The elimination of nuclear and all other weapons of mass destruction remains a central but elusive objective of the United Nations. Despite commitments from Member States, there has been limited progress on this long-standing goal. For nuclear weapons, this is largely due to growing tensions between nuclear-armed States and the rigidity of the disarmament machinery.
In the meantime, the Southern hemisphere of the planet has already become almost entirely one nuclear-weapon-free zone by virtue of regional treaties: the Treaty of Rarotonga, covering the South Pacific, the Treaty of Pelindaba, covering Africa, the Treaty of Bangkok covering Southeast Asia, the Treaty of Tlatelolco, covering Latin America and the Caribbean and the Antarctic Treaty. Recently we have witnessed the entry into force of the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia, the first such instrument situated entirely north of the Equator.
The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was a defining moment for global efforts to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit arms trade: the Agenda included a specific target to significantly reduce illicit arms flows by 2030.
The General Assembly and other bodies of the United Nations, supported by the Office for Disarmament Affairs, work to advance international peace and security through the pursuit of the elimination of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction and the regulation of conventional arms.
The Office promotes:
- Nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation
- Strengthening of the disarmament regimes in respect to other weapons of mass destruction, and chemical and biological weapons
- Disarmament efforts in the area of conventional weapons, especially landmines and small arms, which are the weapons of choice in contemporary conflicts.