As a major review conference on nuclear non-proliferation enters its final week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today exhorted nations to look beyond their own interests to achieve wide-ranging goals on disarmament.
More than 100 nations have converged on United Nations Headquarters in New York this month for a five-yearly gathering to discuss how to further full implementation and enhance the universality of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
“There is too much at stake for the conference to end in failure, as it did last time,” Mr. Ban told reporters at his monthly press conference, urging delegations to embrace pragmatism and abandon rhetoric.
Countries, he emphasized, must seize the “aspiration of the international community that we must realize a world free of nuclear weapons.”
The Secretary-General stressed that “we must not repeat the failure” of the last review conference, held in 2005, which wrapped up without any substantive agreement having been reached.
Although the current gathering got off to a good start, the pace of negotiations has slowed, the Secretary-General said, especially on the issues of the universality of the NPT’s membership and the establishment of a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East.
“There are some divergent views among the States parties,” he noted, adding that he will work with the current conference’s President, Ambassador Libran N. Cabactulan of the Philippines, to promote progress in the talks.
Despite some differences of opinion, Mr. Ban said, “the will to succeed has been clear” during the gathering.
“Many constructive proposals have been put on the table” covering all three of the NPT’s pillars: disarmament, non-proliferation and the peaceful uses of energy, he pointed out.
“We have reached a crucial stage,” the Secretary-General underscored. “It is time for an agreement.”
At the start of the month-long review conference, he urged nations to take decision action to build a safer world. “We have a choice: to leave a legacy of fear and inaction… or to act with vision, courage and leadership,” he told participants.
“We all know it is possible,” Mr. Ban said of disarmament and non-proliferation, which have been among his top priorities since taking office in 2007.
He characterized the NPT, the cornerstone of the world’s nuclear non-proliferation regime, as one of the most important global treaties ever reached.
With the nuclear threat still real, “we need this regime as much as ever,” Mr. Ban underscored.