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Veteran Peace Campaigner Appointed to UN

Press Release: 9.1.08

Veteran Peace Campaigner Appointed to UN Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Disarmament

Dr Kate Dewes, veteran peace and disarmament campaigner and Coordinator of the Peace Foundation Disarmament & Security Centre in Christchurch, has been appointed by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to his Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters. The Secretary-General chooses Board members from all regions of the world for their knowledge and experience in the field of disarmament and international security.

The Board's functions are:

1) To advise the Secretary-General on matters within the area of arms limitation and disarmament;

2) To serve as the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), based in Geneva;

3) To advise the Secretary-General on the implementation of the UN Disarmament Information Programme.

The Board meets twice a year: Dr Dewes will attend her first meeting in New York 20-22 February, and then in Geneva in July. In recognition of the influential role of civil society in the field of multilateral disarmament, the Board exchanges views at its meetings with representatives of the NGO Committees on Disarmament.

The current Board membership of 19 includes Ambassadors and officials from China, Egypt, France, Israel, Italy, Japan, Russia, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Sweden; academics from Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, the UK and US; and the Executive Director of the Movement against Small Arms in West Africa based in Senegal.

This appointment complements the role played by New Zealand's former Disarmament Ambassador Tim Caughley, who was appointed by the UN in 2006 as Director of Disarmament Affairs in Geneva and Deputy Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament.

Dr Dewes is deeply honoured by this appointment. "It reflects the high profile New Zealand citizen groups, government officials and parliamentarians have in the field of peace and disarmament", she says. "For example, while I am in New York for the first Board meeting, the NZ Government will be hosting a major international conference in Wellington as the next step in negotiations to ban cluster munitions."

She sees her initial two-year appointment as a wonderful opportunity to follow up on the work she did from 2000-2002 as the NZ Government expert on a UN Study on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Education.

Dr Dewes will be able to draw upon her experience over more than 30 years of campaigning for peace and disarmament, including her role in the World Court Project 1987-96, a Christchurch-initiated citizen campaign which resulted in a ruling from the International Court of Justice that the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be generally illegal. "My hope is that I will also be able to support the NZ Government's efforts to revive progress in the struggle for a nuclear weapon-free world, following their recent success in sponsoring a UN resolution calling for the de-alerting of all nuclear weapons."

ENDS


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