Research Guides United Nations Office at Geneva Library & Archives

Disarmament: Global Issues

Lists UN Organs dealing with disarmament as well as tools to find UN documents

Main UN Organs

Established in 1945 under the Charter of the United Nations, the General Assembly occupies a central position as the chief deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations.

The Disarmament and International Security Committee, one of six main committees of the United Nations General Assembly, deals with disarmament and related international security questions.

The United Nations Disarmament Commission is a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly, composed of all Member States of the United Nations, with the function of considering and making recommendations on various problems in the field of disarmament .

The CD is the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community.

Composed of 15 members, it takes the lead in determining the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression.

  • Security Council Resolution 1540: Adopted in 2004 by the Security Council under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, it compels States to abstain from supporting non-State actors from developing, acquiring, manufacturing, possessing, transporting, transferring or using nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their delivery systems. The Security Council established a committee to oversee the implementation of the resolution.

The three SSOD, SSOD-I in 1978, SSOD-II in 1982 and SSOD-III in 1988, convened to deal exclusively with issues related to arms control and disarmament. The GA has been calling for a fourth session on disarmament and established a Working Group in 2003 to discuss a possible SSOD-IV.

The ABDM meets twice a year in Geneva and New York to advise the Secretary-General on issues related to disarmament and on the implementation of the United Nations Disarmament Information Programme. It also serves as the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR)

UN Offices, Institutes and Programmes

UNODA promotes the goal of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and the strengthening of the disarmament regimes in respect to other weapons of mass destruction, chemical and biological weapons. It also promotes disarmament efforts in the area of conventional weapons, especially land mines and small arms, which are the weapons of choice in contemporary conflicts.

UNIDIR is an autonomous institute within the United Nations and conducts research on disarmament and security with the aim of assisting the international community in their disarmament thinking, decisions and efforts. Through its research projects, publications, small meetings and expert networks, UNIDIR promotes creative thinking and dialogue on the disarmament and security challenges of today and of tomorrow.

UNDP is the UN's global development network, an organization advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life.

UN Regional Centres

The Regional Disarmament Branch (RDB) is the operational arm of UNODA at the regional, subregional and national levels. It provides, upon request, substantive support for initiatives and other efforts of Member States regarding disarmament and confidence-building measures. It assists in the coordination of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation policies and activities and contributes to UN discussions and joint programming on issues such as security sector reform, armed violence prevention and reduction, and gender mainstreaming.

The Regional Centres engage in cooperation regional and subregional organisations on disarmament-related issues, such as the African Union (AU) and the Organization of American States (OAS), and subregional organisations such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Andean Community, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Community of West African States, the Pacific Islands Forum, the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation, the Regional Centre on Small Arms and Light Weapons, the Southern African Development Community, and others.

The branch serves over 135 countries and comprises a New York-based office as well as three UN Regional Centres for Peace and Disarmament: