UN: Report back from the UN Security Council briefing on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction


by Vittoria Valentina Di Gennaro
Communications Assistant

(This article is based on the reports of Mary Yelenick, Pax Christi International representative to the UN in New York, who attended the briefing as a guest of the President of Kazakhstan.)

23/1/18 - On 18 January 2018, the United Nations Security Council High-Level Briefing on Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction was held in New York.

In keeping with its own demonstrable historic commitment to nuclear disarmament, Kazakhstan convened the session with a high-level briefing on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Kazakhstan entered the second half of its two-year term on the United Nations Security Council as one of the 10 elected, rotating members (and the first Central Asian nation to do so), serving as President of the Security Council during the month of January 2018.

Interest in the meeting was high with the participation of each of the 15 members at the Security Council chambers delivering prepared remarks.

The Central Asian perspective was refreshing, youthful, and forward-looking: dozens of young people were present; the visitors’ galleries, too, were popular.

President Nazarbayev proudly reminded the assembly that Kazakhstan was one of the countries that had, many years ago – while in possession of the “fourth largest nuclear arsenal" in the world – made the decision voluntarily to eliminate nuclear weapons from its soil. He also stated the importance of helping to ensure human survival, through a world free of nuclear weapons, emphasising the importance of conflict prevention and confidence-building measures, such as nuclear-free zones, multilateral treaties, and diplomatic dialogue.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres delivered a statement decrying recent developments, including tension on the Korean Peninsula, the lack of trust between the United States and Russia, the attempts to undermine the agreement with Iran, the use of chemical weapons, and the increase in military budgets.

President Duda of Poland criticised the ineffectiveness of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), observing that it rested less on a rigorous compliance mechanism than upon a “gentlemen’s agreement”.

Others making statements included representatives from Kuwait, calling for the dismantling of nuclear arsenals; Bolivia, calling for an analysis of the “structural policies leading to disputes” and decrying the “exorbitant” funding of militarism to the detriment of addressing humanitarian goals and poverty; and, among the others, Peru, Sweden, France, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, the Netherlands, Equatorial Guinea.

On the other hand, the Russian representative said that Russia did not intend to sign the Nuclear Ban Treaty, since it is important to consider “regional stability": the Treaty would have a “destabilising effect on the nuclear regime.”

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley praised the NPT characterising North Korea as posing the greatest risk to the world and argued for the imposition of the strictest sanctions. 

Mark Field, the UK Minister, lauded the NPT, but on the other hand he pointed out that the UK would not sign the Nuclear Ban Treaty, arguing that a “gradual, multilateral disarmament is the way to go.”

(Photo by Mary Yelenick)




Advocacy Priority: Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty



Kazakhstan, Mary Yelenick, Vittoria Valentina Di Gennaro, United Nations, Security Council