Yearbook of the United Nations, 2007. Part 1, Political and security questions. Chapter 7, Disarmament
The United Nations took a major step in 2007 towards reforming and advancing the international disarmament and non-proliferation agenda through the establishment of an Office for Disarmament Affairs that would interact more effectively with the Secretary-General in addressing global disarmament issues. Headed by a High Representative, the new Office would replace the Department for Disarmament Affairs and assume its functions and mandate in terms of providing organizational support for norm-setting in the field of disarmament. In his February proposals for the reform, the Secretary-General highlighted the disarmament challenges facing Member States, including the lack of meaningful outcomes of a number of disarmament meetings and conferences in recent years, the lack of progress in the work of the Organization's sole multilateral disarmament negotiating body—the Conference on Disarmament—and the delayed entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. Those setbacks underscored the need for determined leadership at the highest level to revitalize the disarmament agenda through a more focused effort and a greater role and involvement of the Secretary-General. In a number of other instances during the year, the lack of consensus continued to block the progress of disarmament-related initiatives, most notably regarding the work of the open-ended working group established to consider the objectives and agenda for a fourth special session of the Assembly devoted to disarmament, and in the work of the Disarmament Commission, the Organization's deliberative disarmament body. Against that background, the Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters, which advised the Secretary-General on disarmament questions, advocated a pragmatic approach in resolving current disarmament and non-proliferation difficulties and greater cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations, while the General Assembly stressed the need for the Conference on Disarmament to break the deadlock among delegates and commence substantive work. In July, the Secretary-General reported relative progress in the field of nuclear disarmament, noting that the total number of nuclear weapons currently in existence was estimated at 27,000, the lowest level in four decades. Nevertheless, challenges remained, relating in particular to the issues of transparency, irreversibility, the verification of existing nuclear weapons and their reductions, persisting proliferation threats and the possible acquisition of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) by non-State actors. To address those threats, the Secretary-General launched early in the year a new online Counter Terrorism Handbook, designed to strengthen Member States' capacity to combat terrorism. Addressing the same threats, the Security Council held an open debate to explore cooperation between the Council and international organizations in implementing Council resolutions for preventing the proliferation of WMDs. The General Assembly also adopted resolutions addressing measures towards the same end. Those efforts were reinforced by the July entry into force of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. The Secretary-General established a Panel of Governmental Experts to assist him in exploring solutions to the equally disturbing risk of the proliferation of missiles and related technology, and in August, the States parties to the Biological Weapons Convention adopted a harmonized domestic mechanism to serve as a basic guide facilitating the national implementation of the Convention. Member States also continued during the year to address conventional weapons issues and challenges, with the General Assembly according urgent consideration to related arms control efforts at the regional and subregional levels. The Security Council, concerned that the accumulation of small arms and light weapons intensified armed conflicts, undermined peace agreements and compromised the Council's effectiveness in discharging its duties, requested the Secretary-General to submit biennial reports, effective 2008, outlining recommendations for dealing with the problem, within the framework of the Programme of Action adopted at the 2001 UN Conference on small arms. The Assembly adopted three resolutions urging action against the illicit trade or transfer of those arms and on assistance to States in curbing the problem. In ongoing efforts to secure an international conventional arms control regime for the effective management of small arms and light weapons, the Secretary-General submitted, in August, the views of 100 Member States on the feasibility, scope and draft parameters for a comprehensive and legally binding arms trade treaty establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms. Also in the course of the year, the Secretary-General transmitted to the General Assembly for consideration the report and recommendations of the Group of Governmental Experts established in 2006 to consider further steps to enhance international cooperation in preventing, combating and eradicating illicit brokering in small arms and light weapons. Efforts continued to further promote the implementation of the International Instrument to enable States to identify and trace illicit small arms and light weapons. Disturbed by the capacity for excessive injury of a number of other categories of conventional arms and ammunition, the States parties to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May be Deemed to be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects asked a Group of Governmental Experts to draft a proposal addressing the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions, which was a particularly lethal variant of those weapons. In a related development, a group of Member States convened a global conference in Oslo, Norway, and adopted the Oslo Declaration recognizing the grave consequences of the use of cluster munitions and committed themselves to conclude, by 2008, a legally binding instrument prohibiting their use, production, transfer and stockpiling. Member States also continued to address disarmament challenges from a human rights and human security perspective, within the framework of the Geneva-based United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research. At the bilateral level, the United States and the Russian Federation held talks during the year to consider the shape and nature of a future strategic arms control arrangement to replace the 1991 Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms agreement, which had committed both sides to limit the number of nuclear warheads they could each deploy and which was scheduled to expire in 2009. Both sides also continued to implement their 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (Moscow Treaty), under which they had agreed to whittle down the level of their deployed strategic nuclear warheads by December 2012. Landmark disarmament events commemorated during the year included the tenth anniversary of the entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997; the tenth anniversary of the opening for signature of the Mine-Ban Convention in 1997; and the fortieth anniversary of the Outer Space Treaty, adopted in 1967.
UN - UN. General Assembly - UN. Security Council - IAEA - UN. Conference on Disarmament - UN. Disarmament Commission - INTERNATIONAL SECURITY - DISARMAMENT - NUCLEAR WEAPONS - CHEMICAL WEAPONS - BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS - NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION - CONVENTIONAL WEAPONS - MINE CLEARANCE - SMALL ARMS - RADIOACTIVE WASTE MANAGEMENT - TREATIES
Yearbook of the United Nations, 2007. v. 61; Vol. 61
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