UN discussions of General and Complete Disarmament

Over the last several years, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs have discussed General and Complete Disarmament (GCD) more regularly.

Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu

In June 2017, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu, addressed the final session of the open-ended working group on a fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament. In her speech, she spoke about how all nuclear-armed states continue to invest billions into their weapons, while the pursuit of reductions in arsenals “seems to have come to a halt.”

She also added challenges to disarmament efforts reach beyond the nuclear field, adding “the illicit trade in small arms and their ammunition continues to devastate already-fragile societies, hampering their abilities to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The use of chemical weapons has caused unspeakable human suffering and is undermining the global
norm against these unacceptable weapons.”

But, she said, in spite of all this she remains optimistic.

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Mr. Kim Won-soo

In April 2017, acting UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Mr. Kim Won-soo, didn’t mince words in his opening remarks to the 2017 Session of the United Nations Disarmament Commission. He warned: “We are witnessing rising global and regional tensions; new and destabilising arms competitions in both strategic and conventional weapons; worrying policy trends that threaten to roll back the gains made since the end of the Cold War; and a dearth of outcomes from disarmament institutions, including this body.

“We need to work harder to reverse these trends.”

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At a speech at the UN General Assembly in New York in March 2017, acting UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Mr. Kim Won-soo, warns that the Doomsday Clock– which measures how close humanity is to global catastrophe– was set at two and a half minutes to midnight in January 2017, stating “This is the worst since 1953 and worse than even at the height of the Cold War.”

He says to move forward we need to modernize our historical vision of general and complete disarmament, explaining: “This approach has led to important instruments, including the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones as well as bans on nuclear testing, various inhumane weapons, anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions.”

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Ms. Angela Kane

At a speech in Prague, in December 2014, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Ms. Angela Kane, set-up the agenda for the 2015 Review Conference of the States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons by remarking that “nuclear disarmament contributes to peace and security, yet it also benefits from progress in cultivating a wider environment of trust, cooperation and mutual confidence.”

She added “as we reduce and eliminate nuclear weapons, we must also limit conventional arms, substantially improve existing mechanisms and institutions for resolving disputes peacefully, and promote even larger goals of justice and prosperity.”

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At a speech in Moscow in November 2014, then UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Ms. Angela Kane, warned that “possession without disarmament… invites nuclear proliferation,” and pushed for the Russian Federation and the United States to fulfil the disarmament commitments made at Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conferences and in Article VI of the treaty itself.

Explaining: “The more these are reflected in actions by the Russian Federation and United States, the brighter will be prospects for—getting other nuclear-weapon possessor states into the disarmament process, halting the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and achieving nuclear disarmament.”

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Copies of these speeches were first hosted on the UN website.

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