Table of Contents

  • Nuclear disarmament issues have been discussed within and outside the United Nations since the very beginning of the nuclear age. As a result, a number of agreements have been signed by which the existing nuclear arsenals have been reduced, their deployment excluded from certain environments or regions, or their proliferation prevented. Some legal aspects of the threat or use of nuclear weapons have recently been addressed.
  • At the 1995 MPT Review and Extension Conference, the States parties to the Treaty adopted a package of decisions by which the Treaty was extended indefinitely, a new strengthened review process of the implementation of the Treaty’s provisions was to begin in 1997 and, through the principles and objectives on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, benchmarks to measure the performance of all treaty parties, nuclear-weapon States and non-nuclear weapon States, were established. The three decisions, together with the resolution on the Middle East, had a far-reaching impact beyond the indefinite extension of the Treaty. The States parties ensured not only that the Treaty would be maintained as the core of the global nuclear-nonproliferation regime, but also that its indefinite extension would both reinforce and render permanent the international legal norm against the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
  • Questions of the regulation and reduction of conventional arms and armed forces have been on the disarmament agenda of the United Nations since the Organization was created, with varying degrees of emphasis. In the 1950s, the General Assembly dealt with the subject in the context of ways and means to achieve the regulation, limitation and balanced reduction of all armed forces and all armaments and to achieve general and complete disarmament. Later, the emphasis tended to be on nuclear rather than on conventional arms. However, the need to address conventional disarmament in a systematic way was increasingly recognized throughout the 1980s, and developments in the 1990s have given impetus to this trend.
  • Over the past five or six years, determination has been growing to put an end to the suffering and casualties caused by anti-personnel mines (APMs). At first the impetus came primarily from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Later, governments began seriously to address the deepening humanitarian crisis. In 1993, France requested the Secretary-Genial, as depositary to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), to convene a conference to review the treaty, with priority to be given to anti-personnel mines. That same year. Member States that ate members of the European Community requested that an item on mine clearance be inscribed on the agenda of the General Assembly and, on the initiative of the United States, the Assembly adopted a resolution calling upon States to agree to a moratorium on the export of anti-personnel landmines. Subsequently, the United Nations established a voluntary trust fund to finance information and training programmes relating to mine clearance and to facilitate the launching of mine-clearance operations.
  • States promote their security interests through global, regional and bilateral approaches comprising a variety of disarmament, arms reduction and confidence-building measures.
  • In 1997, There were a Number of Issues that had, in most instances, been before the international community for some time, but that, for a variety of reasons, were not directly addressed to any great extent in the different disarmament forums. They were, however, the subject of resolutions in the General Assembly. They are dealt with in this chapter under the title “Other issues”, because they do not lend themselves to placement in any of the topical chapters of this volume, nor do they share a common theme among themselves. This chapter thus covers: outer space issues; the relationship between disarmament and development; the role of science and technology; and arms regulation and disarmament agreements; compliance, verification, and observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementation of treaties.
  • Under the Charter, the General Assembly and the Security Council are the main organs dealing with matters of disarmament and the regulation of armaments. The existing disarmament machinery, as set out in the Final Document of the General Assembly at its first special session devoted to disarmament, in 1978, has remained essentially the same. It consists of the General Assembly and its two subsidiary bodies, namely, the First Committee and the Disarmament Commission, and the Conference on Disarmament—the “single multilateral negotiating forum” on disarmament of the international community. In addition, questions of disarmament are dealt with in other international frameworks established on the basis of multilateral, regional and bilateral agreements.