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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Annan says breakdown in disarmament poses a threat to multilateral system

21 September 2005 The failure of the non-proliferation treaty review and the lack of results and progress on disarmament are weakening the system of legal norms and pose a threat to world peace and multilateralism, according to a new report by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the General Assembly.

Therefore it is urgent for States “to renew their commitments to Treaty principles on non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament and the right of States to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes,” he says in a report regarding the work of the Advisory Board on Disarmament.

This is particularly important because the July 2005 Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear weapons failed to achieve consensus beforehand, he concludes.

Near-term multilateral agreements on fuel cycle and fissile material control, as well as restrictions on the building of any further materials, should be voluntary, not mandatory, and countries that already have advanced nuclear programmes need to work actively to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons – whether they are party to the non-proliferation treaty or not, the report says.

Recognizing that small arms and light weapons threaten human security and human rights, there was agreement by the Board on slowing and controlling the proliferation and illicit trade in arms by developing globally agreed-upon norms and guidelines.

Cooperation among States on an international level are important in controlling the flow of light arms, especially in post-conflict situations, the report concludes, including cooperation “even between the General Assembly and the Security Council,” and the UN and the World Bank, in order to tackle the problem in “a comprehensive and integrated manner.” The report also calls for specialized, regional approaches to promote disarmament.

“The issues of poverty, rivalries over resource control, governance and social and political justice should be addressed with urgency,” it says, because these conditions also lead to an increase in small arms and light weapons use.


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