Abdulla Shahid (General Assembly President) at the High-level plenary meeting to commemorate and promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons
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Opening remarks by Abdulla Shahid, President of the United Nations General Assembly, at the High-level plenary meeting to commemorate and promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons - General Assembly, 76th session




Over 76 years ago, the world bore witness to the horrific consequences of nuclear weapons.


The two atomic bombs that devastated the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – and killed nearly 300,000 people – dramatically escalated humankind's destructive capacity. At the same time, it demonstrated, perhaps truly for the first time, our very real ability to wipe out the entirety of the human race.


While many countries continue to keep and invest in nuclear arsenals for their safety and security, the result is actually quite the opposite. Approximately 15,000 nuclear weapons are still spread around the world, with hundreds on high alert and ready to be launched at a moment's notice. This is deeply alarming and collectively makes the world less safe.


The United Nations General Assembly has long recognized these dangers. So much so in fact that the first ever resolution passed by the General Assembly in 1946 called for global nuclear disarmament. 


That struggle continues to this day.


The entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, on 22 January 2021, was a milestone in our efforts toward nuclear disarmament. I urge member states that have not done so to consider ratifying this groundbreaking treaty. Universal adherence to it is crucial to our pursuit of a nuclear free world.


And the agreement, between the Russian Federation and the United States of America, to extend the "New START Treaty" for an additional five-year period, through 2026, is a deeply welcome move.




While there is progress, there are at least 15,000 reasons why much more remains to be done.


Going forward, we need to redouble our efforts to ensure meaningful progress in global nuclear disarmament.


As we mark the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty this year, there is a pressing urgency on us to make this treaty an effective legal framework. 


I call on those Member States that have not yet signed or ratified the treaty to do so without delay - especially those whose ratification is needed for the treaty to enter into force.


Likewise, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons remains the cornerstone of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. That is why the upcoming 2020 Review Conference of the Treaty of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is so important.


Let us use this opportunity to renew our commitments toward non-proliferation, nuclear-disarmament, and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.  I urge all parties to set aside differences to reach mutually agreeable steps towards total elimination.




Since 2013, we have annually marked 26 September as the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapon. The purpose of this commemoration is to mobilize political commitment towards ridding the world of its nuclear arsenals. Let us do that now. Let us demonstrate our commitment to a better world.


I would like to note that COVID-19 has forced us to reflect on the kind of world we want to live in. Nuclear weapons are incompatible with our collective views of this new world, as spelled out in the UN75 survey results.


Excellencies, our constituents expect a world built on hope – where humanity is in harmony with nature, where strength is measured in our coming together for a common and just cause, and where future generations can be proud that our actions today have resulted in a planet that is at peace with it.


Under my Presidency of Hope, I will engage with Member States to see how we can quickly and comprehensively free the world of its nuclear arsenals. With our collective determination, I am confident that we can deliver on this commitment.


And I thank you.