New York

30 June 2015

Secretary-General's remarks to 64th Session of Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters

Thank you very much for this opportunity to address you.

I am especially grateful to Ambassador Gyarmati for his strong leadership.

I understand you met the new Acting High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Kim Won-soo, twice – on Sunday and yesterday. I received very positive feedback from him before he left on official travel. I count on you to work closely with him toward our common goals.

I am grateful to all members of this valuable Board for your thoughtful and action-oriented recommendations. Over the years, you have made immeasurable contributions to making our world safer and more secure.

You have chosen to focus on three defining issues of our day.

First, the role of arms control in managing conflicts.

Every year some 55,000 people die as a result of conflicts. Millions more are traumatized.

The United Nations just released new figures showing that globally, nearly 60 million people are displaced. That is the highest level ever.

Weapons fan the flames of conflict.

Fighters are using unregulated or illegal weapons and diverting legal ones from legitimate uses.

Arms control can help prevent and end conflicts.

We can advance progress through international agreements. The Arms Trade Treaty and the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons can counter the threat of deadly violence.

Governments should also be more accountable about their arms exports and imports. I encourage all countries to report to the UN Register of Conventional Arms.

The global arms trade should be open to scrutiny. Secrecy undermines trust. When governments are honest about buying and selling weapons, they can earn public confidence – and that builds security.

Distinguished Board members,

I also welcome your attention to new challenges to disarmament and the increasing role of non-state actors.

This second item on your agenda covers a dangerous trend.

I am deeply concerned about the egregious human rights abuses of Da’esh, Al Shabab, Boko Haram, Al Qaida and any other terrorist groups.

Their actions threaten our collective international security.

We need a holistic response to this threat. In November, I will present a Plan of Action on Preventing Violent Extremism to the General Assembly.

It is absolutely critical that we prevent non-State actors from acquiring stockpiles of conventional weapons or sophisticated weapons technologies.

We must especially work to forestall the nightmare scenario of terrorists or other non-State actors acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

I understand from Mr. Kim that you discussed this issue yesterday. I was pleased to hear that you want to hear more about the Plan of Action. I highly appreciate your interest.

ODA will arrange an additional briefing session with the concerned departments so you can contribute to the thinking on a comprehensive strategy to counter and prevent violent extremism.

I look forward to your recommendations on this critical imperative.

Mr. Chairman,
Distinguished Board members,

There is a growing movement for attention to your third priority focus: the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons.

We were all distressed that the NPT Review Conference in May failed to reach a consensus outcome.

As I told participants, this is regrettable – and worrying.

The Conference was also unable to forge a common vision for the creation of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction. 

I repeat my appeal to all States in the region and others with influence to renew their efforts to establish such a zone. This would have obvious benefits for security in the region and the world.

I will do everything I can to advance this goal. I look to this Board for recommendations on what more we can do.

At the Review Conference, 110 States parties supported a pledge to pursue a legal prohibition on nuclear weapons, based on humanitarian concerns.

I hope this momentum will build. I encourage all efforts to bring us closer to our goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.

Distinguished Board members,

Thank you very much for the substantial amount of time you have devoted to your role as the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research.

I also deeply appreciate you assisting UNIDIR in serving as a valuable source of independent disarmament analysis.

I count on your wisdom to help the Institute move beyond its funding constraints.

Above all, I appreciate all of your efforts to provide innovative and insightful solutions to some of the most pressing challenges on the international agenda.

Thank you for your leadership and commitment.