2021 UN Disarmament Yearbook

Volume 46, Part II

Youth around the world #StepUp4Disarmament to commemorate the International Day Against Nuclear Tests on 29 August 2021. Photo credit (clockwise from top): Shaun and Marykate Monaghan, Vanda Proskova, Lucia Centallas (Bolivian Women's Efforts), Yusuf Dominic, Julia Rodriguez (Permanent Mission of El Salvador to the United Nations), Juan Pablo Torrico (Bolivian Women's Efforts) and Yusuf Dominic

Welcome to Part II of the 2021 United Nations Disarmament Yearbook. Since 1976, this annual flagship publication of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs has provided comprehensive, objective information for diplomats and the interested public on multilateral efforts to advance the cause of peace through the regulation, control and elimination of weapons.

In 2021, those efforts continued to face significant headwinds from the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond significantly limiting the ability of intergovernmental forums to tackle pressing concerns related to disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control in formal, in-person meetings, the pandemic complicated the delivery of humanitarian aid to conflict-scarred communities while eroding gains made in recent years towards greater economic and gender equality. Furthermore, even as COVID-19 underscored the urgent need for societies around the world to direct additional public resources into critical sectors such as public health, global military expenditures surged to a new, record-breaking high while armed clashes persisted.

Against that backdrop, 2021 nonetheless saw important moments of progress. The year’s landmark developments included, on 22 January, the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. That seminal accomplishment was followed, in early February, by a five-year extension of the Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START Treaty). The decision of the United States and the Russian Federation to extend their only bilateral, legally binding agreement on nuclear arms control within days of its scheduled expiration further highlighted the need to expeditiously lay the foundation for the next generation of arms control.

18 Jan–26 Mar
Conference on Disarmament, 1st session
22 Jan
Entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
United Nations Headquarters with "#NuclearBan" banner

George de Castro Day/New York Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

24 Jan
75th anniversary: First United Nations General Assembly resolution
First General Assembly resolution
11 Feb
50th anniversary: Opening for signature of the Sea-bed Treaty
10 Apr
40th anniversary: Opening for signature of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons
Chemist and technical consultant at blast site

A United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination chemist and an Ammunition Management Advisory Team technical consultant analyse explosive ordnance at the blast site in Bata in March 2021.

11 Apr
25th anniversary: Signing of the Pelindaba Treaty
10 May–25 Jun
Conference on Disarmament, 2nd session
31 May
20th anniversary: Adoption of the Firearms Protocol
Firearms burning during destruction

A collection of 1,184 firearms gathered during the 2020 Africa Amnesty Month are destroyed in Kajado county, Kenya, in June 2021.

26 Jun
60th anniversary: Entry into force of the Antarctic Treaty
20 Jul
20th anniversary: Adoption of the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons
26 Jul–10 Sep
Conference on Disarmament, 3rd session
29 Aug
30th anniversary: Closure of the nuclear test site in Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan
8 Sep
15th anniversary: Opening for signature of the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia
20–21 Sep
Second Review Conference of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (second part)
Cluster munitions

Cluster bomb submunitions gathered for destruction. UNMAS/Christian Lamontagne

21 Sep
40th anniversary: International Day of Peace
24 Sep
25th anniversary: Opening for signature of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty
30 Sep–5 Nov
Seventy-sixth session of the First Committee of the General Assembly
11 Dec
35th anniversary: Entry into force of the Rarotonga Treaty
13–17 Dec
Sixth Review Conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons
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View the 2021 Disarmament Yearbook, Parts I and II, in PDF or e-book format.

About Yearbook, Part I

Compiles the disarmament resolutions and decisions of the seventy-sixth session of the General Assembly, the voting patterns in the General Assembly and the First Committee report and dates of their adoption. Contains a snapshot of votes by thematic cluster of resolution numbers, titles and votes in the seventy-sixth session of the General Assembly and the First Committee.

About Yearbook, Part II

Summarizes developments and trends in 2021 on key issues of multilateral consideration at the international and regional levels. Reviews the activity of the General Assembly, the Conference on Disarmament and the Disarmament Commission. Contains a timelime that highlights events in multilateral disarmament in 2021. Has a foreword written by the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.