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Weapons of Mass Destruction Branch Department for Disarmament Affairs

The Weapons of Mass Destruction Branch provides substantive support for the activities of the United Nations in the area of  weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical and biological weapons), including the threat of use of weapons of mass destruction in terrorist acts, as well as missiles. The Branch follows closely all developments and trends with regard to weapons of mass destruction in all their aspects in order to keep the Secretary-General fully informed and to provide information to Member States and the international community. The Branch supports, and participates in, multilateral efforts to strengthen the international norm on disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and, in this connection,  it cooperates with relevant intergovernmental organizations and specialized agencies of the United Nations system, in particular the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO PrepCom).

Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is a landmark multilateral treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament. The Treaty represents the only binding commitment by the nuclear-weapon States at the multilateral level to the goal of nuclear disarmament. Opened for signature on 1 July 1968, the Treaty entered into force on 5 March 1970. A total of 188 States have joined the Treaty, including the five nuclear-weapon States. More countries have ratified the NPT than any other arms limitation and disarmament agreement, a testament to the Treaty's significance. NPT page

Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) bans all nuclear explosions, for military or civil purposes.  After three years of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament (CD), the CTBT was adopted on 10 September 1996 by the United Nations General Assembly and opened for signature on 24 September 1996.  The CTBT will enter into force 180 days after it has been ratified by the 44 States that are identified in Annex II to the Treaty and that possess nuclear power or research reactors. CTBT page

Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention)

After 12 years of negotiations, the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) was adopted by the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on 3 September 1992.  The CWC contains a mechanism for verifying compliance by States with the provisions of the Convention that is unprecedented in scope and in the stringency of its verification regime.  The CWC opened for signature in Paris on 13 January 1993 and entered into force on 29 April 1997.  The CWC is the first disarmament agreement negotiated within a multilateral framework that provides for the elimination of an entire category of weapons of mass destruction under universally applied international control. CWC page

Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention)

As a result of prolonged efforts by the international community to establish a new instrument that would supplement the 1925 Geneva Protocol, the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), the first multilateral disarmament treaty banning the production and use of an entire category of weapons, was opened for signature on 10 April 1972.  The BWC entered into force on 26 March 1975.  However, the absence of any formal verification regime to monitor compliance has limited the effectiveness of the Convention.  BWC page


The international community has long been concerned by the accumulation, proliferation, technical refinement and threat and use of ballistic and other types of missiles.  In response, States have pursued various unilateral, bilateral and multilateral measures.  Nonetheless, there is no universally accepted norm or instrument specifically governing the development, testing, production, acquisition, transfer, deployment or use of missiles. By its resolution 55/33 A of 20 November 2000, entitled "Missiles", the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General, with the assistance of a Panel of Governmental Experts, to prepare a report for the consideration of the General Assembly at its 57th session on the issue of missiles in all its aspects.  The Panel, after holding three sessions in 2001 and 2002, adopted a report by consensus and submitted it to the General Assembly at its 57th session.  Missiles page

WMD Terrorism

The terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 in the United States of America caused the international community to focus on the issue of terrorism with renewed intensity. Terrorism is a global threat with global effects and its consequences affect every aspect of the United Nations agenda -- from development to peace to human rights to the rule of law.  A Policy Working Group on the United Nations and Terrorism was established at the behest of the Secretary-General in October 2001. Its purpose is to identify the longer-term implications and broad policy dimensions of terrorism for the United Nations and to formulate recommendations on the steps that the United Nations might take to address the issue. The discussions in the Policy Working Group include the issue of the potential use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in terrorist acts and the role of the United Nations in international efforts against WMD terrorism.  Terrorism page





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