UNODA UPDATE (November 2007)



First Committee concludes 62nd session

 

United Nations flags

The United Nations General Assembly First Committee dealing with Disarmament and International Security held its annual four-week session in New York from 8 October to 2 November 2007. Over the course of the meetings, 142 delegates spoke, and 52 draft texts were approved and forwarded to the General Assembly. In a statement to the Committee delivered on 8 October, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs noted that as in the past, many of the world’s deepest insecurities arise from threats posed by weapons of mass destruction. This was not surprising, since the very existence of nuclear, biological, and chemical arms entails threats or risks of use.

New resolutions concerning the South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone and a call for decreasing the operational readiness of nuclear weapons systems were introduced. In addition a new resolution on the effects of the use of armaments and ammunition containing depleted uranium was adopted which calls for Member States and relevant international organizations to submit their views to the next General Assembly.

During the thematic debate, the Committee heard briefings from the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, the Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) and representatives of international intergovernmental organizations in the disarmament field (IAEA, OPCW, CTBTO-Preparatory Commission), from chairpersons of groups of governmental experts (on illicit brokering of small arms and light weapons and on verification), and the president of the CD, chairpersons of the UN Disarmament Commission, Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, the Open-ended working group on SSOD IV and of the Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters as well as the Director of the UNIDIR. The Committee also continued its practice begun two years ago of devoting time during the thematic debate to hearing the views of civil society; this year on the issues of nuclear weapons, outer space, illicit small arms and the arms trade treaty process. At the conclusion of its work, the Chairman of the Committee noted that differences persisted in the Committee, especially on issues related to nuclear weapons, but he had appreciated the “positive and constructive” tone of the deliberations. The General Assembly is expected to take up the report of the First Committee on the afternoon of 5 December.

First Committee
website
High Representative's
speech
to First Committee
General Assembly
resolutions database

Annual Session of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)

 

OPCW workers

OPCW inspectors at work

The 12th Conference of States Parties to the CWC convened in The Hague from 5 to 9 November 2007. This year, 116 of the 182 States Parties to the Convention attended. In his opening statement, the Director-General of the OPCW reported on the status of the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, and touched on a number of issues, including the status of destruction of declared chemical weapons by possessor States Parties, national implementation and universality of the Convention. In a message to the Conference, the UN Secretary-General noted that several key actors remain outside the Convention’s framework. Their adherence to the Convention is critical to the success of this multilateral disarmament treaty and urged all Governments that have not yet done so to ratify or accede to the Convention without delay and also called upon all possessor States to complete the destruction of their stockpiles within already established deadlines.

OPCW website Secretary-General's message at CWC meeting

UN holds High-Level Meeting to mark the 10th anniversary of entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention

 

Special event

UN special event to mark 10th anniversary of entry into force of Chemical Weapons Convention

This years CWC Conference of States Parties took place against the backdrop of the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the Convention. In addition to a number of events in UN Member States, a High-Level Meeting to commemorate the anniversary was held in New York on 27 September. Both the UN Secretary-General and the Director-General of OPCW addressed the meeting. Over forty Foreign Ministers attended the Meeting which reaffirmed the international community’s strong commitment to multilateralism and to the goals of the CWC.

CWC 10th anniversary page Secretary-General's address
at special event

Geneva Conference considers new action on Cluster Munitions

 

Victims

Marche Silencieuse – Silent March”.  
Display outside the Palais des Nations, Geneva.
“I’m one of the 3,537 children known to have been
killed or mutilated by a cluster munition. The real
number of victims is assumed to be much larger.”
(photo courtesy of Julian Gomez Villegas)

The High Contracting Parties to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (CCW) – sometimes known as the Inhumane Weapons Convention – met in Geneva from 7-13 November. In a message to the Conference, the UN Secretary-General noted that the atrocious, inhumane impact of cluster munitions required urgent action and urged conference participants to address the horrendous humanitarian, human rights and developmental effects of cluster munitions by concluding a legally binding instrument of international humanitarian law. Until such a legal instrument is adopted, he asked that Parties take domestic measures to immediately freeze the use and transfer of all cluster munitions.

cluster bomb

Cluster container with bomblets

At the close of the meeting, the Parties decided that the GGE would negotiate a proposal to address urgently the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions, while striking a balance between military and humanitarian considerations. According to the mandate given to the group, the GGE should make every effort to negotiate this proposal as rapidly as possible and report on progress made to the next meeting in November 2008.

Secretary-General's
message
to Conference
Geneva Disarmament
website

Eighth Meeting of States Parties to Mine Ban Convention takes Place in Jordan

 

UNMAC mine victim

Landmine victim

landmine

Landmine

The 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer or Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction is the international agreement that bans anti-personnel landmines. It is often referred to as the Ottawa Convention or the Mine Ban Convention. Following an offer made by the Government of Jordan the Eighth Meeting of the States Parties (8MSP) took place during the week of 18-22 November 2007 at the Dead Sea. In a message to the meeting participants, noting the tenth anniversary of the entry into force of the Convention, the UN Secretary-General said that Landmines have no place in the world and applauded the international commitment to their elimination. He noted that the production, sale and transfer of anti-personnel mines had decreased drastically and urged all States that had not yet done so to accede, as soon as possible to the Convention.

Website of the Jordan Mine Ban Meeting Secretary-General's message at meeting

West African Regional workshop on practical disarmament and peace-building

 

Lome

West African civil society organizations participate in Training of Trainers workshop in practical disarmament and peacebuilding

Within the framework of the project entitled Capacity Building on Practical Disarmament and Peace-building in West Africa (CAPPA), the UN Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC) ran a training of trainers workshop on practical disarmament and peace-building from 12-15 November in Lomé, Togo. The objectives of this training workshop were: a) to provide civil society organizations (CSOs) with modern techniques and tools for the effective control of small arms and light weapons (SALW) and peace-building; b) to raise awareness within civil society organizations on the crises and conflicts in West Africa and the best methods for the peaceful resolution of conflict; c) to develop a common partnership formula in the subregion aimed at eradicating and combating the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons. About forty trainees selected from CSOs within the 16 countries of the subregion participated in the workshop. This workshop was designed to equip West African civil society organizations with conceptual, technical and methodological tools to enable them to complement the efforts of governments to ensure a more peaceful environment for socio-economic development in West Africa. At the conclusion of the meeting participants indicated that they had benefited extensively from the programme and hoped that the programme would become an annual event in West Africa.

UNREC website

 

19th UN Conference on Disarmament Issues in Sapporo focuses on Nuclear Issues

 

Sapporo Convention

Participants at Sapporo Conference

The Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs organized the 19th UN Conference on Disarmament Issues which took place in Sapporo, Japan from 27 to 29 August 2007. This year’s theme was “New Vision and Required Leadership towards a World free from Nuclear Weapons”. Opening the conference, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Mr. Sergio Duarte, noted that support for disarmament – especially the elimination of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction – remained strong amongst people throughout the world. Yet, he added, much work remained to be done at all levels of society, from individual citizens, through the smallest local governments to the largest universal organization, the United Nations. Participants had in-depth discussions on nuclear proliferation risks with particular attention to existing nuclear black markets, the prevention of nuclear terrorism and actions to be taken in the event that non-state actors acquire weapons of mass destruction. During the course of discussions the participants agreed that new vision and leadership from their highest level of governments were required to overcome the current setbacks or stagnation being experienced in the field of disarmament. A special session was devoted to celebrate the tenth anniversary of entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention with an opening address from OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter. The Conference was financed from voluntary contributions made to the regional Center by the Government of Japan, the Hokkaido Prefecture and the City of Sapporo.

High Representative's speech at Conference
OPCW Director-General's address

Headway made in Armed Violence Prevention Programme in Costa Rica

 

programme participants

Participants in recent Armed Violence Prevention Programme

After a series of stakeholder consultations, a joint Government-UN project entitled Integral Approach to Armed Violence as a Public Health Problem is now well under way in Costa Rica. The UN component is supported by United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UN-LiREC) with its headquarters in Lima, Peru. This one-year Project coincides with the national priorities of the Government of Costa Rica and contributes directly to the country’s National Plan for violence prevention and promotion of social peace 2007-2010. During a recent UN-LiREC mission to Costa Rica the four cantons where local disarmament and development initiatives are to be implemented were selected and an agreement was concluded on the construction of training facilities for subregional and regional training courses aimed at the law enforcement community. The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) funded project is now in its first phase of execution. While originally designed only to last for two years, it has now been modified to match the Government’s long-term violence prevention and development plans. Costa Rica is part of a growing number of countries in the region that are adopting integrated and long-term approaches to violence prevention. UN-LiREC and its partners are committed to its successful implementation.

UN-LiREC website

New Website on Disarmament and Non-proliferation Education

disarmament education website and UN Cyberschoolbus

On Monday 15 October, the Office of Disarmament Affairs and Department of Public Information launched a new education website devoted to Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Education. It is a part of the UN Cyberschoolbus website project which was created in 1996 as the online education component of the Global Teaching and Learning Project whose mission is to promote education from kindergarten to grade 12 (K-12) or the equivalent about the United Nations and international issues on its agenda (www.un.org/cyberschoolbus/index.asp). The teaching material initially focuses on the issues of nuclear disarmament, small arms and light weapons, landmines and child soldiers. It provides a host of education activities and curriculum for the use of teachers in the classroom or by students for independent studies.

Link to Disarmament Education website