Heads of State, Heads of Government, and Foreign Ministers gathered today at an historic High-level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament.
Selected highlights of the opening plenary session are below.
Opened by General Assembly President John Ashe, he proclaimed that the General Assembly “consistently stated its commitment to nuclear disarmament.” He said, “it is an aspiration that has been echoed in numerous resolutions, international treaties and initiatives in the decades following the Hiroshima attack. By gathering at the highest levels, we stand committed to a peaceful world free of nuclear weapons.”
He was followed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who said that nuclear disarmament would strengthen international peace and security, free up vast and much-needed resources for social and economic development, advance the rule of law, spare the environment and help keep nuclear materials from terrorist or extremist groups. The Secretary-General also stated that “it would remove a layer of fear that clouds all of human existence.” The Secretary-General offered a special thank you to “members of civil society for all they have done to promote disarmament efforts and advance disarmament and non-proliferation education.”
President Hassan Rouhani of the Islamic Republic of Iran, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said, “Nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation are mutually reinforcing. They should be pursued simultaneously, not one at the cost of the other. Non-proliferation derives its legitimacy from the larger objective of nuclear disarmament. It should be implemented in a comprehensive and non-discriminatory manner.
Heinz Fischer, President of Austria told the Assembly, “The discourse on nuclear weapons has long been dominated by traditional national security considerations. In an age of globalization and in light of the global consequences of nuclear weapons, it is overdue to move beyond such a narrow perspective. Nuclear weapons bear an unacceptable risk to humanity. Any nuclear weapons use would cause severe humanitarian emergencies and have global consequences for the environment, global health, the climate, the social order, human development and the global economy.”
Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, said that “An essential element in the process of nuclear disarmament is for all states possessing nuclear weapons to reduce their nuclear arsenals and to enhance their transparency.” He added that “the responsibilities that the non-nuclear-weapon states shoulder are equally important as those of the nuclear-weapons states. Building realistic and practical blocks upon mutual trust between those two sides is the most definitive path to achieve ‘a world free of nuclear weapons’.”
The President of Mongolia, Elbegdorj Tsakhia, stated that “the five nuclear-weapon states have signed a joint declaration that not only recognized Mongolia’s nuclear-weapon-free status, but also committed them to respect that status and not contribute to any act that would violate it.” He added that “Mongolia’s experience inspires and demonstrates that even small states can contribute to promoting the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons.”
Viola Onwuliri, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, told the Assembly that “Nuclear disarmament is an idea whose time has finally come. Mankind has lived on the edge for too long. It has repeatedly been demonstrated that nuclear weapons are inhumane and unacceptable weapons that should be taken off the list of global armaments.”
The opening session ended with the statement by Mr. Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, who spoke on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States. He told the delegates that, “Latin America and the Caribbean [was] proud to be the first densely populated area in the world to be declared a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (NWFZ), under the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco). The establishment of a NWFZ in the Latin American and Caribbean region has contributed to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, as well as to regional and global peace and security.”
To read all the statements delivered today, please visit the website of the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on Nuclear Disarmament.