Lahbib to visit UN nuclear weapons non-proliferation conference

Lahbib to visit UN nuclear weapons non-proliferation conference
New Foreign minister Hadja Lahbib pictured during a concert on the eve of Belgium's National Day, Wednesday 20 July 2022, at Bozar in Brussels. BELGA PHOTO HATIM KAGHAT

Hadja Lahbib, Belgium’s newly appointed minister of foreign affairs, is travelling to New York on 31 July as part of the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) at the United Nations. The goal of the meeting will be to create a framework to limit the expansion of nuclear weapons arsenals across the world.

Ratified by more than 190 states globally, including Belgium, the NPT aims to reduce the number of nuclear weapons across the world and meets every five years to review the treaty’s progress.

“This conference will be an opportunity to address the challenges related to nuclear proliferation in specific situations, such as Iran and North Korea,” the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs explains. “The fundamental role of arms control as a confidence-building measure will also be at the heart of the debates.”

During her visit, Lahbib is set to meet with senior UN officials, such as Under-Secretary-General Izumi Nakamitsu, Executive Director of UN Women, Sima Bahous, and Assistant Secretary General for Europe, Central Asia, and the Americas, Miroslav Jenca. Also present at the conference are other foreign ministers from foreign states.

“As you look at the deterioration in relations between world powers and the increasing prominence of nuclear weapons in public discourse, the formidable challenge facing this conference becomes clear,” Lahbib told the press.

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The minister is expected to put forward the political priorities of Belgium, which likely include increased global commitments to nuclear disarmament. “In general, I will also take advantage of this visit to review with the UN officials and several of my counterparts current issues and priority subjects for Belgium,” she concluded.

The minister is expected to conclude her visit to the United States on 2 August. At home, Lahbib is facing increasing criticism for her visit to Russian-occupied Crimea as a journalist last year. Ukrainian authorities are currently investigating whether the minister entered the territory illegally, which could risk souring Belgian-Ukrainian relations.

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