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Remarks by the Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament - 13 August 2020

13 August 2020
Remarks by the Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament - 13 August 2020

13 AUGUST 2020

Mr. President, Ambassador Ahsan,
Distinguished delegates,

2020 is a year of important anniversaries in the field of disarmament.

We celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, the symbol of multilateralism and cooperation, that emerged from the ashes of the second world war.

A few days ago, we marked the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which brought sorrow and devastation to hundreds of thousands of people for generations. As the UN Secretary-General said at the Nagasaki Peace Memorial, “the international community must return to the understanding that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. There is an urgent need to stop the erosion of the nuclear order. All countries possessing nuclear weapons have an obligation to lead.”

This year, we also celebrate the 50 th anniversary of the entry into force of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. To date, it is the only binding commitment to the goal of disarmament by the nuclear-weapon States in the framework of a multilateral treaty.

As we look forward to its Review Conference, as we mark the events in Nagasaki and Hiroshima and as we commemorate the United Nations, we must do so with a view to overcoming the current global situation of insecurity, of the lack of trust and cooperation among States, and of the diminished faith in and support for the very multilateral institution that was designed to maintain global peace and security.

Remembering these landmark moments from our common history is not an end in itself.

Rather, it should provide the impetus to address important questions on the way forward in disarmament.

It should generate momentum to do more to counter the erosion of the disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation regime.

It should encourage constructive work to negotiate new global legal instruments - including in this Conference.

We ought to jointly reflect on these issues and what they mean for this Conference, which remains an extraordinary platform for dialogue and confidence-building.

I am therefore encouraged by your determination to resume meetings of the Conference and stand ready, with the Secretariat, to support your work.

Distinguished delegates,

In my capacity as Director-General of UNOG, allow me also to say a few words on the status of meetings-support at UNOG.

As you know, we have installed equipment in several rooms allowing for remote and hybrid meetings, when delegates cannot be in Geneva. However, the associated costs are significant.

At the same time, the United Nations Secretariat is facing a severe liquidity crisis. While we are sparing no effort to identify ways to re-prioritize and make bridge funding available, UNOG has not received sufficient funding for normal operations through to the year’s end, while also facing unforeseen expenses related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

We will be briefing Member States in Geneva on the situation, measures and outlook going forward in 2020 soon.

Meanwhile, I wish to reassure you that all possible measures have been taken to make these conference rooms a safe place to be in: from assigning large conference rooms to enable social distancing, to a request to wear masks, to ensuring constant supply of fresh air.

In this light and given that our ability to support hybrid meetings for intergovernmental bodies remains limited, I would encourage you to consider resuming physical meetings soon, allowing you to continue your important work to the fullest extent.

In both my capacities, as Director-General of UNOG and Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament, I stand ready with my respective teams to extend the maximum support possible to the intergovernmental process in this vitally important area of peace and security that is the multilateral disarmament efforts of you, the Member States.

Thank you.