IN THIS ISSUE

Small Arms meeting agrees on way forward
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SG highlights the urgent need to make further progress on multilateral nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation at OPANAL Special Session
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SG welcomes the opening of the new the office of the Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Nepal
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Missile Panel concludes its work with agreement on a report for the GA
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SG expresses determination to work to achieve a peaceful and secure world without nuclear weapons in his message to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony
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Government Experts hold their final session in New York to discuss a possible Arms Trade Treaty
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SG’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters meets for 50th session
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Group of governmental experts on ammunition stockpiles completes third and final session

Small Arms meeting agrees on way forward

weapons

UN Member States gathered in New York from 14 to 18 July to review the implementation of the Programme of Action (PoA) to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects. This was the third Biennial Meeting of States (BMS) since the adoption of the PoA in 2001. The BMS was chaired by Ambassador Dalius Čekuolis of Lithuania.

The four themes covered by the meeting were:

• International cooperation, assistance and capacity-building,

• Stockpile management and surplus disposal,

• Illicit brokering in small arms and light weapons

• Other Issues of relevance to the implementation of the PoA

States also reviewed progress in the implementation of the International Instrument to Enable States to Identify and Trace, in a Timely and Reliable Manner, Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons, which had been adopted by the General Assembly in 2005. Through a recorded vote of 134 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (Iran and Zimbabwe), the BMS adopted a substantive Outcome Document (which previous BMS sessions and its 2006 Review Conference had failed to do). The Outcome document includes “the way forward” in each of the four areas examined by the meeting.

During the meeting, the PoA Implementation Support System (PoA-ISS) was launched by the Office for Disarmament Affairs. The PoA-ISS serves as the secure "one-stop shop" for anyone working on small arms in the UN context. This easy-to-access web-based system provides the essential set of tools for States, international and regional organizations as well as civil society, helping them to implement the PoA. It brings together all basic documentation (e.g. PoA reporting), value-added information (e.g. best practices, advisory network for national contact points and other stakeholders) and clearing-house functions (e.g. project proposals, contact point lists).

The PoA establishes a global framework for curbing the illicit trade in small arms. It contains substantial agreed norms and programmes on several issues, including preventing and combating the illicit production and trafficking of small arms and light weapons; ensuring effective controls of the legal production of those weapons; their holding and transfer; weapons collection and destruction; and the control of those arms in post-conflict situations. [Top>>]

See also: Outcome Document | PoA-ISS website3

Secretary-General highlights the urgent need to make further progress on multilateral nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation at OPANAL Special Session

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Photo courtesy of OPANAL

On 4 August in Mexico City the Secretary-General addressed an Extraordinary Session of OPANAL, the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (which oversees the implementation of the Treaty of Tlatelolco establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Latin America and the Caribbean).

In his speech, the Secretary-General noted that the Tlatelolco Treaty established the world’s first nuclear-weapon-free zone in a populated area and had inspired similar zones in the South Pacific, South-East Asia, Africa and Central Asia. While two thirds of the world’s States are signatories to nuclear-weapon–free zone treaties, the majority of the world’s population still lives in countries that possess nuclear weapons. There was much work to be done before the shared goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world could be achieved in respect of the negotiation of a fissile material treaty. The Secretary-General urged greater political support for the work of the Conference on Disarmament to forestall the expansion of existing nuclear arsenals.

He also noted that today, countries around the world spend some $1.3 trillion on militaries and on arms and that significant progress towards the Millennium Development Goals could be achieved if some of these resources were redirected to economic and social development efforts. At a time of soaring food and fuel prices and global economic uncertainty, the world cannot afford to ignore the development potential of disarmament and non-proliferation.

The Zone of application of the Treaty includes the entire Latin American and Caribbean region as well as large portions of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. All 33 States in the region of Latin America and the Caribbean have signed and ratified the Treaty. [Top>>]

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The Secretary-General welcomes the opening of the new the office of the United Nations Asia-Pacific Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Nepal

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Mr. Subas Nembang, Chairman of the Constituent Assembly of Nepal, and Mr. Vijay Nambiar, Chef de Cabinet of the UN Secretary-General at the opening ceremony

A ceremony marking the opening of the new office in Nepal of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific was held in Kathmandu on 18 August 2008. The ceremony was attended by Mr. Subas Nembang, Chairman of the Constituent Assembly of Nepal, Mr. Vijay Nambiar, Chef de Cabinet of the UN Secretary-General, and other senior government officials of Nepal, members of the diplomatic corps, as well as representatives from regional organizations, civil society and the media.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent a congratulatory message which was delivered by Mr. Nambiar. In his message, the Secretary-General praised the Regional Centre for its role in promoting openness, transparency and confidence-building, and for providing an arena for dialogue on regional security concerns on issues such as the danger of the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the trafficking in illicit small arms and light weapons, the hazards of landmines and explosive remnants of war, the costs of armed conflicts, and the rise of organized crime and terrorism in the region.

He called on all states of the Asia-Pacific region to work closely with the Regional Centre in strengthening the capacity of governments and civil society to achieve disarmament goals. He stressed that, in addition to promoting dialogue and confidence-building initiatives, the Regional Center stands ready to assist States, upon request, in undertaking practical disarmament measures and implementing legal obligations under disarmament-related treaties.

The Regional Centre was established by the General Assembly in 1987 to provide, on request, substantive support for peace and disarmament activities agreed upon by the Member States in the Asia-Pacific region. It undertakes disarmament and security related projects and plays an important role to encourage regional and subregional dialogue and cooperation among States in the region.

The Regional Centre covers 43 countries in the region and relie on voluntary contributions from donors for its operations and activities. Formerly headquartered in New York, it was relocated to Kathmandu, Nepal in July 2008 after the United Nations and the Government of Nepal signed a Host Country Agreement and a Memorandum of Understanding in July 2007 on the relocation. [Top>>]

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Missile Panel concludes its work with agreement on a report for the General Assembly

missilesrocketsmissile launch

Photos courtesy of DefenseImagery.mil

The Panel of Governmental Experts on the issue of missiles in all its aspects held its third and final session at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 2 to 6 June 2008. Chaired by Santiago Irazábal Mourão the panel consisted of 23 experts from Member States. The final session was marked by comprehensive, constructive and in-depth discussions. While significant differences of opinion remained on a number of issues identified at earlier sessions, the Panel was able to agree on a consensus report. Divergent views and the complexity of the issue also led the Panel to conclude that continued international efforts are important to deal with the issue of missiles. The Panel also recognized the important role of the United Nations in providing a more structured and effective mechanism to build on areas of consensus.

A previous missile panel meeting in 2004 had failed to agree on a report. Since the publication of the report of the first panel in 2002 (A/57/229), missiles of different types have been developed, have undergone technological improvements and some have been modernized. Thus the General Assembly decided in December 2004 that the issue be revisited by a new panel. General Assembly resolution (A/59/67) requested the Secretary-General, with the assistance of a Panel of Governmental Experts to explore further ways and means to address within the United Nations the issue of missiles in all its aspects, including identifying areas where consensus could be reached, and to submit a report for consideration by the General Assembly at its sixty-third session. The consensus report of the third panel will be forwarded to the General Assembly in September. [Top>>]

See also: Missile page

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Secretary-General expresses his determination to work to achieve a peaceful and secure world without nuclear weapons in his message to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony

Hall of Remembrance

The Hall of Remembrance in the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims in Hiroshima, Japan

In his message to the 63rd annual Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony held on 6 August and delivered by the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, the Secretary-General said that the global awareness of the need for progress in nuclear disarmament was stronger now than it has been in many years. The support was broad-based, spanning the entire world and a variety of groups. Educators, religious leaders, current and former Government officials, non-governmental groups, journalists, mayors, legislators and countless individuals were not just advocating disarmament by words alone; they were actively working to achieve this goal.

He also paid tribute to the leadership of the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, whose efforts through Mayors for Peace have gained recognition and respect throughout the world. As the world’s population was now predominantly urban, for the first time ever, mayors everywhere had a natural interest in ensuring that nuclear weapons are never used again.

Mayors for Peace are promoting a programme for the elimination of nuclear weapons by the year 2020. The Mayors for Peace is composed of cities around the world that have formally expressed support for the programme to abolish nuclear weapons. As of August 1, 2008, membership stood at 2,368 cities in 131 countries and regions. [Top>>]

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Government Experts hold their final session in New York to discuss a possible Arms Trade Treaty

Arms Trade Treaty logo

The Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) to examine the feasibility, scope and draft parameters for a comprehensive, legally binding instrument establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms, held its third and final session in New York from 28 July to 8 August.

The GGE noted that there are different motivations for conventional arms production and acquisition, and that the weapons being traded in the illicit market most often start out as legally traded weapons. In light of the complexity of the issues inherent in the conventional arms transfers, the Group concluded that further consideration was required and that such efforts should be carried out, on a step-by-step basis, in an open and transparent manner, within the framework of the United Nations.

The Group, which held its first and second sessions in February and May 2008, was established by the Secretary-General pursuant to resolution 61/89 of 6 December 2006. It had experts from 28 Member States: Algeria; Argentina; Australia; Brazil; China; Colombia; Costa Rica; Cuba; Egypt; Finland; France; Germany; India; Indonesia; Italy; Japan; Kenya; Mexico; Nigeria; Pakistan; Romania; Russian Federation; South Africa; Spain; Switzerland; Ukraine; United Kingdom; and the United States. Ambassador Roberto García Moritán, former Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Argentina, chaired the Group.

The Group’s work was informed by, among other things, the report of the Secretary-General containing a record number of Member States’ views on the issue. The GGE also benefited from two studies published by the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR). One focused on an “Analysis of States’ Views on an Arms Trade Treaty” and the other on “Implications of States’ Views on Arms Trade Treaty”.

The Group submitted its consensus report to the Secretary-General and it will be before the UN General Assembly for consideration at its sixty-third session, later this year. [Top>>]

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Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters meets for 50th session

UN Office at Geneva

Palais des Nations, Geneva

The Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters met for its 50th Session in Geneva, from 9 to 11 July 2008. The High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Mr. Sergio Duarte, made opening remarks to the Board on developments in the area of multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation since the Board’s session in February. Chaired by Professor Adam Daniel Rotfeld of Poland, during this session, the Board continued its discussions on the three substantive agenda items it considered during its winter session in New York, namely: 1) Issues of energy security and environment in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation; 2) The ‘Hoover Plan’ for nuclear disarmament: multilateralism and the UN dimension; and 3) Emerging weapons technologies, including outer space aspects. The Advisory Board heard a presentation from Mr. Rolf Ekéus, Chairman of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) an invited expert on the second agenda item. It also received briefings from two representatives from non-governmental organizations, Ms. Xanthe Hall (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Germany) and Dr. Jürgen Altmann (Technische Universität Dortmund) on “Nuclear power versus sustainable energy security and nuclear disarmament” and “Potential Weapons Applications of Revolutionary Technologies”, respectively.

Sitting also as the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Institute on Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), the Board was briefed by the Director of UNIDIR on its activities and approved the submission of UNIDIR’s annual report to the General Assembly. The Board paid tribute to the decade of dedicated contributions of UNIDIR’s outgoing Director, Dr. Patricia Lewis, wishing her well in her new position at the James Martin Center for Non-proliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. The Board also exchanged views on several possible topics for its next sessions in 2009.

The Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters was established in 1978 to advise the Secretary-General on matters within the area of arms limitation and disarmament, including on studies and research under the auspices of the United Nations or institutions within the United Nations system; to serve as the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR); and to advise the Secretary-General on the implementation of the United Nations Disarmament Information Programme. Members of the Board are appointed by the Secretary-General on the basis of their expertise in the field of disarmament and/or the wider field of international security, taking into account the principle of equitable geographical representation.

The Chairman of the Board submits a private report to the Secretary-General on the work of each session. The Secretary-General submits an annual report on the work of the Board to the General Assembly. [Top>>]

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Group of governmental experts on ammunition stockpiles completes third and final session

ammunition

The third meeting of the group of governmental experts examining the issue of f\conventional ammunition stockpiles in surplus, took place in New York from 7 to 11 July. This was the last of three week-long sessions that the 17 member group appointed by the Secretary-General had. Chaired by Michael Hasenau of Germany, the group unanimously adopted a report which will be forwarded to the General Assembly for its September 2008 session.

The report of the group emphasizes that poorly managed conventional ammunition stockpiles threaten public safety and pose a risk to the security of States. The report contains a set of recommendations and conclusions that emphasize the need for greater international cooperation and assistance for capacity building in addressing the problem of the accumulation of conventional ammunition stockpiles in surplus.

By its resolution 61/72 of 6 December 2006, the General Assembly had requested the Secretary-General to establish a group of governmental experts, no later than 2008, to consider further steps to enhance cooperation with regard to the issue of conventional ammunition stockpiles in surplus, and to transmit the report of the group of experts to the General Assembly for consideration at its sixty-third session. [Top>>]

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