1. The opening session of the “19th Republic of Korea-United Nations Joint Conference on Disarmament and Non-proliferation Issues” co-hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) took place connecting Seoul with other parts of the world on December 3.
o Mr. Ham Sang-wook, Deputy Minister for Multilateral and Global Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ms. Nakamitsu Izumi, UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, delivered their opening remarks on behalf of the Republic of Korea (ROK) government and the UN, respectively. Around 50 participants, including government officials, delegates of international organizations, and disarmament and non-proliferation experts from home and abroad, attended the Conference online and offline.
o In particular, for the first time in the Conference’s history, the representatives from industrial sector attended and presented new perspectives on the emerging technologies. The voices of future generations were also heard during the Youth Special Session held on December 2.
2. The participants intensively discussed the impact of emerging technologies, including lethal autonomous weapons, hypersonic weapons, space weapons, and biological weapons, on the disarmament and non-proliferation regime as well as their implications in the international fora.
o The participants shared the view that, amid rising competition in strategic technology development among major countries, the emergence of dual-use technologies would have tremendous repercussions not only on foreign, military, security and economic affairs but also on humanitarian affairs, and thus the development, use and proliferation of those weapon systems based on emerging technologies are becoming urgent challenges for the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime.
o Some expressed their views on the issue that the international community should seek common understanding on the responsible development and uses of technologies and based on that, move towards establishing international regime aimed at promoting the peaceful uses of science and technology and preventing arms race and proliferation.
o Deputy Minister Ham Sang-wook particularly stressed the ROK government’s efforts to achieve denuclearization and establish a permanent peace regime on the Korean Peninsula, and requested the international community’s sustained support in this regard.
3. Meanwhile, at the Youth Special Session held on December 2, 25 youth representatives, including the representatives of NPT youth group (ROK), the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) youth group (Burundi), the UN Youth Champions for Disarmament group (Turkey), Responsible Innovation STEM students group (Singapore), and the UN Northeast Asia Youth, Peace, and Security group (Japan), emphasized that youth’s engagement and their roles in discussions on international disarmament and non-proliferation issues should be expanded. A Korean representative from the NPT Youth group drew participants’ attention by addressing youth’s idea on the development of emerging technologies and the role of democracy; preemptive measures; and the need to strengthen multilateralism.
4. The UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, the co-host of the Conference, appreciated that the ROK government has contributed actively to international discussions on important issues through the ROK-UN Joint Conference on Disarmament and Non-proliferation Issues which will mark its 20th anniversary next year, and has made efforts to increase youth engagement, following the adoption of the UN resolution titled “Youth, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation” led by the ROK government at the UN General Assembly last year.