UN Chief Exhorts to Make World Free of Nuclear Weapons

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré (file)
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré (file)

Disarmament can play an important role in ending existing conflicts and preventing the outbreak of new strife, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said Tuesday.

He pledged to actively pursue the abolition of all weapons of mass destruction and the strict regulation of conventional weapons.

“I am committed to achieving a world free of nuclear weapons,” the Secretary-General declared in a video message to the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament, which opened the first segment of its three-part 2017 session on Monday.

Recalling that upon taking office he had described a world of new and old conflicts woven in a complex, interconnected web, Mr. Guterres said that those conflicts have precipitated gross violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.

He said disarmament and arms control processes provide the breathing space for confidence to be built, stability to be strengthened and trust to be established.

“This was true during the Cold War and it is true now,” said the UN chief, stressing that the need for breathing space is more urgent than ever as global tensions are rising, “sabres have been rattled and dangerous words spoken about the use of nuclear weapons.”

“I encourage you to work hard to find compromise and to make the most of your partners in civil society and academia. The United Nations will be your ally and assist however we can,” he concluded.

The Conference on Disarmament, established in 1979 as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community, is not formally a UN body but reports annually, or more frequently as appropriate, to the UN General Assembly.

Michael Møller, the Director-General of the UN Office at Geneva, serves as Secretary-General of the Conference, as well as Mr. Guterres’ personal representative to the body.

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