2020 UN Disarmament Yearbook

Volume 45, Part II

UNIFIL assessment team visits explosion site in Beirut. Peacekeepers of the United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon (UNIFIL) assess the damages in the Beirut Port on 5 August 2020 after the explosion the day before from the detonation of 2,750 tons of high-density ammonium nitrate. The devastation caused by the incident has renewed attention on the need for safe and secure through-life management (production, acquisition, transportation, storage, handling and end use) of explosive precursors and other dangerous goods around the world. (UN Photo/Pasqual Gorriz)

It is my pleasure to introduce Part II of the 2020 United Nations Disarmament Yearbook. Now in its forty-fifth consecutive year of publication, the Yearbook continues to be the pre-eminent source of objective information for diplomats, civil society advocates and members of the public on each year’s developments in the field of multilateral disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted and challenged institutions of governance at every level, arriving as the world was preparing to commemorate, among many other pivotal milestones, the seventy-fifth anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. When the escalating public health crisis forced States to postpone the tenth Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in late March—just weeks before it was scheduled to begin—the lost opportunity was perhaps felt most keenly by the scores of atomic-bomb survivors who could no longer appear in person to plea, on behalf of humanity, for progress towards a nuclear-weapon-free world.

The impact of COVID-19 on our field was far broader, however, extending beyond the work of intergovernmental forums to reshape the harms that weapons cause in conflicts and homes. Illicit arms networks thrived as societies faced widespread unemployment and unrest, and firearms fuelled part of a devastating surge in gender-based, domestic violence. The Secretary-General pressed for a global ceasefire to support the international pandemic response; yet, despite his call receiving the unanimous support of the Security Council, fighting persisted around the world, and global military spending continued to climb.

20 Jan–27 Mar
Conference on Disarmament, 1st session
5 Mar
50th anniversary: Entry into force of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
50th anniversary of the NPT - event on 3 March 2020

A special event on 3 March 2020 commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

26 Mar
45th anniversary: Entry into force of the Biological Weapons Convention
microscopic shot of a virus

A virus seen through a microscope. Photo by CDC from Pexels

11 May
25th anniversary: Indefinite extension of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
25 May–10 July
Conference on Disarmament, 2nd session
17 June
95th anniversary: Signing of the 1925 Geneva Protocol
3 Aug–18 Sept
Conference on Disarmament, 3rd session
6 Aug
35th anniversary: Opening for signature of the Rarotonga Treaty
14 Sept
15th anniversary: Opening for signature of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism
Bush signs treaty

President George W. Bush of the United States (left) signs the Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism at the United Nations Headquarters on 14 Sept. 2005. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

1 Oct
20th anniversary: Establishment of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research
6 Oct–10 Nov
Seventy-fifth session of the First Committee of the General Assembly
24 Oct
75th anniversary: Establishment of the United Nations
Guterres posing with UN Charter preamble

To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, Member and Observer States signed the preamble of the United Nations Charter as a symbolic gesture of recommitment to its principles. Secretary-General António Guterres poses in front of the Preamble of the Charter on 22 Oct. 2020. UN Photo/Manuel Elías

31 Oct
20th anniversary: Adoption of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security
Security Council videoconference

The Security Council members hold an open videoconference on “women, peace and security: sexual violence in conflict” on 17 July 2020. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

19 Nov
30th anniversary: Signing of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe
19 Nov
10th anniversary: Opening for signature of the Kinshasa Convention
23–27 Nov
Second Review Conference of the States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions (Part 1)
8 Dec
10th anniversary: Adoption of General Assembly resolution 65/69 on women, disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control
15 Dec
25th anniversary: Signing of the Bangkok Treaty
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View the 2020 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-fifth 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-fifth session of the General Assembly and the First Committee.

About Yearbook, Part II

Summarizes developments and trends in 2020 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 2020. Has a foreword written by the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.