UN chief deplores ‘paralysis and deadlock’ at global disarmament body

By Thomson Reuters Feb 26, 2024 | 9:13 AM

GENEVA (Reuters) – U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres told the world’s top disarmament negotiating body on Monday it needed to make urgent reforms, accusing it of “paralysis” and failing to compel countries to cut weapons stockpiles.

Addressing the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, Guterres said its failure to fulfil its mandate had created an atmosphere of cynicism over the value of trying to reach multilateral disarmament deals.

There was no immediate reaction from the Conference which, according to its website, focuses on negotiating deals to end the nuclear arms race and stop countries building up weapons in space, on top of pursuing general disarmament.

“Something looks wrong if a disarmament conference leads to no meaningful disarmament, year after year,” Guterres said.

“The paralysis and deadlock that have come to define it is something that is not acceptable. This Conference must be reformed urgently,” he added.

He did not mention specific negotiating efforts or give further details on what kind of reforms were needed.

The Conference was established in 1979 and is overseen by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA). It has 65 member states, including the United States, China and Russia.

It has negotiated several multilateral arms control agreements, including the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) that came into force in 1997 to prohibit the use and stockpiling of chemical weapons.

“From the start, this Conference and its predecessors were supposed to be the antidote to the poison of division and diplomatic paralysis that blocked meaningful disarmament,” Guterres said.

“For some time now, this Conference has not been able to function as intended. In fact, this Conference is failing in relation to its very objectives.”

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Andrew Heavens)