Palais des Nations
United Nations, Geneva
April 29, 2003
At a special session hosted by the Middle Powers Initiative (MPI) and the Global Security Institute (GSI), Mr. Jayantha Dhanapala, UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, delivered a riveting speech about the past, present, and future of the NPT. Mr. Dhanapala, who is retiring from his current position this summer, spoke to the assembled delegates and NGO representatives of the 2nd NPT PrepCom in Geneva.
The Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) alone offers no "silver bullet," but reports of the treaty's demise are "greatly exaggerated," Mr. Dhanapala stressed at the event, which was chaired by Mr. Jonathan Granoff, President of GSI.
Whether the ultimate goal of the NPT - a nuclear-weapon-free world - is ever achieved will ultimately depend on the political will of all States parties, Dhanapala observed. "Treaties can say many significant things, but if there is no political will to implement them ... they risk becoming mere ornamental offerings to dead or dying concepts."
Picture: USG Dhanapala, Amb. Molnar, Jonathan Granoff, Senator Roche
One of the main challenges to the NPT's survival, the Under-Secretary-General pointed out, is the slow implementation of Article VI. 30,000 nuclear weapons still remain in hands of the nuclear-weapon states. According to Dhanapala's calculations, nuclear disarmament over the past 30 years has thus been proceeding at only 42 weapons a year. "Can the world afford to wait literally hundreds of years to fulfill the promise of Article VI," Dhanapala asked his audience.
Looking into the future, Mr. Dhanapala underscored that the persisting "nuclear apartheid," which continues to prevent the world from achieving more fruitful levels of multilateral cooperation and higher degrees of security, can only be eliminated through the full implementation of the 1995 Principles and Objectives and the disarmament commitments made at the 2000 NPT Review Conference, most notably the 13 Practical Steps.
In his conclusion, the Under-Secretary-General thanked NGOs like MPI or GSI for the active role they have played in promoting nuclear disarmanent during the time of his service at the UN. "NGOs have been the wind under my wings, while others might have wished to have clipped my wings. NGOs will be the true custodians of whatever may have been accomplished over the past five years."
- April 29, 2003 Keynote Address by Mr. Jayantha Dhanapala, UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs "The NPT -- Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow" (PDF).