Excerpts from "Multilateral Approaches to WMD Threats After September 11," by Jayantha Dhanapala, Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, United Nations. Delivered to the Arms Control Association, January 22, 2002, Washington, D.C.

"What is perhaps most striking about many responses to the threats posed by both terrorism and weapons of mass destruction is the extent to which these responses rely upon weapons. What is missing from this weapons-based approach to security is an emphasis on the need for deeper multilateral cooperation rooted in binding legal norms and implemented with the assistance of global international organizations."

"The late Paul Warnke once referred to the nuclear arms race as a process much akin to "apes on a treadmill." It is perhaps more apparent today than ever that real change, when it comes to thinking about nuclear weapons, is slow in coming and slower yet in implementation. Extensive international cooperation -- and public participation from civil society -- is needed to ensure that counter-terrorism efforts will escape this familiar syndrome."

"Effective measures against WMD terrorism and on behalf of WMD disarmament simply cannot be accomplished by any single country acting alone. No one country controls all global exports, monitors all transfers of technology, and enforces all legal obligations. Certain dangerous weapons materials -- like plutonium, highly-enriched uranium, and many strains of deadly bacteria and toxins -- are hazardous whoever possesses them, given at the very least the risks of accidents, thefts, and sabotage. These materials are born dangerous. They are dangerous to produce, store, transport, or use even for ostensibly peaceful purposes. They are not dangerous simply when located inside so-called "rogue states." They are dangerous everywhere and always."

"For this reason, multilateral treaty regimes like the BWC, CWC, and NPT serve a triple security purpose -- they serve to prevent the proliferation of such weapons to states; they make it much more difficult for terrorists to acquire significant WMD capabilities; and they promote an equitable, fair, and global public good called disarmament. While subject to improvement, they also serve these ends better than any single state, acting alone, can hope to achieve, and they surely serve these ends better than competitive arms races undertaken in the name of achieving or preserving of military supremacy."


The entire speech is available by clicking here.

Related Resources

U.S. Unilateralism Is Counterproductive, Dhanapala Says Global Security Newswire 23 January 2002.