United Nations Disarmament Yearbook

2412-1193 (online)
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This publication has been a rich source of historical knowledge on developments, trends and achievements of multilateral disarmament for more than 30 years. In early spring of each year, Part I of the Yearbook is published containing an annual compilation of texts and statistics on disarmament-related resolutions and decisions of the General Assembly. In early Autumn, Part II is published presenting the main topics of multilateral consideration during the year, along with a convenient issues-oriented timeline.
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United Nations Disarmament Yearbook 1979

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31 Dec 1979
9789210579834 (PDF)

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The volume 4 compiles the disarmament resolutions and decisions of the General Assembly, the voting patterns in the General Assembly and the First Committee report and dates of their adoption.
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  • Introduction
    This volume is the fourth of the yearbooks on disarmament prepared by the United Nations Secretariat in accordance with the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Review of the Role of the United Nations in the Field of Disarmament which were endorsed by the General Assembly in resolution 31/90 of 14 December 1976. Since that time, the Assembly has on a number of occasions called for wider dissemination of information about the arms race and the efforts to halt and reverse it in order to mobilize world public opinion in support of the objectives of disarmament.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Comprehensive approaches to disarmament

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    • General and complete disarmament
      The United Nations realized, almost from its inception, that the subject of disarmament was both one of its major concerns and a question requiring solution on a comprehensive basis. The importance of the subject is recognized implicitly in Article 26 of the Charter of the United Nations, which refers to a system for the regulation of armaments and states that the establishment of international peace and security should be promoted with the least diversion for armaments of the world’s human and economic resources. From the outset, the question of disarmament proved to be an immensely intractable one. So far, all attempts to deal with disarmament, in various forums and involving numerous approaches, both within and outside the United Nations, have met with little success.
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  • Follow-Up of the special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament
    The question of follow-up was one of the central issues discussed at the special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament. Adequate continuation of the work of the session was recognized as an essential prerequisite for successful implementation of the provisions of the Final Document of the special session concerning the cessation and reversal of the arms race.
  • Development of a comprehensive programme of disarmament
    During the 1960s, the concept of general and complete disarmament provided the major United Nations framework to encompass plans and measures aimed towards ending the arms race and achieving disarmament. Within that framework, primary emphasis was given to the need for effective measures to halt the nuclear arms race and achieve nuclear disarmament. The 1961 joint statement of agreed principles for future disarmament negotiations and the draft treaties of the Soviet Union and the United States on general and complete disarmament submitted in 1962 to the Eighteen-Nation Committee on Disarmament have remained a basis of discussion on the subject and have been considered as the forerunner of later efforts to develop a comprehensive programme of disarmament.
  • Adoption of a declaration on international cooperation for disarmament
    Article I of the Charter of the United Nations states that one of the purposes of the Organization is “To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems.” Over the years, in all forums of the United Nations, repeated reference has been made to the vital importance of creating a climate of international co-operation in which the many urgent problems facing the international community, including important questions in the field of arms limitation and disarmament, could be discussed and peacefully solved.
  • World disarmament conference
    The idea of convening a world disarmament conference was initiated at the First Conference of Heads of State or Government of Non-Aligned Countries, held at Belgrade in 1961. That Conference, in its Declaration, recommended, inter alia, that the General Assembly take a decision either to convene a special session of the Assembly devoted to disarmament or a world disarmament conference under the auspices of the United Nations. The non-aligned States considered that a world disarmament conference, convened at an appropriate time, with the participation of all States, would be useful. They reiterated that view at their subsequent summit conferences, including the most recent one, held at Havana, Cuba, in 1979. In 1965, on the basis of an initiative of a group of non-aligned countries, the General Assembly adopted resolution 2030 (XX) by which it endorsed the idea of convening a world disarmament conference. The proposal was not taken up further in the General Assembly until 1971 when the Soviet Union revived the idea and, on the basis of its proposal, the Assembly adopted resolution 2833 (XXVI), in which it expressed the conviction that careful consideration should be given to the convening, following adequate preparation, of a world disarmament conference open to all States. The item has appeared on the agenda each year since that time.
  • Consideration of the declaration of the 1980s as a disarmament decade
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Nuclear disarmament

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    • Nuclear arms limitation and disarmament
      The emergence of nuclear weapons in 1945 represented an unprecedented threat to the security of States and to the very survival of mankind. Since that time, there have been continuing efforts on the part of the international community to seek ways and means for the prevention, curbing and cessation of the nuclear arms race and the reduction and subsequent elimination of nuclear weapons.
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  • Strategic arms limitation talks
    The Soviet Union and the United States have been engaged in bilateral Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) since late 1969. The first phase of the negotiations (SALT I) ended with the signing in Moscow on 26 May 1972 of two agreements: the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty), subsequently amended by a Protocol of 3 July 1974, and the Interim Agreement on Certain Measures with Respect to the Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, with a Protocol attached. Both agreements entered into force on 3 October 1972.
  • Cessation of Nuclear-Weapon tests
    Since the mid-1950s the cessation of nuclear-weapon tests has been looked upon and discussed as a highly important measure of disarmament. The most significant achievement which has resulted so far from those discussions is the Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water, which was signed on 5 August 1 963 by the USSR, the United Kingdom and the United States and entered into force on 10 October of the same year. Since that time the overwhelming majority of nuclear tests have been carried out only in the underground environment and some 110 States have become parties to the Treaty, generally known as the partial test-ban Treaty. Two nuclear-weapon States, China and France, are not parties, but, in 1974, France stated that it would continue only with underground testing, and since that time it has refrained from exploding nuclear weapons in the prohibited environments.
  • Treaty on the non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
    The idea of the conclusion of an international agreement on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons emerged in discussions at the United Nations and elsewhere among other proposals addressing themselves to the consideration of measures needed to ward off the danger of nuclear-weapon proliferation and increased international co-operation in the peaceful uses of atomic energy. As a result of initiatives taken in the General Assembly, negotiations started on a non-proliferation treaty in the early 1960s. After years of arduous debate, both in the Eighteen-Nation Committee on Disarmament (ENDC) and the General Assembly, agreement was reached and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was opened for signature in 1968 (resolution 2373 (XXII), annex).
  • Strengthening of the security of Non-Nuclear Weapon states
    The question of strengthening of the security of non-nuclear-weapon States has been discussed at the United Nations and other international forums mostly in the context of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons of 1968 (resolution 2373 (XXII), annex)
  • Nuclear-Weapon-Free zones
    The concept of nuclear-weapon-free zones, which has been developed in the course of disarmament negotiations at the United Nations and other international forums, continues to be regarded as one of the most practical means of preventing the horizontal proliferation of nuclear weapons and ensuring the complete absence of such weapons from the designated areas. Moreover, the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones is considered to be an effective means of providing the non-nuclear-weapon States with negative security guarantees against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, an important step which might contribute to the achievement of general and complete disarmament under effective international control, particularly nuclear disarmament.
  • International co-operation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and the question of the non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
    In recent years, the development of nuclear energy peaceful purposes has become the subject of intense debate within and outside the United Nations. A variety of views are being advanced reflecting the different needs and interests of different countries in the light of such considerations as resource endowment, energy requirements and options, level of scientific, technological and economic development and environmental factors. Essentially, however, two trends of thought dominate the debate, one focusing on the link between the dissemination of nuclear technology, equipment and materials for peaceful purposes and the spread of nuclear weapons, and the other on the benefits that may be derived from the peaceful applications of nuclear technology. These trends clash in two separate but related areas. One disagreement concerns the transfer of nuclear technology, equipment and materials for peaceful purposes. Here changes in nuclear export policies in the direction of more stringent export controls and a stricter safeguards régime have sparked controversy between supplier and recipient countries. The other disagreement, involving mainly the United States on one side and a number of developed countries on the other, originates in differing evaluations of the prospective dangers and expected benefits of the “plutonium economy” i.e., the use of plutonium in the nuclear fuel cycle.
  • IAEA safeguards and related activities
    This chapter has been provided by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It deals primarily with safeguards and other activities of the Agency during 1979 and describes the situation existing as of the end of the year. It should be noted, however, that IAEA safeguards against the diversion of nuclear materials and other equipment or information for military and other prohibited activities have been evolving almost since the establishment of the Agency in 1956. Accordingly, the chapter also describes briefly the authority and methodology imvolved in the Agency’s functions.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Prohibition or restriction of use of other weapons

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    • Chemical and bacteriological (biological) weapons
      All weapons of war are destructive of human life, but chemical and bacteriological (biological) weapons stand in a class of their own as armaments designed solely to affect living matter. The idea of bacteriological (biological) weapons being used deliberately to spread disease generates a sense of horror. The fact that certain chemical and bacteriological (biological) agents are potentially unconfined in their effects, both in space and time, and that their large scale use could conceivably have deleterious and irreversible effects on the balance of nature adds to the sense of insecurity and tension which the existence of those classes of weapons engenders. The complete prohibition and elimination of the poisonous and toxic weapons of warfare has been an important goal of the international community for many years.
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  • New weapons of mass destruction
    As early as 1948 the possibility that new types of weapons of mass destruction might be invented was foreseen in the first resolution of the Commission for Conventional Armaments. By that resolution, the Commission stated that weapons of mass destruction should be defined to include atomic explosive weapons, radioactive material weapons, lethal chemical and biological weapons, and any weapons developed in the future with characteristics comparable in destructive effect to those of the atomic bomb or other weapons mentioned above.
  • Radiological weapons
    Radiological weapons are those which make use of the dispersal of radioactive substances in the target area to cause injury to personnel independently of nuclear explosions.
  • United Nations conference on prohibitions or restrictions of use of certain conventional weapons which may be deemed to be excessively injurious or to have indiscriminate effects
    The question of prohibiting or restricting the use of certain conventional weapons that may be deemed to be excessively injurious or to have indiscriminate effects has been considered by the international community in various forms over the years, particularly under the aegis of the United Nations, the Diplomatic Conference on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law Applicable in Armed Conflicts and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Other approaches to disarmament and arms limitation

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    • Limitation of the build-up and transfer of conventional arms on a world-wide and regional basis
      As situations of armed conflict and other crises with massive potential for degenerating into armed conflict continued and in some respects escalated around the world in 1979, the instruments of war most requiring increased attention and regulation, because of their continuing use and negative effects on global socio-economic development efforts, were conventional weapons. While nuclear weapons, by their sheer destructive potential, remain the central focus of disarmament efforts, it is noteworthy that conventional armaments have been used in every armed conflict in the postwar era up to now, while nuclear weapons have not. Furthermore, the conventional arms race has continued to consume a significantly larger proportion of world military expenditures than the nuclear arms race. Statistically, annual expenditures on conventional forces consume about 80 per cent of the estimated 450 billion dollars currently spent on armaments and armed forces globally.
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  • Declaration of the Indian Ocean as a zone of peace
    The question of establishing a zone of peace in the Indian Ocean, although not a new idea, was placed on the agenda of the General Assembly for the first time in 1971, under an item entitled “Declaration of the Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace”, at the request of Sri Lanka and, later, the United Republic of Tanzania. The General Assembly that year adopted resolution 2832 (XXVI) in which it solemnly declared that the Indian Ocean, within limits to be determined, together with the air space above and the ocean floor subjacent thereto, was designated for all time as a zone of peace. In conformity with the Declaration, the Assembly called upon the great Powers to enter into consultations with the littoral States of the Indian Ocean with a view to halting the further expansion of their military presence in the Indian Ocean and eliminating from the area all bases, military installations and logistical supply facilities, nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction and any manifestation of great-Power military presence conceived in the context of great-Power rivalry. It also called upon the littoral and hinterland States of the Indian Ocean, the permanent members of the Security Council and other major maritime users of the Indian Ocean, with the objective of establishing a system of universal collective security through regional and other co-operation, to enter into consultations with a view to the implementation of the Declaration and taking of necessary action to ensure that: (a) warships and military aircraft might not use the Indian Ocean for any threat or use of force against the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of any littoral and hinterland State of the Indian Ocean in contravention of the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations; (b) subject to the foregoing and to the norms and principles of international law, the right to free and unimpeded use of the zone by the vessels of all nations was unaffected; and (c) appropriate arrangements were made to give effect to any international agreement that might ultimately be reached for the maintenance of the Indian Ocean as a zone of peace.
  • Reduction of military budgets
    The question of the limitation of military expenditures has for a long time been a preoccupation of the United Nations. As early as 1950 the General Assembly adopted resolution 380 (V) by which it determined that for the realization of lasting peace and security it was indispensable that every State agree to reduce to a minimum the diversion for armaments of its human and economic resources and to strive towards the development of such resources for the general welfare. The work of the General Assembly in this area has been reflected in a number of subsequent resolutions as well as in the conclusions and recommendations of studies dealing with the need to reduce military expenditures through disarmament and with the link between disarmament and development.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Studies, information and training

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    • The advisory board on disarmament studies and studies in progress
      It was stated recently that one of the important, although unspectacular, means used by the United Nations to further the process of disarmament and arms limitation consists of the studies it carries out on a range of aspects of that extremely complicated topic. These studies have two basic purposes: first, they provide information of a general nature to facilitate better understanding of the problems of the arms race and disarmament; and, second, they support the negotiating process through the analysis of specific matters related to negotiations in process. Such studies have been made under United Nations auspices since the early 1960s, most of them with the assistance of consultant or governmental experts appointed by the Secretary-General or experts appointed directly by Governments. This procedure has permitted the Organization to draw on as wide as possible a range of expertise and political outlook. The United Nations Secretariat has also made relevant analyses at the request of various bodies.
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  • Disarmament and development
    In 1977, the Preparatory Committee for the Special Session of the General Assembly Devoted to Disarmament included in its recommendations to the General Assembly that it initiate, on the basis of a proposal submitted by Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, a study on the relationship between disarmament and development. That recommendation was taken up in the course of the disarmament debate at the thirty-second session of the General Assembly. A draft resolution concerning such a study was introduced by Norway and adopted by consensus in the First Committee and by the General Assembly as resolution 32/88 A.
  • Mobilization of public opinion and the observance of disarmament week
    A major function of the United Nations is to increase the flow of information on the arms race and disarmament to governments, nongovernmental organizations and news media and, through them as well as directly, to the general public. The aim is to facilitate a better understanding of the problems of the arms race and disarmament, stimulate the interest of organizations and individuals and generate wider public support of disarmament efforts.
  • United Nations programme of fellowships on disarmament
    The idea of establishing a United Nations programme of fellowships on disarmament was proposed initially by Nigeria at the 1978 special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament. Nigeria’s suggestion led, after its consideration, to the inclusion in the Final Document of the Tenth Special Session of the General Assembly of paragraph 108 by which the Assembly decided to establish a programme of fellowships on disarmament. The stated aim of the programme was to promote expertise in disarmament in more Member States, particularly in the developing countries, and in that regard the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to prepare guidelines for the programme and to determine the financial requirement of awarding 20 fellowships a year. The guidelines were outlined in a report of the Secretary-General to the Assembly at its thirty-third session. Subsequently, by resolution 33/71 E of 14 December 1978, the Assembly approved the guidelines prepared by the Secretary-General, and requested him to make adequate arrangements to commence the programme of fellowships on disarmament during the first half of 1979.
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