19 April 2010

Secretary-General Tells General Assembly Accelerating Disarmament Liberates Funds to Combat Climate Change, Food Insecurity, Attain Development Goals

19 April 2010
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General Tells General Assembly Accelerating Disarmament Liberates

Funds to Combat Climate Change, Food Insecurity, Attain Development Goals

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the thematic debate of the United Nations General Assembly on disarmament and world security, today, 19 April, in New York:

I am honoured to address the General Assembly today.

I would like to thank particularly His Excellency the President of the General Assembly, Ali Abdussalam Treki, for convening this thematic debate on Disarmament and World Security.

This session could not be more timely.

There is encouraging momentum around the world for disarmament and non-proliferation.

We are seeing concrete action from Governments, greater mobilization from civil society, and a strong call from here in this General Assembly.

Each is helping to move us one step closer to a safer world.

Now is the moment to build on that momentum -– and that is what brings us here today.

Disarmament is among the longest-held goals of the United Nations.  When we advance this issue, we are returning to our roots –- but we are also looking forward.

I would like to highlight four points today.

First, we must look at the relationship between disarmament and other global challenges. 

The world is over-armed, and development is under-funded.

Spending on weapons worldwide is now well above $1 trillion a year –- and rising.

These priorities should be reversed.  By accelerating disarmament, we can liberate the resources we need to combat climate change, address food insecurity and achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Second, let us recognize that disarmament efforts can help strengthen international cooperation and move the world toward a renewed multilateralism.

A renewed focus on disarmament and non-proliferation will greatly benefit international security and stability.  But we can only achieve our goals through engaging with each other in a spirit of trust, cooperation, solidarity and mutual reliance.

Third, we must further enhance the partnership between the General Assembly and the Security Council.

The Security Council Summit meeting on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament last September was a true milestone, which we must build on.

The General Assembly also has an important role, which I recognized in my Action Plan on Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation. 

The two bodies have their own distinct responsibilities, but their cooperation is vital.

Fourth, our work on disarmament should address both weapons of mass destruction and the regulation of conventional armaments.

Small arms in the wrong hands destroy lives and livelihoods, impede peace efforts, hinder humanitarian aid, facilitate the illicit trade in narcotics and obstruct investment and development.

I encourage the General Assembly to continue to strengthen the implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons, and make progress towards an Arms Trade Treaty.

Last week’s Washington [D.C.] summit on Nuclear Security was another milestone, taking place at an opportune time.

First, leaders joined with the United States and the Russian Federation in a pledge to secure vulnerable nuclear material in four years.

Second, the leaders presented a number of important proposals to prevent the illicit trafficking of nuclear material.

Third, leaders expressed strong support for the instruments and organizations of the United Nations, including the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.

As Secretary-General, I made several proposals for urgent global action.

I renewed my call for the Conference on Disarmament to start negotiations immediately on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other explosive devices.

I also called for the Security Council to meet annually at the ministerial level, to follow up on its commitment to nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation.  

I believe the positive atmosphere during the Washington summit, and the conclusion of the new START [Strategic Arms Reduction] Treaty on 8 April, exemplify a new engagement and understanding of the importance of nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation.

I hope this new political momentum contributes to a successful outcome to the upcoming Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, NPT.

In particular, I urge States parties to agree to practical measures to achieve the full implementation of the three pillars of the Treaty, as well as its universal application, and to implement the resolution on the Middle East.

Now, more than ever, a concerted effort on all fronts is needed to achieve this long-standing goal of the United Nations.

I am determined to assist you in any way I can, and wish you a most productive debate.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.