The first ever Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction concluded today with the adoption of a political declaration.
“This is an important step forward,” said Conference President Sima Sami I. Bahous (Jordan). Open and constructive negotiations during the week-long Conference, which began on 18 November, resulted in delegates declaring themselves convinced that the realization of this long-standing goal would be facilitated by the participation of all States of the Middle East. They also agreed to extend an “open-ended invitation to all States of the region to lend their support to this declaration and to join the process”, she said.
She went on to say that participants expressed hope that a legally binding document could contribute to building regional and international confidence, and that creating such a zone would greatly enhance peace and security in the Middle East and beyond. They also stressed that the pursuit of this legally binding treaty, which will ultimately establish such a zone in the Middle East, must be done “on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at by consensus” by the regional States in an open and inclusive manner in accordance with relevant international resolutions, she said.
“I have witnessed this during the Conference and the consultations; the challenge is how to translate the will into concrete action and progress,” she said. Indeed, the declaration sends a strong message to the international community that reflects “our determination to work tirelessly towards the creation of a safer Middle East that will contribute to peace and security in the region and internationally”, she stated.
Representatives of Egypt, Iraq, Djibouti, Kuwait and Yemen and an observer for the State of Palestine commended the declaration’s adoption and welcomed the beginning of an ambitious process that will end in a Middle East free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. They agreed that such a goal can only be attained if all affected regional States work collectively and avoid any politicization of the debates.
Almost 100 statements were made during the Conference, including those by United Nations Secretary‑General António Guterres and General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande. (For details, see Press Releases DC/3818 and DC/3820.)
Calls for holding the Conference began in 1995 at the Review and Extension Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. In 2018, the General Assembly entrusted the Secretary‑General to convene annual week‑long meetings with the aim of elaborating a treaty to create a nuclear‑weapon-free zone in the Middle East, and invite all States in the region, the five nuclear‑weapon States and relevant international organizations.