2 May 2000

Press Release



NEW YORK, 2 May (Department for Disarmament Affairs) -- The message of the Secretary-General in his Report to the Millennium Assembly was echoed several times during a panel discussion on a new conceptual approach to disarmament and arms control, organized jointly by the Department for Disarmament Affairs and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on Monday, 1 May, at United Nations Headquarters.

Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, Jayantha Dhanapala, reiterated the Secretary-General’s appeal to the global community to seize the sense of the occasion that comes of turning the century “to step back from today’s headlines and take a broader, longer-term view of the state of the world and the challenges it poses for [the United Nations].”

Dr. Adam Daniel Rotfeld, Director of SIPRI, agreed with the Secretary- General that, after the end of the cold war, concern over nuclear weapons had seemed to drift from public consciousness. Rolf Ekéus, Ambassador of Sweden to the United States and Chairman-elect of the SIPRI Governing Board, welcomed the Secretary-General’s call for an international conference to identify ways of eliminating nuclear dangers. He went on to challenge the nuclear-weapon States to live up to their commitments under article VI provisions of the Treaty on the Non- Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and to demonstrate that commitment by modifying their security policy and operations in the direction of the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.

Dr. Steven E Miller of Harvard University said a comprehensive effort was needed to negotiate an international legally binding instrument to limit nuclear warheads, involving all nuclear weapons States. Dr. Zdzislaw Lachowski, a researcher from SIPRI, suggested that valuable lessons could be derived from the European experience in arms control, which peaked in the early 1990s (with the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and the Open Skies Treaty) for other parts of the world, providing those lessons are adapted to the individual circumstances of each region. Wayi Omitoogun, a SIPRI researcher, argued that Africa has not practised arms control for a variety of reasons, both historical and political. In order for African countries to evolve into arms control, the 50 years of experience that Europe had gained in arms control will be a useful example for arrangements on the continent. Major weapons systems must also be addressed in Africa, he stressed, in addition to small arms and light weapons and nuclear disarmament.

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Dr. Ian Anthony, also a SIPRI researcher, outlined the findings of the SIPRI-sponsored Nobel Symposium on a Future Arms Control Agenda, which took place in Stockholm in October last year. One of the issues tackled was how disarmament and arms control can become one instrument among many in the search for a comprehensive international security agenda. One of the proposals that came from that Symposium was to plant the seed of an idea for a World Security Forum, similar to the World Economic Forum that takes place in Davos, Switzerland, each year. That Forum would answer the perceived need for a high-level dialogue on a comprehensive approach to security issues outside the framework of governments.

The statements made at the panel discussion will be published in the Disarmament Occasional Papers series.

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