Emblem of the First Committee for Disarmament and International SecurityThe first resolution adopted by the General Assembly in 1946 was on disarmament, and the topic has been a consistent high priority. The First Committee of the Assembly is devoted entirely to the consideration of Disarmament and International Security. Given the state of the world, it is hard to claim that the work of the Assembly has been a success in this area, but it can be said that it has kept issues and aims in focus. Efforts to draw up a comprehensive plan of action at three Special Sessions of the Assembly devoted entirely to disarmament have had limited results.


Poster for the Second Special Session on Disarmament, 1982The 1970s were the first UN Disarmament Decade, and its "meagre achievements" led the General Assembly in 1976 to convene a special session devoted entirely to arms issues. The first Special Session on Disarmament (SSOD -1) met at the United Nations from 23 May to 1 July 1978. The largest and most representative meeting till then on disarmament, SSOD - 1 achieved consensus on a Final Document that set out goals, principles, and priorities. The central role and primary responsibility of the UN in the field of disarmament was stressed, and nuclear weapons were put at the top of list of dangers facing the world. The Assembly affirmed the fundamental importance of disarmament to international peace and security.


In 1979, the General Assembly declared the 1980s as the Second Disarmament Decade. The international situation was not affected by the various initiatives that followed SSOD -1, so the General Assembly convened a second Special Session on Disarmament (SSOD-2) from 7 June to 10 July 1982.


United Nations New York - stamp Disarmament 2004A third special session (SSOD-3) was called in 1988. The Cold War was winding down, and there was a marked relaxation of tensions following the 1986 Stockholm Conference on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures and Disarmament in Europe and the 1987 agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union to eliminate all their intermediate range missiles. US-Soviet talks on a Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) were going well, and the Conference on Disarmament was working smoothly towards the Chemical Weapons Convention. The expectation was that in the new international climate an overall agreement would be possible at SSOD-3, but the hope was illusory. Nothing at all was achieved, and there was no final document.


In 1988, the Assembly decided to declare the 1990s as the Third Disarmament Decade.





The special UN disarmament website.



Stamp catalogue - First Disarmament Decade


Niger                          31 October 1984



Stamp catalogue - Second Disarmament Decade


Niger                          31 October 1984









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last revised: 11 February 2008