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Dennis Francis (General Assembly President) at…

Dennis Francis (General Assembly President) at the High-level plenary meeting to commemorate and promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons - General Assembly, 78th session
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Opening remarks by Dennis Francis, President of the 78th session of the General Assembly, at the High-level plenary meeting to commemorate and promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons - General Assembly, 78th session

Ladies and Gentlemen,



I stand before you today with a stark reminder – nuclear weapons pose an existential threat to all humanity.


I wish I were being hyperbolic, but the truth is that the risk of nuclear annihilation is not a chapter from our past; it is a haunting reality of our present.


Our world is unprecedently fractured, torn by divisions that manifest themselves at every level, even within these hallowed halls.


Reports paint a grim picture, revealing that over the last 15 years, violence has been on the rise at all levels - from interstate conflicts to intrastate strife, from state-sponsored aggression to violent actions by non-state actors.


And the threat of nuclear force is once again being implied, to our collective shock and horror. 


This is not just concerning; it is downright terrifying.


There is a domino effect to a nuclear armed multipolar world, and the more agitated people and nations become, the higher the risk of stumbling mistakenly into a nuclear nightmare.


We should never underestimate the human propensity for destruction.


There is only one path to avoid nuclear Armageddon: that is the complete and absolute elimination of nuclear weapons.


However, Excellencies,


The architecture of nuclear disarmament finds itself in a perilous deadlock.


We must transition from the margins of abstract debate to decisive action and rigorous verification on nuclear disarmament.





Let us reject the fatalistic notion that nuclear disarmament is an unattainable dream.


Attaining a world devoid of nuclear weapons stands as the final stride towards the correct political decision – a choice for peace, dialogue, and the well-being of humanity.


Here are steps we can take – and must take – to advance towards the elimination of nuclear weapons:


First, we must all acknowledge that the elimination of nuclear weapons is a moral imperative. The strategic goals or interests of any single nation or coalition cannot outweigh the collective aspirations of all people worldwide to lead lives of peace and dignity.


Second, a global movement against nuclear weapons and proliferation must be galvanised. Engaging young campaigners in this cause can generate the momentum required for concrete and courageous political decisions.


Third, we must lead by example. Our aim should be no less than complete denuclearization. It is a promise we owe to the present and future generations. We must deliver and we must act now.


Furthermore, we can, and we must, use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes by also leveraging the important initiatives being championed by entities such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).


Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,


The path to a world free from the threat of nuclear devastation is fraught with challenges, but it is a path we must unflinchingly tread.


The survival of nations, the preservation of humanity, and the protection of our beloved planet demand no less.


In the words of Beatrice Fihn, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and advocate for disarmament, "The only rational course of action is to cease living under the conditions where our mutual destruction is only one impulsive tantrum away."


I thank you.