Since joining the United Nations as its 99th Member, in 1960, Nigeria has played pivotal roles in the United Nations as a responsible and active member of the organization. Probably the greatest demonstration of this preponderant role is on the First committee which deals with disarmament and International Peace and Security where for several years Nigeria has remained the coordinator of the 53-member –strong the African Group.
The importance of the First Committee cannot be overemphasized as it is our studied conviction that Peace and development have an inextricable linkage. On the question of disarmament, the two principal clusters: weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and conventional weapons, in particular small arms and light weapons (SALW) category have engaged the Nigerian delegations at all sessions of the United Nations General Assembly and at all international fora. In matters concerning weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the Nuclear weapons pose the greatest threat to human existence. The Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is the treaty that more countries have ratified than any other arms limitation and disarmament agreement, a testament to the Treaty’s significance. For this reason and many others, Nigeria had been a major credible voice and to demonstrate her unwavering, commitment she was one of the first Member States to sign the Non Nuclear proliferation Treaty (NPT) on July 1st, 1968.
For thirteen years, Nigeria has remained one of the foremost promoters of the African Treaty of Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone, called the Pelindaba Treaty. It entered into force on 15th July, 2009.
One of the dividends of Nigeria’s campaign for universal, total and irreversible elimination of nuclear weapons, is the recent declaration at the UN Security Council summit chaired by the USA on 24-25 September, 2009, in which President Barak Obama, declared his country’s readiness to pursue vigorously the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-ban-Treaty (CTBT) – a development the realization of which may make the world a safer place for us all.
The Peaceful use of Nuclear Energy is the third pillar of NPT and it establishes the inalienable rights of all countries to peaceful uses of Nuclear Energy. They are entitled to transfer of nuclear technology and materials as NPT signatory countries to the development of civilian nuclear energy programs in their countries, as long as they can demonstrate that their nuclear programs are not being diverted to the development of nuclear weapons. Nigeria had been cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the uses of Nuclear Energy for electricity generation, medical sciences, and agricultural research.
While not by themselves causing the conflicts in which they are used, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons affects the intensity and duration of violence and encourages militancy rather than a peaceful resolution of unsettled differences. Perhaps most grievously, we see a vicious circle in which insecurity leads to a higher demand for weapons, which itself breed still greater insecurity, and so on. In terms on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALWs) Nigeria had for several years canvassed vigorously, for a universal, legally-binding treaty (ATT) to control and eventually eliminate production, transfer and sales of illicit arms which contribute immensely to destabilization of governments especially in Africa and most developing countries. . A Group of 24 Government Experts (GGE) was appointed to further examine the issue and report back to the General Assembly in 2008. The group, which was chaired by Ambassador Roberto García Moritán of Argentina, concluded its work after meeting for three sessions at UN Headquarters in 2008. The group’s report was submitted to the 63rd session of the General Assembly .Nigeria had been on the 24-member group.
As a country, Nigeria had signed and has being abiding by its treaty obligations from NPT, which it was one of the first to sign in 1968, to the African Nuclear Weapon-Free Treaty called the Treaty of Pelindaba of the July 15th, 2009.