Historical parallels

On Jan. 18, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev chaired one of the flagship events of the nation’s presidency of the UN Security Council – a high-level briefing themed “Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction: Confidence-Building Measures.”

In his remarks, President Nazarbayev stressed the pivotal role of the UN Security Council in maintaining security and legitimacy in the international arena. He noted that both the election of Kazakhstan as a non-permanent member of the Security Council and its presidency reflect the confidence of the world community placed upon the country and its peace-loving policy.

The President proposed specific measures aimed at strengthening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)-based non-proliferation regime. He reminded the nuclear powers of their special responsibility for preventing a nuclear catastrophe and urged prevention of an unwinding arms race and militarisation of the outer space. He stressed the need to restore political trust and a systematic dialogue in international affairs and brought up Kazakhstan’s non-nuclear path as an example and a practical guide for other countries.

Kazakhstan ratified NPT in December 1993, and the UN General Assembly welcomed this historic decision in its resolution at the 49th session in 1994 for the first time and later at subsequent sessions.

Kazakhstan was one of the founders of the nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia, which entered into force in 2009. We were also proactively engaged in international efforts to develop and adopt the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and among the first states to sign it in September 1996.

The UN General Assembly’s decision to announce Aug. 29 – the date when the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site was closed – as the International Day against Nuclear Tests has been a clear recognition of Kazakhstan’s achievements in nuclear disarmament and outlawing nuclear testing.

This historic contribution and the country’s consistent position on nuclear testing and non-proliferation were once again reconfirmed and recognised by the world community at the Jan. 18 meeting of the UN Security Council.

It is symbolic that Kazakhstan’s first presidency of the UN Security Council happened to be in January. This brings to mind historical parallels when 26 years ago at the instruction of President Nazarbayev, I had the honour to be involved in preparing an independent Kazakhstan’s accession to the UN.

It was on Jan. 3, 1992, that the UN Secretary-General published a document signed by President Nazarbayev and entitled “Application of the Republic of Kazakhstan for admission to membership in the United Nations” as the General Assembly and the Security Council document.

That same day this was also announced at a Security Council meeting. The Council reviewed Kazakhstan’s application on Jan. 16 and forwarded it to the Committee on Admission of New Members for examination. The Security Council’s Jan. 23 historic meeting adopted a unanimous decision to recommend to the UN General Assembly to accept Kazakhstan as a new member of the United Nations.

At that meeting on Jan. 23, 1992, in his statement on behalf of the Council its President, the British Ambassador, called it a truly historic occasion and said he had no doubt that the country “will have an important contribution to make in every area of United Nations work.” He also said the Council members were convinced that Kazakhstan as a peace-loving state would actively and constructively facilitate implementation of the UN Charter purposes and principles. Today, it is obvious that the UN Security Council members’ wish has been fully translated into reality.

On March 2, 1992, our country, along with eight other states, was unanimously admitted to the UN at the plenary session of the 47th UN General Assembly session.

Over a quarter of a century of Kazakhstan’s independence and UN membership, a great historic journey has been made thanks to the Kazakh President’s balanced and consistent foreign policy. Today, Kazakhstan is a respected member of the global organisation and the president of the UN Security Council charged with the primary responsibility to maintain peace and security on the planet.

Kazakhstan brings to the Security Council its unique experience of meaningful participation in tackling urgent world political problems in the fields of preventive diplomacy and confidence-building measures, settling conflicts, enforcing regional and global security and countering terrorism. Kazakhstan’s international initiatives fully meet the UN Charter’s provisions on strengthening regional stability and global security across the world.

The country’s first international initiative to convene a Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, proposed by President Nazarbayev from the UN rostrum on Oct. 5, 1992, has become a genuine factor in strengthening security in Asia and united 26 countries representing almost half of the planet’s population. The Astana Process on Syria, which began in January 2017, has been recognised as an important dialogue platform for addressing the Syrian conflict in addition to the Geneva talks. It has led to a ceasefire agreement, the establishment of de-escalation zones in Syria and a monitoring mechanism.

Consolidation of the UN’s central role in solving global problems, enhancing its importance as an effective tool for global concerted actions to confront new threats and to find answers to the current challenges have always been and remain the main priority of our country’s foreign policy in the area of multilateral diplomacy.


The author is Ambassador-at-Large of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, a former Foreign Minister of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic and the independent Kazakhstan’s first Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

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