Disarmament: Securing Humanity's Future

Disarmament Week seeks to promote awareness and better understanding of disarmament issues and their cross-cutting importance. Starting on 24 October, the anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, the week-long annual observance was first called for in the Final Document of the General Assembly’s 1978 special session on disarmament (resolution S-10/2). In 1995, the General Assembly invited governments, as well as NGOs, to continue taking an active part in Disarmament Week (resolution 50/72 B, 12 December 1995) in order to promote a better understanding among the public of disarmament issues.

Throughout history, countries have pursued disarmament to build a safer, more secure world and to protect people from harm. Since the foundation of the United Nations, disarmament and arms control have played a critical role in preventing and ending crises and armed conflict. Heightened tensions and dangers are better resolved through serious political dialogue and negotiation—not by more arms.

Weapons of mass destruction, in particular nuclear weapons, continue to be of primary concern, owing to their destructive power and the threat that they pose to humanity. The excessive accumulation and illicit trade in conventional weapons jeopardize international peace and security and sustainable development, while the use of heavy conventional weapons in populated areas is seriously endangering civilians. New and emerging weapon technologies, such as autonomous weapons, imperil global security and have received increased attention from the international community in recent years.

Measures for disarmament are pursued for many reasons, including to maintain international peace and security, uphold the principles of humanity, protect civilians, promote sustainable development, foster confidence and trust among States, and prevent and end armed conflict. Disarmament and arms control measures help ensure international and human security in the 21st Century and therefore must be an integral part of a credible and effective collective security system.

The United Nations continues to celebrate the efforts and involvement of a range of actors contributing to a safer, more peaceful common future through disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation efforts.

In a world threatened by weapons of mass destruction, conventional arms and emerging cyberwarfare, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres presented a new agenda for disarmament to save humanity, save lives and secure our common future.

The bronze statue "Let Us Beat Swords into Ploughshares"

The Office for Disarmament Affairs supports multilateral efforts aimed at achieving the ultimate goal of general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control. The Office also works to address the humanitarian impact of major conventional weapons and emerging weapon technologies, such as autonomous weapons, as these issues have received increased attention from the international community.

 

Radioactive material

The UN and the nuclear age were born almost simultaneously. The horror of the Second World War, culminating in the nuclear blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, brought home the need to address the nuclear issue. By its first resolution, the General Assembly established the UN Atomic Energy Commission to deal with the problems raised by the discovery of atomic energy. And a landmark address by United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953, “Atoms for Peace”, led to the establishment in 1957 of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

 

Geometric illustration with the Secretariat building at UNHQ, New York.

International days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. We also mark other UN observances.

 

António Guterres

Disarmament must be brought back to the centre of our common efforts for peace and security.