2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
“Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Education”
Jeffrey Salim Waheed
Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of Maldives to the United Nations, Chargé d’affaires, a.i.
New York, 30 April 2015
It is a privilege for me to speak on behalf of my delegation, and I would like to congratulate you on your election as the President of this review conference. The Republic of the Maldives looks forward to working under your able leadership during this conference towards a successful outcome.
It has now been forty-five years since we decided to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Forty-five years later, we are still standing here concerned about the threat of nuclear war, about the sanctity of non-proliferation regimes, the foundation for nuclear disarmament, and the guarantee of the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Over half a century we have seen some progress, at least in words, if not in action. We have made progress on the three pillars of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in recent years. Only nine States hold nuclear weapons today. However, as of mid-2014 an estimated 16,300 nuclear weapons remained in global stockpiles. And the record hasn’t changed: in all of history, these weapons of mass destruction have been used twice, by one State against another, at one time. This, we hope and vow, will forever be the very last time. The catastrophic humanitarian consequences that we witnessed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki can never happen again.
While we welcome every step forward, we cannot rest until the dangers of nuclear proliferation are completely eliminated, and the existing stockpiles are drastically reduced and eventually destroyed. Not all the countries who signed the NPT have decreased their stockpiles of weapons. The role that nuclear weapons still play in the security policies of nations is as strong as ever. Thus, there are still countries that expand their arms, continue research into new nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles, and even those that still continue to conduct nuclear tests.
These are steps backwards that we cannot afford to take and that run contrary to the unequivocal undertaking under the NPT to eliminate nuclear weapons. Given the current status quo, and with the rise of non-state actors, including terrorist groups, which operate unregulated, outside the framework of the NPT, there is an ever growing risk that nuclear weapons can fall into the wrong hands.
To free the world of this dreadful menace, we need all States to prevent the proliferation of these weapons. We need all States that have nuclear weapons to honour their commitments to full disarmament and to refrain from nuclear testing. And all States who aspire to attain nuclear capabilities to adopt more humane aspirations and commit not to acquire, develop or produce nuclear weapons. In this context we should also see Non-Proliferation Education. Education to train and empower individuals to make contributions towards the achievement of disarmament and non-proliferation measures under effective, international control.
In civil society, especially among the youth, there is a clear voice for peace and a clear call for disarmament. More urgently than disarmament education at the society level is the need for enlightenment of these issues at the leadership level. Despite all the public demands for disarmament, we as leaders fail. The Maldives asks the children of today who are the future of tomorrow to continue calling for peace and disarmament—and we ask the leaders in the room to listen to them.
Global peace and security can only be achieved through collaboration and diligent action. We must strive collectively towards a nuclear weapon free world. Collectively: all countries, big and small alike, we have to stand together, side by side, and choose to close this dark chapter of human history.