United Nations ODA was established in January 1998 as the Department for Disarmament Affairs which was part of the SG’s programme for reform in accordance with his report to the General Assembly (A/51/950). It was originally established in 1982 upon the recommendation of the General Assembly’s second special session on disarmament (SSOD II). In 1992, its name was changed to Centre for Disarmament Affairs, under the Department of Political Affairs. At the end of 1997, it was renamed Department for Disarmament Affairs and in 2007, it became the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs.
The Office for Disarmament Affairs supports multilateral efforts aimed at achieving the ultimate goal of general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control. The mandate for the programme is derived from the priorities established in relevant General Assembly resolutions and decisions in the field of disarmament, including the Final Document of the Tenth Special Session of the General Assembly, the first special session devoted to disarmament (resolution S-10/2). Weapons of mass destruction, in particular nuclear weapons, continue to be of primary concern owing to their destructive power and the threat that they pose to humanity. The Office also works to address the humanitarian impact of major conventional weapons and emerging weapon technologies, such as autonomous weapons, as these issues have received increased attention from the international community.
UNODA provides substantive and organizational support for norm-setting in the area of disarmament through the work of the General Assembly and its First Committee, the Disarmament Commission, the Conference on Disarmament and other bodies. It fosters disarmament measures through dialogue, transparency and confidence-building on military matters, and encourages regional disarmament efforts; these include the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms and regional forums.
It also provides objective, impartial and up-to-date information on multilateral disarmament issues and activities to Member States, States parties to multilateral agreements, intergovernmental organizations and institutions, departments and agencies of the United Nations system, research and educational institutions, civil society, especially non-governmental organizations, the media and the general public.
UNODA supports the development and implementation of practical disarmament measures after a conflict, such as disarming and demobilizing former combatants and helping them to reintegrate in civil society.