNODA is ready to support any and all disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.”