United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today expressed disappointment in the minimal progress made in curbing the threats posed by accumulation of weapons of mass destruction and conventional weapons, calling for increased global cooperation to address disarmament issues.
“Unfortunately, we seem to be in a rut where setbacks in the field of disarmament have become the norm, not an exception,” Mr. Ban said in an address to the UN Disarmament Commission at its first meeting this year at UN Headquarters in New York.
He said the current “unacceptable” situation is evidenced by the failure of the 2005 review conference of Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament and the need for new impetus for the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
Although nuclear weapons threaten mass destruction, he also warned that of the devastating cumulative damages inflicted daily by conventional weapons, such as small arms, anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions.
To counter such dangers, multilateral cooperation is essential, and existing treaties must be strengthened, he told the Commission, a subsidiary body of the General Assembly established in 1952.
Calling disarmament one of his personal priorities, Mr. Ban voiced hope that the new Office for Disarmament Affairs, which will replace the current Department for Disarmament Affairs, will “better mobilize the political will necessary to overcome the current stalemate and re-energize action on both disarmament and non-proliferation.”
He thanked the General Assembly for its support for his proposal, which he presented to the 192-member body in February, and said that he will soon appoint a High Representative to head the new Office.
Mr. Ban called on the Commission to establish the consensus among Member States necessary to promote nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation in preparation for the upcoming preparatory meeting for the 2010 NPT Review Conference.
“Your deliberations can also consider measures that help ensure the continuing relevance and strength of the NPT,” he said, of the landmark treaty which entered into force in 1970, and to date has been ratified by 190 Parties.
He also said it is necessary to seek a middle path to alleviate the pressure on countries to amass conventional arms while “safeguarding the legitimate right to self-defence of all Member States.