Senior UN official calls on countries to end stalemate on disarmament

Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré
Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

Senior UN official calls on countries to end stalemate on disarmament

A senior United Nations official called today on countries to boost their efforts and find common ground to reach an agreement and end the existing impasse within the world’s sole multilateral disarmament negotiating forum.

“The level of frustration is approaching a tipping point,” said Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to the Conference of Disarmament (CD), which began last month in Geneva. “The time left to produce tangible results during this session is shrinking rapidly.”

Mr. Tokayev stressed that in the absence of agreement on a programme of work, the conference should focus on alternative issues where common ground might be found, such as a longer presidency and broader membership.

While he acknowledged that critics may find “housekeeping” measures futile, he underlined the importance of procedural reform to generate political will. “Now is exactly the moment to effectively address issues that are long overdue,” he told the conference.

Mr. Tokayev also underscored the importance of negotiations between Member States to address concerns about respecting national security interests.

“I call on all members to pursue their national security interests by building bridges with others through a process of negotiations. I have also noted that a number of members of the conference have not yet taken a public position with regard to its future. It is important that all those present in this chamber speak up and make their stance known,” he said.

Established in 1979 as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community, the CD 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.

Mr. Tokayev urged countries to be frank and realistic and to allow the CD to live up to its mandate as the world’s single multilateral negotiating body on this issue.

“The current situation has created a serious credibility and legitimacy deficit. The future of the conference is at stake,” he said. “Let us not forget our duty to coming generations: a world at peace. Just like climate change, nuclear weapons present an existential threat to our collective future. Disarmament and non-proliferation are absolutely indispensable to realizing our common vision of a better world for all. The time to act is now.”