Promoting the Global Instruments of Nonproliferation and Disarmament

June 03, 2011

On May 31, 2011 the Permanent Missions of Japan, Poland, and Turkey, in collaboration with the Stimson Center's Managing Across Boundaries program, hosted a day-long UN conference "Promoting the Global Instruments of Nonproliferation and Disarmament: The United Nations and the Nuclear Challenge." The event took place at the Japan Society in New York City and convened 150 participants representing 62 United Nations missions, as well as leading experts in the nonproliferation, disarmament and transnational security fields.  Distinguished speakers included United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon; H.E. Mr. Tsuneo Nishida, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations; H.E. Mr. Witold Sobków, Ambassador to the Permanent Mission of Poland to the United Nations; H.E. Mr. Ertuğrul Apakan, Ambassador to the Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations; and Stimson Center president Ellen Laipson.

The event examined current trends in nuclear nonproliferation with particular focus on new challenges presented by globalization. The conference also explored the intimate connection between nonproliferation and international development, considering how arms control mechanisms can positively impact socio-economic stability in developing countries. In his opening remarks, Ambassador Nishida of Japan commended the recent progress made in nonproliferation and disarmament, but urged the international community to intensify efforts in achieving a nuclear free world. Ambassador Apakan of Turkey reminded participants of the urgency of the proliferation threat, noting gaps in existing international nonproliferation frameworks, difficulty in implementing nonproliferation instruments, and barriers in crafting new effective and innovative nonproliferation and disarmament initiatives. Ambassador Sobków of Poland discussed the importance of having a nonproliferation and disarmament forum in New York, as it hosts a wide array of international organizations dedicated to nonproliferation, disarmament, and nuclear energy. As such, it is an ideal setting for fostering a new quality of cooperation among relevant NGOs, industries, and governments.

During the first morning panel, Ms. Laipson noted how nonproliferation mechanisms today are directly relevant to capacity building on a range of international security and development areas and that the international community could capitalize on dual benefit opportunities to ameliorate them simultaneously.  Mr. George Perkovich of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace described a global view of the WMD environment, noting the growing relationship between state and sub-state entities in the proliferation process.  Ms. Hannelore Hoppe of the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs and Mr. Piero Bonadeo of the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime discussed how nonproliferation intersects with other significant transnational threats, including the circulation of small arms and light weapons, as well as drug and human trafficking.  Experts from the Committees of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1718, 1737, and 1540 extended the conversation by providing a brief status report on the activities of the relevant United Nations resolutions on nonproliferation and disarmament, as well as the challenges facing each UN Security Council Committees.

During his keynote address, Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon reiterated his commitment to nonproliferation and disarmament, and called on the United Nations Security Council to prioritizing these issues, particularly the ways in which nonproliferation and disarmament are intimately connected with other challenges such as poverty and climate change. The Secretary General also emphasized the need for urgent action on disarmament, claiming that he hopes that one day the use of nuclear weapons not only become improbable, but impossible.

Afternoon sessions featured smaller roundtable discussions between diplomats and experts that concentrated on establishing a new approach in strengthening the current international framework on nuclear security, disarmament and proliferation. Recommendations regarding effective implementation of relevant United Nations resolutions were discussed, as well as the role of non-binding international agreement and partnerships with the private sector in achieving nonproliferation goals.

To see the agenda for this event please click here.

For a brochure on the Managing Across Boundaries program please click here.


Photo credit: Mark McQueen