Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on the world’s sole multilateral disarmament negotiating forum to overcome its decade-long deadlock and begin substantive work, warning that the very credibility of the United Nations body is at stake.
“The world’s multilateral disarmament machinery should deliver more and more quickly,” Mr. Ban said in his address to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. “I call on you to become a first harbinger of hope for 2011 in the field of disarmament…
“The next few years will be critical,” he continued, stressing the need to build on the hard-won momentum of recent years. “We can push forward on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, or risk sliding back.”
The Conference on Disarmament, Mr. Ban noted, is the “undisputed home of international arms control efforts,” and has had a unique role since its inception, including by producing landmark treaties to promote international security while demonstrating that multilateral collaboration can serve the global and national interest alike.
“However, the Conference’s record of achievement has been overshadowed by inertia that has now lasted for more than a decade. The very credibility of this body is at risk. Continued inaction will only endanger its future as a multilateral negotiating forum,” Mr. Ban warned.
“Indeed, there appears to be a disconnect between the Conference on Disarmament and the recent positive developments in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation,” he added, referring to the new nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and Russia and the successful review held in 2010 by the parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
“This should not be another year of business-as-usual,” he told delegates, urging them to overcome their differences and start substantive work in 2011.
“The continued deadlock has ominous implications for international security,” warned the Secretary-General. “The longer it persists, the graver the nuclear threat – from existing arsenals, from the proliferation of such weapons, and from their possible acquisition by terrorists.”
Established in 1979 as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community, the CD – as the Conference is known – primarily focuses on cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament, prevention of nuclear war, and prevention of an arms race in outer space, among other things.