“At a time when global anxieties about nuclear weapons are higher than at any time since the Cold War, measures for disarmament and arms control are more vital than ever,” Deputy High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Thomas Markram told the opening of the 2018 session of UN Disarmament Commission, held in New York on Monday.
“Since September, there have been no fundamental changes in the interrelated trends that are eroding efficacy in arms control and negatively affecting international peace and security,” Markram added, as he delivered a speech on behalf of High Representative Izumi Nakamitsu.
He stressed, however, that there have been some recent signs of progress that point to where the Commission can make a unique and constructive contribution.
Positive developments also include the successful reduction of strategic nuclear forces by Russia and the US to the levels required by their New START Treaty. As for the reported commitment by North Korea to denuclearization following the recent talks held in China, Markram said that “we hope these positive developments will be the start of a longer process of sincere dialogue leading to sustainable peace and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.”
Looking to build on this momentum, the Commission has also included prevention of an arms race in outer space in its agenda for this session.
“One specific collateral measure for disarmament on which this body should certainly be able to make a contribution is the goal of preserving outer space as a realm free of conflict,” Markram said, noting that several recent trends are impacting the security and sustainability of outer space activities.
These include: the massive growth in the number and diversity of actors operating in outer space, including governments and the private sector; the proliferation of hazardous space debris; and increasing dependence on outer space in the civilian, government and military sectors.
“As long as some continue to see outer space as a potential realm for war-fighting, we will face increasing risk of weaponization and conflict,” he said.
However, there continues to be common ground among the major space-faring nations and other space actors on ways to make progress in a number of areas, including the implementation of transparency and confidence-building measures to mitigate misunderstandings and reduce risk, he noted.
The Commission was created in 1978 as a subsidiary organ of the UN General Assembly, composed of all Member States, to consider various issues in the field of disarmament and make recommendations.