With virtual stagnation on the disarmament front despite heightened global concern over the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and the risk of them falling into terrorist hands, a senior United Nations official today called for urgent new momentum, especially with regard to nuclear arms.
“Recent developments have further tested the effectiveness of multilateral disarmament machinery,” Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs Nobuaki Tanaka told the UN Disarmament Commission as it opened its annual session in New York.
“The Commission’s recent record has itself been far from satisfactory. In 2003 the session concluded without reaching consensus on concrete proposals to advance nuclear disarmament or confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms. No consensus was achieved on agenda items for its 2004 and 2005 sessions and no substantive meetings were held in 2005,” he said.
“In 2006 I believe that we have to do better. It falls in large measure to this session of the Commission to provide fresh momentum. One should not lose such an opportunity. It is imperative that we draw lessons from the setbacks that we witnessed last year,” he added, stressing that the lack of consensus on disarmament and non-proliferation at the 2005 UN Summit showed how much work remains to be done.
The Commission, a subsidiary body of the General Assembly established in 1952, generally considers two items each year, including one nuclear-related topic.
Mr. Tanaka said that Secretary-General Kofi Annan had encapsulated the nature of the difficulties and set them in their wider context when he told the Summit that Members States gad inexcusably let posturing thwart results at both at that meeting and at the failed review conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
“It is our responsibility, more than ever, to use this opportunity to strengthen the disarmament machinery to effectively deal with new emerging threats and challenges,” Mr. Tanaka declared. “It is to be hoped therefore that over the next three weeks you will be able to provide guidance on the fundamental question of complete nuclear disarmament.”
But he also warned that he preponderant focus on the WMD threat should not lessen the attention given to the regulation and reduction of conventional arms and armed forces.
“Despite the fact that much progress has been made by the international community in certain areas, such as for instance in addressing the problem of illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons, their proliferation continues to pose a serious threat to peace and security in too many regions of the world,” he warned.