26 January 2005

Disarmament Is Critical for Conflict Prevention, Peace-Building, Realizing Millennium Goals, Secretary-General Tells Conference on Disarmament

NEW YORK, 25 January (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, delivered today by Sergei Ordhonikidze, Director-General, United Nations Office at Geneva:

It gives me pleasure to send greetings to the Conference on Disarmament as it opens its 2005 session.

The Conference on Disarmament opens its current session with renewed hopes of overcoming the impasse that has impeded its work for so long.  After many years of debate on its programme of work, the Conference engaged itself, albeit informally, in a substantive discussion of issues on its agenda.  You also addressed other issues relevant to the current international security environment, including ways to strengthen compliance with arms control and disarmament agreements, and the threat of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery falling into the hands of terrorists.  The latter issue in particular also received close attention from the Security Council in its resolution 1540, adopted last April.

I have also been encouraged to see the strong political support given to the Conference by foreign ministers who addressed your session last year. Such high-level statements can create political impetus towards reinvigorating the Conference, and I urge you to continue this practice. The Conference might also benefit from establishing closer contacts with other international arms control and disarmament agencies and organizations, and inviting the heads of such bodies to speak on issues of mutual interest.

But the Conference still faces the demanding task of finding ways to move forward.  Disarmament is critical for conflict prevention, peace-building and the realization of the Millennium Development Goals.  Disarmament matters also figured prominently in the report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, and will be a major part of discussions among Member States in the months ahead leading up to September’s summit-level review of the Millennium Declaration.  I call upon the Members of this important forum to seriously consider the Panel’s recommendations.

With so much at stake, I urge you to do your utmost to enable this forum for arms control and disarmament negotiations to play its envisaged role, and to place its accumulated knowledge and experience fully at the service of the world’s people.

Please accept my best wishes for a productive session.

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