Press Release

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Committee

23rd Meeting (AM)



As the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) concluded its consideration of draft texts this morning, the Chairman withdrew his draft resolution reaffirming the value of multilateralism in disarmament and non-proliferation negotiations.

Explaining the withdrawal of that revised text, Chairman Matia Mulumba Semakula Kiwanuka (Uganda) said he had striven to present a draft based on widespread consensus.  Despite extensive consultations, however, two delegations had presented an amendment that would have been unacceptable to a large cross-section of the Committee.  Moreover, once the amendment was submitted, it had become clear that the probable intention was not to reach consensus, he said.

(The Committee had received four versions of the draft, with changes focused primarily on the concept of multilateralism.  For details of those texts, see documents A/C.1/57/L.26, and Rev.1, 2, and 3.  The amendment is contained in document A/C.1/57/L.60.)

Taking the floor to explain the submission of the amendment, the Cuban representative said the draft had undergone a "very bumpy and tumultuous road".  For some, the exercise could have followed a less tortuous path, if there had been open, transparent and full consultations from the outset.  He deplored the fact that, despite four versions of the draft, consensus had remained elusive.  The Chairman had been asked to avoid a reference to multilateralism, because consultations among members of the Non-Aligned Movement had revealed strong differences of opinion on that question.

Similarly, the representative of Iran, the amendment's other co-sponsor, said the draft traditionally put forth by the Chairman had always been a good way to reflect consensus among delegates.  This year, however, clear hurdles had made its approval difficult.  The third revision was not focused enough.  Additionally, its title, "Disarmament, non-proliferation and international peace and security", was too general.  Consensus was elusive over language on multilateralism.

Many delegates thanked the Chairman for his hard work and patience.  The representative of Canada said that not every session had to conclude with the approval of a Chairman’s text and the inability to do so this year was not a failure, especially in the face of such fundamentally different viewpoints.  His delegation would have been willing to bend a little to work towards consensus.  One problem he had with the proposed amendment, however, was its references to multilateralism.  He simply could not accept the implication that it was the only core principle in disarmament-related negotiations.

Statements were also made by the representatives of India, Israel, Denmark (on behalf of the European Union), South Africa (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Bangladesh, Ghana and Kuwait.

The Committee (Disarmament and International Security) will meet again at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 29 October, to consider the question of Antarctica.

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