Recent “encouraging” developments in the disarmament arena have provided a crucial window of opportunity for the international community to achieve its non-proliferation goals, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.
“This is a very rare momentum created [by] the international community,” Mr. Ban told the UN News Centre today in a joint interview with UN Radio and UN Television.
In May, the Conference on Disarmament – the world’s sole multilateral forum for disarmament negotiations – adopted a Programme of Work for its 2009 session, ending a 12-year stalemate and allowing the body to negotiate and substantively discuss strategic disarmament and non-proliferation.
Further, Russia and the United States committed in July to cut their strategic warheads to between 1,500 and 1,675 and their strategic delivery vehicles to between 500 and 1,000, as part of the Joint Understanding for a follow-on agreement to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).
Later this month, US President Barack Obama will chair a meeting of the Security Council focusing on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, including the UN-backed Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).
As Secretary-General, “I will devote my time and energy to making things move,” Mr. Ban said.
In his interview, he also voiced hope that the 64th session of the General Assembly, which kicked off today, will be among “the most historic and crucially important” in the UN’s history, as the world body forges ahead with efforts to combat global challenges ranging from climate change, pandemics and the financial crisis.
On the Middle East, Mr. Ban expressed concern that negotiations on the peace process have not “produced any tangible results despite such a high level of expectations from the international community.”
He said he is optimistic that Mr. Obama and the new US administration will be able to accelerate progress on this front so that Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side in peace.
“This is our vision and this is our commitment,” he underscored.
The Secretary-General recently returned from a visit to Mexico, where he addressed the 62nd annual UN Department of Public Information (DPI) conference with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), whose theme this year was “For Peace and Development: Disarm Now!”
With global military spending topping $1 trillion and rising by the day, he reiterated his appeal to rid the world of nuclear weapons.
“The world is over-armed and peace is under-funded,” Mr. Ban said at the event, which drew over 1,700 representatives from NGOs and experts from 70 countries.
He noted that more weapons continue to be produced and are flooding markets around the world. “They are destabilizing societies. They feed the flames of civil wars and terror,” he stated.