Secretary-General’s address at the Harvard Foundation

2nd December 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen, The threat of climate change is on the international radar. A second danger has receded from view but remains poised to do great harm: nuclear weapons. In discussing this question, I want to take my cue from the humanitarian theme of this event. Nuclear weapons cannot be used without jeopardizing civilians. Even a limited or regional nuclear war can alter our climate and produce famine conditions. This humanitarian perspective on nuclear weapons is attracting growing attention. People are becoming more familiar with the environmental effects of decades of nuclear tests. They are learning how close the world has come in the past to nuclear conflicts, and how “good luck” was the factor that made the difference between peace and cataclysm. People are also asking why the nuclear powers are spending vast sums to modernize arsenals instead of eliminating them, which they committed to do under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Where are their disarmament plans? They do not exist. Important work has been done to keep fissile materials from reaching terrorists or other hostile actors. But ultimately, there are no right hands for wrong weapons. That is why disarmament has been an official goal of the United Nations since 1946. Next week Governments and civil society will gather in Vienna to challenge the belief that nuclear weapons should be valued as a rational basis for defense and national prestige. (UN NEWS)

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[source: UNODA]