UN in Vienna Celebrates the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

OrganizationsInternational Organizations ♦ Published: September 26, 2022; 11:16 ♦ (Vindobona)

On the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, the United Nations draws attention to the important issue of nuclear disarmament. The day, which has been celebrated since 2014, is intended to raise awareness of the enormous international stockpiles of nuclear weapons and to make member states aware of the importance of joint disarmament.

The goal of complete nuclear disarmament is still a long way off. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons / United States Department of Energy, Public domain

Today is the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. The commemorative day, which was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 2013, was one of the latest efforts to raise public awareness and engagement on nuclear disarmament issues. In 2009, the General Assembly had declared 29 August as the International Day Against Nuclear Tests.

The International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons has been celebrated annually since 2014. According to General Assembly resolutions, Member States, the United Nations system and civil society, including non-governmental organisations, academics, parliamentarians, mass media and individuals are encouraged to commemorate and promote the International Day by increasing public awareness and education on the threat posed to humanity by nuclear weapons and the need for their complete elimination.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres illustrated the enormous importance of this day by saying: "The abolition of these tools of death is not only possible, but necessary."

He issued a stark warning about the dangers of escalating conflict in Ukraine: "At a time of increasing geopolitical division, mistrust and outright aggression, we run the risk of forgetting the terrible lessons of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the Cold War, and invoking a humanitarian Armageddon."

He said he hoped for the abolition of nuclear weapons in the future, as this would lead to a safer world and would be "the greatest gift we could give" to future generations.


Global nuclear disarmament is one of the oldest goals of the United Nations. It was the subject of the first General Assembly resolution in 1946, and the United Nations has been at the forefront of many important diplomatic efforts to promote nuclear disarmament since then.

Yet today there are still some 12,705 nuclear weapons in existence. The countries that possess such weapons have well-funded, long-term plans to modernise their nuclear arsenals.

More than half of the world's population still lives in countries that either possess such weapons or are members of nuclear alliances. Although the number of deployed nuclear weapons has decreased significantly since the height of the Cold War, not a single nuclear weapon has been physically destroyed under a treaty. Moreover, no negotiations on nuclear disarmament are currently taking place.

In the meantime, the doctrine of nuclear deterrence remains an element of the security policy of all states possessing nuclear weapons and many of their allies.

The international arms control framework that has contributed to international security since the Cold War, curbed the use of nuclear weapons and advanced nuclear disarmament, is coming under increasing pressure. The United States' withdrawal on 2 August 2019 marked the end of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, in which the United States and the Russian Federation had previously committed to eliminating an entire class of nuclear missiles.

Frustration has grown among member states over the perceived slow pace of nuclear disarmament. This frustration has been compounded by growing concerns about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the use of even a single nuclear weapon, let alone a regional or global nuclear war.

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