Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today encouraged nations to break the deadlock that has hindered global disarmament talks in recent years, stressing that making progress in this area will free up vitally important resources for development at a time when the world is facing a financial crunch.
“The international community must advance beyond the stalemate that continues to hinder our work for disarmament and nuclear proliferation,” Mr. Ban said in remarks to the Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters, which is currently meeting in New York.
Recent years have witnessed an impasse in the Conference on Disarmament, the world’s only multilateral disarmament negotiating forum, which has not been able to agree on a programme of work for 10 years.
The failure of the 2005 review conference of Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and the need for new impetus for the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty have also been cited as setbacks by Mr. Ban in the past.
He told the Advisory Board that the global financial crisis is only the latest reminder of the high opportunity costs associated with massive investments in weaponry.
“At a time of fiscal cutbacks and constraints, global military expenditures run to about $1.3 trillion each year,” he stated, adding that a fraction of that amount could help guide the international community out of the food crisis, reach the globally agreed anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and tackle climate change.
“While disarmament and non-proliferation are urgent goals in their own right, they are also linked inextricably to development, human rights and peace. By achieving progress in disarmament, we free up vast resources to meet other challenges,” the Secretary-General stressed.
This year the Board will be considering cyber warfare and its impact on international security, as well as the equally critical issue of verification.
“After many years of setbacks, there are now grounds for cautious optimism about the future of nuclear disarmament,” said Mr. Ban. “We have seen a cascade of useful disarmament proposals in the past two years, and virtually all of them place a heavy emphasis on the importance of verification.”
The Secretary-General called for cooperation to achieve a breakthrough in global disbarment discussions, saying “the time is ripe to end the disbarment deadlock.”