Need for world free of nuclear weapons more urgent than ever, says UN disarmament chief

15 June 2017

Negotiations on the first-ever treaty to ban nuclear weapons resumed today in New York, with the United Nations disarmament chief expressing hope that the talks result in an effective instrument that “complements and strengthens” existing ones.

“These talks are truly historic, as they represent the most significant negotiations in the area of nuclear disarmament,” Izumi Nakamitsu, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, told the second session of the UN Conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons.

“Nuclear disarmament has been the longest sought objective of the United Nations, dating back to the very first resolution adopted by the General Assembly, in January 1946,” she said, referring to the body's decision to establish a Commission charged with, among other tasks, making specific proposals for the 'control of atomic energy to ensure its use only for peaceful purposes,' and 'the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction.'

During this resumed session, delegates will deliberate on a draft of the treaty that has been tabled by Conference President Whyte Gómez of Costa Rica. The first session was held in March.

Ms. Nakamitsu expressed hope that the talks produce an effective instrument that complements and strengthens the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the treaties establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones.

Also highlighting the need for systematic measures and steps to facilitate the elimination of nuclear weapons, she said it will be critical that the outcome of negotiations “build a bridge to the future” in order to facilitate the inclusive engagement needed to achieve the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

As of now, nuclear-weapons-States are absent in the negotiations.

An instrument legally sound, technically accurate and politically wise

To accomplish these aims, she believes “great care should be taken in finalizing an instrument that is legally sound, technically accurate and politically wise.”

With the growing urgency posed by the deteriorating international security landscape and by the new awareness of the devastating humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, “the need for progress is clear,” she said. “And yet there seem to be no near-term prospects for further reductions.”

Amid some scepticism about further pursuing nuclear disarmament, she stressed that “measures for disarmament have served historically as a means to ease international tensions and to prevent conflict.”

Supported by the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, the conference will run through 7 July.


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