The 26th of September 2017 marked the fourth consecutive year the United Nations commemorated the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. Established in 2013 through the adoption of UN General Assembly resolution 68/32, the day calls for the world community to reaffirm its commitment to global nuclear disarmament as well as to educate the public about the threat posed to humanity by nuclear weapons and the necessity for their total elimination.
The high-level plenary meeting commemorating the event was opened by H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, President of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly followed by H.E. Mr. António Guterres, UN Secretary-General. The meeting was attended by delegations from over sixty States as well as representatives from many non-governmental organizations. Some of the issues addressed by many States touched on the need for inclusive, non-aggressive dialogue between countries, renewed international cooperation and practical measures to promote universal nuclear disarmament.
President Lajčák’s opening statement highlighted the fact that six nuclear weapons tests have occurred in the 21st century. Secretary-General Guterres further condemned these tests, by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), stating, “In recent months, the dangers posed by nuclear weapons have been forcefully driven home, making this event timelier than ever.” The two urged for continued commitment to achieving a world free of nuclear weapons, calling upon every State to take responsibility.
Delegates took the floor to call on all States to sign and ratify both the Comprehensive Nuclear- Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear weapons, the latter of which opened for signature on 20 September of this year.
Venezuela on behalf of the NAM highlighted that commemorating 26 September is one of the most effective ways to focus international public attention on the dangers posed by nuclear weapons and to mobilize efforts to achieve the common goal of a nuclear free world.
Mr. Dennis Kucinich from the Basel Peace Office and Ms. Marzhan Nurzhan from the Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non- Proliferation and Disarmament delivered statements on behalf of the civil society.
Ms. Nurzhan used her native of Kazakhstan as an example of a country that at one point had a massive nuclear arsenal and rejected them–now existing as a “nuclear-weapon-free” country.
Text by Gillian Linden