New York

26 September 2016

Deputy Secretary-General's remarks to the High Level Plenary Meeting to Commemorate the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons [as delivered]

Mr Acting President,
Distinguished Delegates,
I am honoured to join you on behalf of the Secretary-General as we observe the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.  The Secretary-General is, like the President of the General Assembly, in Colombia today for a happy occasion as we all know.   
I convey to the President of the General Assembly our thanks for organizing this important meeting, coming near a number of auspicious commemorations.
Next February, the world will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Tlatelolco Treaty. This landmark treaty was the first to prohibit nuclear weapons in a densely populated region. It has served as a model and inspiration for future nuclear-weapon-free zones.
Just a few days ago, the world marked the twentieth anniversary of the opening for signature of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). The Secretary-General strongly supports all efforts to uphold the international norm against nuclear testing, pending the Treaty’s entry into force.
One day before that anniversary, on 23 September, the Security Council adopted a resolution in support of the CTBT.   This was welcomed, among many others around the world, by the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  In noting this action by the Council, the Secretary-General acknowledged the commitment of the nuclear-weapon States to uphold their moratorium on nuclear tests.
But this resolution is not a substitute for the entry-into-force of the CTBT.  Rather, it is a wake-up call for us all to accelerate efforts towards the full implementation of the Treaty.
As we scan the global horizon, we face growing nuclear dangers.
Progress in multilateral nuclear disarmament has come to a standstill. 
Tens of billions of dollars have been put aside by governments to maintain and upgrade already huge nuclear weapon systems.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has repeatedly defied the norm against nuclear testing and the will of the international community in an irresponsible pursuit of nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities.
Sadly, several countries continue to include nuclear deterrence in their security doctrines. But let us recall that recent developments have proved that nuclear weapons do not ensure peace and security. Rather, their development and possession has become a major source of growing international tensions.
Meanwhile, we see deepening divisions on the future of multilateral nuclear disarmament. The next review cycle of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT) begins in 2017. The world cannot afford another period of dangerous inaction.
As the Secretary-General has often said, there are many possible paths to a nuclear-weapon-free world if there is a sufficient degree of political will. May today’s event in New York serve as a reminder that all paths should only lead to one destination – the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
I thank you for your dedication and active commitment to this cause.  I wish you progress and, ultimately, success in your continued work to achieve a peaceful, more stable and nuclear-weapon-free world.
Thank you.