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 1987

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31 Dec 1987
9789210579919 (PDF)

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The volume 12 compiles the disarmament resolutions and decisions of the forty-second session of the General Assembly, the voting patterns in the General Assembly and the First Committee report and dates of their adoption. It summarizes developments and trends in 1987 on key issues of multilateral consideration at the international and regional levels.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Comprehensive approaches to disarmament

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    • United Nations disarmament bodies and their activities in 1987
      According to the Charter of the United Nations, one of the purposes of the Organization is “to maintain international peace and security” (Article 1). The Charter empowers the General Assembly to consider the general principles of co-operation in the maintenance of those goals, including the principles governing disarmament and the regulation of armaments, and to make recommendations regarding them to the Members of the Organization or to the Security Council or to both (Article 11). “In order to promote the establishment and maintenance of international peace and security with the least diversion for armaments of the world’s human and economic resources”, the Security Council is charged with the task of formulating plans to be submitted to the Members of the United Nations for the establishment of a system for the regulation of armaments (Article 26).
    • Follow-Up of the special sessions of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament
      In two special sessions of the General Assembly, the first held in 1978 (known as the tenth special session, or the first devoted to disarmament) and the second held in 1982 (the twelfth special session, or the second devoted to disarmament), the international community has made special efforts to reach agreement on a strategy for the future course of disarmament. The two special sessions provided an opportunity to discuss the full range of questions related to the arms race and the possibilities of limiting and reversing it. The Final Document of the Tenth Special Session, usually referred to in this volume as the 1978 Final Document, was adopted by consensus and is generally considered the guide for all disarmament efforts within and outside the United Nations. While the twelfth special session did not reach consensus on a final document, it did end with the unanimous reaffirmation of the validity of the 1978 Final Document.
    • General and complete disarmament
      Building upon the Charter of the United Nations, the General Assembly first explicitly stated in 1959 that the final objective of the United Nations disarmament efforts was general and complete disarmament under effective international control. To reach that goal, the Organization has endeavoured to proceed along two parallel paths, pursuing both the long-term objectives of achieving comprehensive disarmament measures and the short-term aim of agreeing on more limited steps.
    • Comprehensive programme of disarmament
      A Comprehensive Approach to Disarmament has its roots in article 11 of the Charter of the United Nations, which empowers the General Assembly to consider “principles governing disarmament and the regulation of armaments” and to make recommendations on such principles to Member States or the Security Council or both. In 1969, the then Secretary-General, U Thant, in the context of a proposal to designate the 1970s a “disarmament decade”, expressed the view that the General Assembly could establish a specific programme and timetable for dealing with all aspects of arms limitation and disarmament. The Assembly adopted resolution 2602 E (XXIV), requesting the CCD, while continuing intensive negotiations on collateral measures, to work out at the same time a comprehensive programme dealing with all aspects of the problem of the cessation of the arms race and general and complete disarmament under effective international control.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Nuclear disarmament

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    • Nuclear arms limitation and disarmament
      Not long after nuclear weapons were first developed and certainly with the advent of the thermonuclear weapon and the recognition of its destructive power, the international community became aware that it faces the risk of the destruction of civilization. The measures proposed to avert or reduce that risk include the limitation, reduction and elimination of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems; the cut-off of the production of fissionable material for weapons purposes; the restriction or prohibition of the deployment by nuclear-weapon States of nuclear weapons on the territories of other States; and a freeze on the production of additional nuclear weapons. Yet the number and destructive capability of the available nuclear weapons have continuously increased, amounting to what has been called “overkill capacity”. In addition to the 5 nuclear-weapon States, China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States, from 15 to 25 other States are believed to be able to develop a rudimentary nuclear weapon, should they decide to do so.
    • Treaty between the United States of America and the union of soviet socialist Republics on the elimination of their intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles
      Since the 1950s, Europe has been the arena for a most powerful concentration of armed forces and armaments, nuclear as well as conventional, from both East and West. In many respects, the region till remains the centre of the military confrontation between the two major military Powers, the United States and the Soviet Union, as well as between NATO and the Warsaw Treaty Organization.
    • Prevention of nuclear war
      Removing the threat of a nuclear war, the General Assembly formally stated at its tenth special session, in 1978, was the “most urgent task of the present day”. That view has been reaffirmed at each of the Assembly’s subsequent regular sessions. At the twelfth special session, in 1982, the Soviet Union made a solemn commitment never to be the first to use nuclear weapons. President Reagan of the United States, addressing the General Assembly the following year, declared: “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” However, while there obviously exists a wide consensus on the principle, there are profound differences on its implementation.
    • Cessation of Nuclear-Weapon tests
      Efforts aimed at the complete cessation of nuclear-weapon tests, prompted initially by political and military considerations, but also by anxiety about the possible effects of radioactive fall-out from such tests, have been pursued since 1957 as an independent item on the nuclear disarmament agenda. A first step towards this objective was taken with the conclusion in 1963 of the Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and under Water, often referred to as the partial test-ban Treaty. In the preamble, the original parties, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States, stated that they sought to achieve “the discontinuance of all test explosions of nuclear weapons for all time” and expressed their determination to continue negotiations to that end. By the end of 1987, the Treaty had 115 parties. Two nuclear-weapon States, China and France, are not among the parties, but, since 1980 and 1974 respectively, they have in fact conducted only underground tests. In 1986, China stated formally that it would not conduct atmospheric tests in the future.
    • Strengthening of the security of Non-Nuclear-Weapon states
      Ever since the beginning of the nuclear age, non-nuclear-weapon States, particularly those which do not belong to one of the major military alliances, have pleaded the need for effective measures that would ensure their security against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. In the view of many of those States, that need has been made all the greater by the unceasing arms race, the continuing increase in the effectiveness and lethality of nuclear weapons and the possibility that growing acceptance of limited nuclear war could increase the likelihood of such a war occurring. The issue was raised forcefully in 1968 in connection with the negotiations on the nuclear non-proliferation Treaty and it has since figured almost uninterruptedly in the agenda of various disarmament forums. No agreed solution has so far been found.
    • Nuclear-Weapon-Free zones
      For the last several decades, there has been considerable support for the idea that the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones would greatly assist in deterring the spread of nuclear weapons and would promote nuclear disarmament. The advocates of this concept have also argued that a nuclear-weapon-free zone would help protect the zonal non-nuclear-weapon States against the use of nuclear weapons and thus materially enhance their security. The 1978 Final Document states that the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at among the States of the region concerned constitutes an important disarmament measure, and that the process of establishing such zones in different parts of the world should be encouraged with the ultimate objective of achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.
    • International co-operation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy
      For many years international discussions on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy—both within the United Nations and elsewhere—have reflected two divergent approaches. In the first approach, stress is laid on the potential benefits of the peaceful application of this source of energy for a variety of purposes, particularly the generation of electric power. That approach is to some extent in conflict with the approach that emphasizes the risks engendered by the spread of nuclear material, equipment and technology that might lend themselves to the manufacture of nuclear weapons.
    • IAEA safeguards and related activities
      This chapter has been provided by the International Atomic Energy Agency. It deals primarily with safeguards and related activities of the Agency during 1987 and describes the situation as of the end of the year. 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 Agency’s establishment in 1956, and thus their methodology has been described briefly in earlier editions of The Yearbook.
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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
    • Prevention of an arms race in outer space
      The space age is said to have started in 1957, when for the first time a man-made object was lofted into orbit around the Earth. Since that date, the peaceful uses of outer space have been discussed in the United Nations, particularly in the General Assembly and the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its subsidiary bodies. Those discussions have contributed to the conclusion of a number of international agreements concerning both military and peaceful aspects of the use of outer space.
    • New weapons of mass destruction: Radiological weapons
      The possibility of the emergence of new weapons of mass destruction was taken into account by the Commission for Conventional Armaments in 1948, when it defined such weapons “to include atomic explosive weapons, radioactive material weapons, lethal chemical and biological weapons, and any weapons developed in the future which have characteristics comparable in destructive effect to those of the atomic bomb or other weapons mentioned above”. At that time, “radioactive material weapons”, now known as radiological weapons (devices containing radioactive substances, which are dispersed by conventional explosives), did not exist, and they are still not known to be produced.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Consideration of conventional disarmament and other approaches

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    • Conventional weapons
      While the problem of the reduction of conventional armaments and armed forces was first addressed by the General Assembly during its earliest sessions, the parallel questions of nuclear disarmament and prohibiting weapons of mass destruction have dominated international disarmament efforts since then. Yet, all military conflicts since 1945 have been fought with nonnuclear weapons and the global annual military expenditure on such armaments is estimated to account for over 80 per cent of total annual military expenditure. While conventional war would not appear to threaten the survival of mankind as might a nuclear war, its potential destructiveness has greatly increased with the development of ever more powerful conventional arms.
    • Reduction of military budgets
      Proposals on the reduction of military budgets, based on the conviction that such measures would facilitate the disarmament process and help release resources for economic and social development, were made in the General Assembly during the 1950s and 1960s. In 1973, a proposal submitted by the Soviet Union led to the adoption of resolution 3093 A (XXVIII), by which the Assembly called upon the permanent members of the Security Council to reduce their military budgets by 10 per cent and to designate a portion of the funds thus saved for the provision of development assistance to developing countries. The other permanent members of the Security Council opposed the proposal for various reasons.
    • International conference on the relationship between disarmament and development
      In its efforts to achieve its separate goals in the field of disarmament and development, the United Nations has, since its inception, become progressively involved with the relationship between these two vital issues facing the international community. As early as 1950, the General Assembly recognized, by resolution 380 (V), that it was necessary for the international community 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, with due regard to the needs of the underdeveloped areas of the world”. Since then, the Assembly has frequently returned to the subject, and expressions of concern at the continuing military expenditures, calls for diverting resources released through disarmament to socio-economic development, and interest in examining the various issues raised by the relationship between disarmament and development have all contributed to a growing United Nations involvement.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Information and studies

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    • United Nations disarmament studies programme
      Authorized by General Assembly resolutions, United Nations disarmament studies are carried out by the Secretary -General with the assistance of experts and consultants appointed by him. Since the early 1960s, they have been prepared with the intention of, among other things, assisting the disarmament negotiating process through analysis and by providing information. In 1985, the General Assembly reaffirmed by resolution 40/152 K the value of United Nations studies as a useful means by which important issues in the field of arm limitation and disarmament could be addressed in a comprehensive and detailed manner.
    • World disarmament campaign and observance of disarmament week
      The important role which world public op inion can play in efforts to promote the cause of disarmament was underlined by the General Assembly in the 1978 Final Document. It was declared that in order for an international conscience to develop and for world public opinion to exercise a positive influence, the United Nations should increase the dissemination of information on the armaments race and disarmament with the full co-operation of Member States. The week starting 24 October, the day of the founding of the United Nations, was proclaimed as Disarmament Week, a week devoted to fostering the objectives of disarmament.
    • Work of the Advisory Board on disarmament studies
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