Nuke Talks at the UN: A Global Call for Nuclear Disarmament

Armed with newly gained knowledge and awareness of disarmament approaches from our special nine week trek into the realm of arms control and disarmament, the 2011 United Nations (UN) Disarmament Fellows returned to the 66th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) for their final workshop, the First Committee. The concepts laid out during the first segment of the study program at the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva are now the issues being debated here in New York. The First Committee focuses on disarmament and international security, and deals with challenging agenda questions that include: preserving peace and international security; addressing problems regarding arms control, nuclear disarmament, and stemming the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD); and supporting ongoing efforts to preserve outer space for peaceful purposes.

The activities of the First Committee are designed to provide a forum where all member states can voice their opinions on important issues related to arms control, disarmament, non-proliferation and preventing the spread of WMD. Many seek to use the UN forum to forge a consensual approach to issues, while others use it simply to stake out national positions. Early in this fellowship, I learned about the persistent stagnation of multilateral disarmament efforts within the CD. The First Committee is very cognizant of the bitter realities of the CD and now finds itself in a difficult spot to reach for compromise solutions to the most critical problems of disarmament and non-proliferation.

During the opening week of the First Committee delegations expressed frustration over the lack of progress in the disarmament "machinery". However, in the same breath, almost all of the delegates recognized and welcomed this year's positive developments in the nuclear field, notably with the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) between the two nations who possess the largest number of nuclear weapons, the United States and Russia. This treaty takes a significant step towards nuclear disarmament and, in my view, is an encouraging sign of their commitment to a world without nuclear weapons.

Reaching an environment conducive to achieving the peace and security of a world free of nuclear weapons is possible, but will be a long-term, step-by-step process that requires hard work from all states, nuclear and non-nuclear. Recent and ongoing nuclear efforts by the permanent five (P-5) countries -- China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States -- aimed at fulfilling their commitments within the framework of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) have been viewed favorably, as noted by delegations speaking during the nuclear-themed debates last week.

Many of the diplomats I spoke to have devoted tremendous efforts over the years, engaging and using their diplomatic skills to overcome gridlock in the CD. So far, I've heard countless stories describing the struggle to achieve a consensus that will enable the CD to begin multilateral disarmament negotiation. Now I have witnessed in the First Committee many of the same divisions on the issues, especially those dealing with nuclear disarmament. Still, the potential for these institutions to advance multilateral disarmament goals remains very real and at the forefront of the aspirations of most delegations. I believe that every government that is committed to the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons and securing ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) should also support a ban on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons purposes. They should support concrete actions to begin the long overdue negotiations in this field.

Over the course of the coming weeks, the committee plans to discuss and adopt approximately 40 to 60 draft resolutions and decisions of UNGA. In light of a number of encouraging developments, I hope that the committee seizes the opportunity and current momentum for creating a world without nuclear weapons by solidifying a viable plan of action, enabling the CD to commence multilateral negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty.

As a Disarmament Fellow, I have cultivated important partnerships with other fellows and diplomats, and believe I am ready for some practical experience negotiating as a U.S. government official. I certainly look forward to making my own contributions to the ever-evolving process of multilateral disarmament and arms control.

October 24 marks United Nations Day. On United Nations Day, the United States joins 192 fellow member states in celebrating the founding ideals of the UN Charter.



New Mexico, USA
October 26, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Andreea Paulopol,

Down in Texas the other day, folks dismantled the last B-53 gravity bomb in the US arsenal.

At one point we had 400 of these nukes in active service, each one over 600 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

One of these days a motivated researcher will compile the total cost of building weapons that cannot be used and remain civilized, adding the cost of storage and dismantlement and give humanity a fiscal report on how many billions have been wasted on hypothetical global nuclear conflict in building the means to exterminate the species, rather than invest in its social development globally over the years to create a sustainable living environment.

I would suggest someone get on this soon in order to convince nations like Pakistan who build nukes while being given humanitarian and military assistance for their natural disasters and fight against extremism; that that's akin to behaving like a fellow who's got himself all twisted up like a pretzle, hopping into the doctor's office on one foot complaining, "It hurts doc, what can I do about this? I'm hemoraging big bucks and really uncomfortable in this position. I can barely stand on one foot."

The doc, always the diplomats says, "Well then, stop doing that!"

There is no health insurance coverage for political stupidity, but there is a cure.

And some won't listen to reason...,


District Of Columbia, USA
November 18, 2011

JP in Washington, D.C. writes:

@ Andrea P.,

I'm glad to hear the type of work that you are striving to accomplish. Working in a diplomatic setting must be extremely challenging as you deal with the diverse political, economic, and military interrelated complexities that the average citizens of many countries don't get to appreciate enough. It is good to see the big 5 nations working on these issues, and I hope that once these concerns are dealt with that additional measures can be put in place (other than solely bans) to ensure rogue nations do not bypass these mutually shared objectives of the big 5.

Best of luck to you and your fellow devoted colleagues throughout all these continued struggles while benefitting the global good!


2011 UN Disarmament Fellows Pose with UN Secretary General Ki-moon
Posted by Andreea Paulopol
October 24, 2011


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