Maintenance of international peace and security: Promote common security through dialogue and cooperation - Security Council, 9112th Meeting

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22-Aug-2022 02:11:32
‘Nuclear sabre-rattling must stop’ Secretary-General tells Security Council, calling on States to ease tensions, end atomic weapons race.

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The United Nations Secretary-General today urged Security Council members to update the diplomatic toolkit, used for decades to prevent catastrophic war, to meet the deteriorating global peace and security environment and move towards a world free of nuclear weapons. As António Guterres told Council members that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was ready to send a mission from Kyiv to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, Gustavo Zlauvinen, President of the Tenth Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, warned members that the norm against the use of such arms, one of the most important achievements of the post-Second World War era, is increasingly threatened.

Speaking as the States parties to the Treaty are in month-long discussions on ways to strengthen that essential instrument of common security, Mr. Zlauvinen said the Treaty has proven itself resilient and adaptable over its 52-year history. Yet, the geopolitical turmoil rocking the world means the Treaty faces a raft of diverse challenges it has not faced before. He stressed that the only way to completely eliminate the risk of a nuclear weapon being used is to completely eliminate them.

States are now grappling with how to reinforce the seven-decade-old history of non-use of nuclear weapons and take urgently needed steps towards a world free of such arms, said Mr. Zlauvinen. Urgent action, under the disarmament pillar, is needed to reverse dangerous trends, increase confidence and ensure that mistakes or miscalculations do not lead to escalation and catastrophe. The narrative has been revived that nuclear weapons provide the ultimate security guarantee — an extremely damaging narrative for non-proliferation.

The Secretary-General told Council members the Review Conference must demonstrate that progress is possible. Countries with nuclear weapons must commit to the “no first use” of those arms and assure States that do not have such weapons that they will not use — or threaten to use — nuclear weapons against them. Transparency is necessary and “nuclear sabre-rattling must stop,” Mr. Guterres said. “We need all States to recommit to a world free of nuclear weapons and spare no effort to come to the negotiating table to ease tensions and end the nuclear arms race, once and for all.”

The Council and the United Nations are humanity’s best hope to build a better, more peaceful future. “As we develop our New Agenda for Peace, let’s show that we’ve learned from the lessons of the past,” he said. “Let’s recommit to the eternal tools of peace — dialogue, diplomacy and mutual trust.”

Several Council members said the deteriorating global peace and security environment amplifies the need for Council reform. If not, the Council, and even the Organization, risk irrelevance.

The representative of India said that as the most universal and representative international organization, the United Nations has been credited with keeping the peace over the last 77 years. Yet, the international community must ask whether the United Nations has lived up to its expectations and whether the Council, the foremost organ tasked with the responsibility of maintaining international peace and security, can remain relevant. The Council must be more representative of developing countries so as to reflect current geopolitical realities. Without a truly representative Council, the United Nations may be superseded by other plurilateral and multilateral groupings which are more representative, more transparent and more democratic and, therefore, more effective.

The representative of Kenya said the international community is facing an increasingly dangerous confrontation between the great Powers and he regretted the increasing irrelevance of multilateralism. Dialogue must be used to halt the war in Ukraine. “We are at a fork in the road. Will the world’s Powers choose to embrace the guiding vision of the UN? Or will they turn it into one more arena of their conflict and sap its will and means to protect international peace and security?” he asked. African and the rest of the world cannot wait passively. He supported stronger contributions to the common security, by all regions and through multilateral instruments, to prevent destructive cold and hot wars. These efforts could include renewed ambition to reform the United Nations, particularly the Council.

Brazil’s delegate noted the first official briefing by the president of an ongoing Review Conference. He viewed it as a positive sign that the Council is attentive to the main multilateral discussions taking place beyond its walls. The international community must overcome, once and for all, the false narrative that nuclear weapons make the world a safer place. Their mere existence invites further proliferation and undermines global stability and compromises international security, putting the whole world at existential risk. There is a pressing need to move forward with discussions on Council reform.

Ireland’s delegate said during the cold war era, the world too frequently stood on the brink of nuclear catastrophe, but it is now faced with an elevated nuclear risk. “As we heard from our briefers, by adopting the Treaty of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the international community took a decisive step back from that abyss,” she stated, noting that the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation architecture reminds the international community that even in the most dangerous of times, progress is achievable. She cited the collective responsibility to bring urgency and action to nuclear disarmament, address proliferation challenges, and honour and implement existing commitments.

Also speaking today were representatives of the United Arab Emirates, Gabon, France, United States, United Kingdom, Norway, Ghana, Russian Federation, Albania, Mexico and China.

The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 12:26 p.m.

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