Deeply troubled by the impasse in the work of the world’s only multilateral disarmament negotiating forum, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today renewed his call to countries to move forward in a spirit of compromise to improve the global security climate.
“The Conference on Disarmament has accomplished a great deal – but its successes are distant memories,” Mr. Ban stated at the opening of the 2008 session of the Geneva-based body, which has not been able to agree on a programme of work for 10 years.
He noted that even with widespread agreement on the gravity of threats to international peace and security, the Conference has still not been able to find common cause to address them.
“This body has not lost its relevance – but it is in danger of losing its way,” Mr. Ban said, highlighting the need to make progress in disarmament.
Progress is crucial since concerted disarmament will forestall arms races, he pointed out. This, in turn, will free up resources – which would have been diverted to armaments – that can be used to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the eight global targets to eliminate poverty and other ills by 2015.
But failing to advance disarmament breaks this chain, and a disarmament stalemate can also jeopardize other key UN goals, he warned, stressing the importance of the Conference’s current session as well as the UN’s overall efforts to improve the global security climate.
Mr. Ban recalled that last year, the Conference “had been poised to resume its role as the world’s pre-eminent disarmament negotiating body,” with the six Presidents having crafted a proposal for negotiations to begin on a treaty to ban the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices – and to focus on other core issues.
“When you were at the verge of reaching a decision on this draft presidential decision last June, I called on you to move forward in a spirit of compromise to seize that historic opportunity,” Mr. Ban told delegates. “You did not.”
The Secretary-General renewed his call to the Conference, stressing that it had “great potential” to move forward this year.
“I call on foreign ministers and other political leaders to come to the Conference on Disarmament and encourage a return to productive work. Top-level political leadership and cooperation can forge a fresh consensus on future projects,” he stated.