Press Releases

    24 February 2005

    Credibility of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Faces Serious Challenges, Secretary-General Tells Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters

    “Additional Protocol” Would Raise Bar for Inspections Standards, He Says

    NEW YORK, 23 February (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s remarks to the Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters (as delivered) in New York, today, 23 February:

    Let me start by thanking you, Ambassador Vicente Berasategui, for agreeing to serve as Chairman of the Board for 2005. I am sure the Board will benefit greatly from your considerable diplomatic experience and expertise in multilateral disarmament.

    Let me also welcome two new members of the Board: Ms. Christiane Isabelle Agboton-Johnson and Mr. Anatoly Antonov. I know you will both bring fresh ideas and inspiration to the group.

    And I hope that this year of all years, you are all coming equipped with a great deal of vision and bold thinking. For this year is a highly important one in the life of the Organization.

    Not only does 2005 mark the sixtieth anniversary of the end of World War Two and the founding of the United Nations -- commemorating six decades throughout which disarmament has been a key item on the UN agenda.

    This year is also one in which we must think ahead, and help plant the seeds of long-term global collective security.

    Next month, I will be placing before the Member States a blueprint for the most far-reaching reform of the international security system since the establishment of the United Nations.

    My report will draw heavily on the recommendations of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, where we brought together 16 prominent men and women, and they put together a report in December, which I’m sure you’ve seen.

    The message is simple:  our global security environment has been transformed, and our global collective security system, including the United Nations, must be transformed too.

    The High-Level Panel report rightly gives prominence to disarmament and non-proliferation issues as critical elements of collective security.  Let me thank the Advisory Board for the comprehensive and well-articulated input you provided to their work.

    Those issues will be the subject of further discussion and debate in the months leading up to the summit meeting due to be held here in September.

    At that meeting, world leaders will review progress in implementing the Millennium Declaration, including our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals -- a blueprint agreed to by all the leaders of the world as a way of building a better world in the twenty-first century.

    I hope that governments will come to the summit ready to take far-reaching measures to adapt and renew the United Nations, and to find effective, collective answers to the challenges of our time.

    This year also marks another milestone: the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

    The NPT has served us extremely well over the past decades. However, the regime faces serious challenges to its credibility.

    The NPT Review Conference in May will test the commitment of all States parties to nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

    I will be urging Member States to agree soon on an agenda for the conference that addresses the most pressing challenges which you and the High-Level Panel have identified.

    Like many of you, I am convinced that efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation must go hand in hand with progress in nuclear disarmament.

    And we all share serious concerns at the prospect of terrorist groups developing, acquiring or using weapons of mass destruction, and their means of delivery.

    That is why the Security Council adopted resolution 1540, requiring all States to adopt effective laws and domestic controls to prevent the proliferation of WMD. These include measures to criminalize assistance to non-State actors seeking to acquire weapons of mass destruction. I urge all States to use this mechanism.

    Another major challenge is finding ways to prevent nuclear technology and materials from being diverted to covert and illegal weapons programmes, while ensuring that States parties retain the legitimate right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

    On this, a number of proposals have been put forward, including by the Director-General of IAEA and by the High-Level Panel. Central among them is that we raise the bar for inspection standards by establishing the “additional protocol” as the norm for verifying compliance with the NPT. I trust you will give this and other proposals serious consideration.

    You have also made an opportune decision to take up the topic of nuclear fuel cycle and fissile material control. I look forward to hearing your concrete recommendations.

    On small arms, there has been a surge of initiatives since the Programme of Action was adopted by the General Assembly in 2001. These initiatives, aimed at curbing the proliferation of such weapons, have come from many sectors -- governments, regional and subregional organizations, and civil society.

    It is crucial that they lead to real progress on the ground. I am heartened that the regional and subregional organizations are playing such an active role in translating the Programme of Action into tangible regional, national and local measures.

    That momentum must be sustained. We must work to conclude multilateral instruments on key issues such as marking, tracing, brokering and transfer of small arms as soon as possible.

    We have an important opportunity to do that next year, with the first UN Conference to review progress on the implementation of the Programme of Action.

    And of course, we must redouble our efforts to educate and engage the public in the process of controlling illicit small arms, by reaching out to all sectors of society.

    On all these issues, I look forward to your analysis, your advice and, most of all, your practical recommendations on how to improve our collective efforts.

    I wish you every success in the year ahead, and I will do all I can to support your work.

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