New York

28 January 2020

Secretary-General's message to the 2020 Session of the Conference on Disarmament

[delivered by Ms. Tatiana Valovaya, Director-General, United Nations Office at Geneva]

Our world entered 2020 with uncertainty and insecurity all around.  One of the most significant drivers of this unease is – to put it bluntly -- the atrophying state of our disarmament instruments, institutions and aspirations.
Landmark arms control instruments that maintained stability and created the conditions for reduced reliance on nuclear weapons have been abandoned.  New arms competition is quickly filling the void.

In the absence of strengthened regimes for building trust and confidence, dangerous flashpoints are emerging.  Meanwhile, new weapons technologies are moving forward with unclear or possibly destabilizing applications.

All these troubling developments undermine peace.  And they are among the driving factors behind my decision two years ago to launch “Securing Our Common Future: An Agenda for Disarmament”.

Since then, United Nations entities have worked to advance this agenda and forge new partnerships.  A number of Member States have stepped forward to champion or support specific actions.
Yet it is clear that much more must be done to overcome deep divisions that contribute to, among other things, the paralysis that has crippled this body for the past two decades.
That is why I am actively exploring what more the United Nations can do to contribute to a new vision for disarmament.  I look forward to engaging with you in this endeavor in the months ahead.

Such an approach could lay the groundwork for a new consensus on collectively improving the international situation.  It would also make a practical contribution to a long overdue revitalization of this body and its agenda.
We do not have a moment to lose.   In recent times, we have seen the demise of the Treaty on Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces, the precarious state of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and the uncertainty surrounding the fate of the New START Treaty.
Our world simply cannot afford to lose pillars of the international disarmament and arms control architecture without viable alternatives.

This Conference was established to serve as the premier international negotiating body for solving hard questions of arms and security.

The delegations assembled here represent some of the best expertise in international security and disarmament.  It is only natural that you should be at the forefront of the strategic dialogue our world needs to secure our common future.

I am encouraged by the increasing partnership and collaboration amongst the Presidents of the Conference.  I hope your active leadership brings this Conference back to its original purpose in 2020.