As Conference on Disarmament opens, Annan urges break with recent inactivity

As Conference on Disarmament opens, Annan urges break with recent inactivity

As the Conference on Disarmament opened its 2002 session today in Geneva, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that the threat of terrorism called for a "complete break" with the recent prolonged inactivity of the forum -- the single multilateral negotiating venue for disarmament agreements.

As the Conference on Disarmament opened its 2002 session today in Geneva, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that the threat of terrorism called for a "complete break" with the recent prolonged inactivity of the forum – the single multilateral negotiating venue for disarmament agreements.

"I strongly believe that the representative membership of this Conference gives it the intellectual and political potential to overcome the current stalemate, and I trust you will use that potential to its fullest extent," Mr. Annan said in a message delivered on his behalf by Vladimir Petrovsky, Director-General of the UN Office in Geneva.

The Secretary-General stressed that the events of 11 September and their aftermath had brought home to the world the point that effective disarmament measures were urgently needed to eliminate the risk of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorists.

Among the challenges facing the Conference, Mr. Annan pointed to the abrupt end last year of negotiations on a protocol to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention and the slow progress in achieving the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Despite such stagnation, the Secretary-General highlighted some positive developments, including the substantial reduction in nuclear weapons announced by the United States and the action plan adopted by the Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, which provides a blueprint for international and regional cooperation that may eventually lead to binding international norms.

The Secretary-General also noted that there was some progress within the Conference itself, welcoming the movement in bridging the divergent views and interests of Member States on mechanisms to deal with nuclear disarmament and the prevention of an arms race in outer space.