Conference on Disarmament breaks 12-year deadlock

  • Georgina te Heuheu
Disarmament and Arms Control

The Conference on Disarmament's decision to adopt a programme of work is a significant step forward for global disarmament efforts, Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control Georgina te Heuheu said today.

‘After more than a decade of deadlock, this decision paves the way for work to start on negotiating a new treaty banning the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons,' Mrs te Heuheu said. 

The Conference on Disarmament, which meets in Geneva and is the sole UN negotiating body on disarmament, has been responsible for a number of important international agreements, including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban treaties. Since 1996, however, it has been unable to agree on a programme of work.

‘The agreement comes on the back of numerous efforts to get the Conference down to real work, Mrs te Heuheu said. ‘Consistent with New Zealand's strong position on disarmament and arms control, we have actively supported these various initiatives over the years.'

A fissile materials treaty is seen by many as a central element on the path toward nuclear disarmament. The programme of work adopted at the weekend also mandates discussion on practical steps toward eliminating nuclear weapons, the prevention of an arms race in outer space, and legal restrictions preventing the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states.

‘This decision is indicative of a new momentum in international nuclear disarmament efforts, in part brought about by US leadership on this issue.

‘New Zealand has been pressing for a fissile materials treaty for many years. We look forward to working with others to progress this important initiative,' Mrs te Heuheu said.