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11 October 2021

Latest ‘United Nations Disarmament Yearbook’ Explores Challenges, Opportunities for Peace in Transformational Moment

NEW YORK, 11 October (Office for Disarmament Affairs) — The Office for Disarmament Affairs has launched the latest version of the United Nations Disarmament Yearbook, now available on its dedicated website.

It finds that the COVID-19 pandemic - which arrived 75 years after humanity ended the Second World War, learned the tragic lessons of devastation at Hiroshima and Nagasaki and founded the United Nations - has placed an unprecedented strain on agreements and institutions that have since become a critical foundation for international peace and security.

The United Nations Disarmament Yearbook 2020 is a new, authoritative guide that aims to shed light on the key developments and trends from that transformational year.  Prepared each year at the request of United Nations Member States, the United Nations Disarmament Yearbook offers a detailed accounting of the pandemic’s effects on global and regional institutions dedicated to safeguarding peace.

“The impact of COVID-19 on our field extended beyond disrupting the work of intergovernmental forums,” said Izumi Nakamitsu, United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs. “It also reshaped the harms that weapons cause in conflicts and homes.”

The yearbook finds that the pandemic contributed to an intensification of major armed conflicts, with bystanders enduring extraordinary suffering as combat involving heavy explosive weapons moved into cities and towns.  COVID‑19 also complicated efforts to implement global and local arms control measures.  As illicit arms networks leveraged higher unemployment and civil unrest to their advantage, weakened institutions and overburdened public services found themselves less equipped to resist.

“Illicit arms networks thrived as societies faced widespread unemployment and unrest, and firearms fuelled part of a devastating surge in gender‑based, domestic violence,” said Ms. Nakamitsu.

Nuclear disarmament efforts also faced headwinds from deteriorating geostrategic conditions, growing distrust and acrimony among nuclear‑armed States, increasing concerns about technological developments contributing to greater risks and ongoing qualitative improvements to nuclear weapons.

Yet there were also hopeful developments.  For example, the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs joined the African Union and key African regional organizations to assist States on the continent in processing and destroying weapons surrendered to authorities as part of “Africa Amnesty Month”.

Countries also met the conditions for the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, the first multilateral nuclear disarmament treaty to be negotiated in over 20 years.

Meanwhile, through its #Youth4Disarmament initiative, the Office for Disarmament Affairs supported young people’s engagement, education and empowerment in disarmament with online training programmes and a new website offering career resources, stories from young people and details on upcoming youth‑oriented events.  [Visit:  https://youth4disarmament.org/]

Recognized as the best Coalition Building Project of 2020 by a “Billion Acts of Peace” award, that project connects geographically diverse young people with experts to learn about current international security challenges, the work of the United Nations and how to actively participate.

Key findings from the Yearbook are available on an easy‑to‑use dedicated website, making them easily accessible to diplomats, scholars, journalists and the public.  For more information, please visit:  https://yearbook.unoda.org/2020/.

Contact:  Diane Barnes, editor-in-chief.  Email:  diane.barnes@un.org.

For information media. Not an official record.