‘Greatest challenges ever’ to global peace, UN disarmament board hears

The United Nations

The war in Ukraine is one of “the greatest challenges ever to the international order and the global peace and security architecture”, UN disarmament chief Izumi Nakamitsu said on Tuesday, addressing the Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters on behalf of Secretary-General António Guterres.

The UN chief outlined to the 78th session how the world has undergone “enormous changes” since its last meeting, highlighting the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Because of its nature, intensity, and consequences… [it] has led to senseless loss of life, massive devastation of urban centres, and the destruction of civilian infrastructure,” he said.

Bleak picture

The Ukraine war also serves as “a stark reminder” of the devastating impact of armed conflict, especially on civilians “who pay the highest prices”, the UN chief reminded.

Noting that the disarmament and arms control regime are under a serious strain, he warned that “alarming rhetoric and false narratives are spreading, around the role and uses of nuclear weapons”.

Moreover, the risk of conflict in new domains is “no longer an abstract threat”.

“Cyber-related escalation is increasing and strategic competition, including in outer space, is growing. The picture is bleak.”

Disarmament vision

At times like this, the Advisory Board assumes even greater importance – to find common ground, foster dialogue and build confidence, the statement continued.

“For some time now, I have been calling for a new vision for disarmament, based on a security paradigm that keeps pace with geostrategic realities,” the Secretary-General said.

Turning to his Agenda for Disarmament, he reminded that it was founded on the principles of saving humanity and saving lives, for future generations.

International cooperation

The agenda also includes “rethinking military spending,” which continues to soar globally.

Mr. Guterres pointed out that transparency and confidence-building measures are underutilized, major arms control instruments abandoned, and States seek security in weapons rather than dialogue.

“I believe there is a direct connection between these trends and the dire international situation we find ourselves in today,” the statement continued, advocating for more effective international security arrangements.

The UN believes that along with peacebuilding, conflict prevention and resolution, disarmament and arms control must form an integral part of any arrangements.

And because it is “an essential tool for prevention, sustaining peace and promoting sustainable development,” the UN chief asked the Board to consider what more the UN can do to reimagine security – beyond States and militaries – considering the security of communities, societies and individuals.

Crucial work

Mr. Guterres asked the Board three questions, beginning with what opportunities it sees to reinforce transparency, confidence-building, and practical dialogue, as alternatives to stockpiling weapons.

Second, how can effective and durable security architecture based on cooperation, be built? And finally, he asked how the UN could facilitate new and transformative thinking on military spending.

She upheld that since its inception, the Board has guided Secretaries-General on matters concerning all human beings.

“Your work is crucial to confronting the urgent peace and security challenges of our time,” he said.

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