United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination

Statement on behalf of H.E. Mr Peter Thomson, President of the 71st Session of the General Assembly, delivered by H.E. Mr. Masud Bin Momen, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations and Acting Vice-President of the UN General Assembly, at United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination

27 March 2017



[I have the honor to deliver the following statement on behalf of the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Peter Thomson, who unfortunately cannot be here today due to other multilateral commitments.]


President of the Conference

High Representative of the Secretary General for Disarmament Affairs

Secretary General of the Conference


Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


At the outset I would like to thank the President of the Conference, Her Excellency, Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez of the Republic of Costa Rica, for inviting me to address today’s meeting.

For nearly seven decades, the United Nations has been engaged in long and painstaking discussions to try and rid the world of its nuclear arsenal.

While the call to eliminate nuclear weapons has long resonated among all Member States, the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons continues to be out of reach.

Although current nuclear stockpiles are at the lowest levels since the end of the Cold War, it is self-evidently clear that so long as any nuclear weapons continue to exist, they pose an unacceptable risk to humanity.

One misstep, one poor judgement, one technical failure, or one determined non-State actor gaining access to nuclear weapons, could lead to unimaginable devastation, including mass casualties and destruction, and long-term health, environmental, climate, economic, and sustainable development consequences.

It is no wonder that nuclear weapons continue to be a source of understandable fear and mistrust among nations.

 In addition, the cost of producing, maintaining, modernizing and enhancing nuclear weapons diverts large sums of public resources away from other critical areas of investment, including to social and economic services and to sustaining peace, all of which would reduce the threat to international peace and security.

Indeed, if the funds currently spent on nuclear weapons were redirected towards implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, great strides could immediately be made in our efforts to strengthen global security.


It is in this context that the decision taken by the General Assembly earlier this Session to convene a United Nations Conference in 2017 to negotiate a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons creates a window to bring new impetus to nuclear disarmament efforts.

I encourage you to bear this in mind as we begin our negotiations.

As with any major intergovernmental process, sensitive and complex issues will be raised.

But with vision, determination, political will, and a willingness to work together to find common ground, these hurdles can be overcome, and a solution that is acceptable to all can be reached.

Indeed, all Governments have previously committed to pursuing precisely this aim – working towards a world free of nuclear weapons.

I wish you all constructive and fruitful negotiations.

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