IN THIS ISSUE

Secretary-General addresses the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva
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Russia and China put forward draft treaty banning weapons in outer space
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“Oslo Process” nations meet in New Zealand to consider Cluster Bomb Ban
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Workshop in Botswana on implementing Security Council resolution 1540
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Group of Governmental experts starts exploring a possible Arms Trade Treaty
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UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs speaks at the OAS on nuclear weapons issues
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International Women’s Day and Disarmament
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Barbados, Malaysia and Colombia ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty
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Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters meets in New York

Secretary-General addresses the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva

UN SG Ban Ki-moon

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (centre). Samir Labidi (left) Permanent Representative of Tunisia and President of the Conference on Disarmament; and Sergei Ordzhonikidze, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva and Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament.

Palais des Nations - Geneva

Palais des Nations, Geneva

The Conference on Disarmament (CD), established in 1979 as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community, was a result of the first Special Session on Disarmament of the United Nations General Assembly held in 1978. The CD and its predecessors have negotiated such major multilateral arms limitation and disarmament agreements as the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the Biological Weapons Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.  However, recently there has been little progress on the items on its agenda and there is a risk that a continued stalemate would put at risk the viability of the CD.  To mark his concern at the CD’s impasse, the Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, attended the opening of the 2008 session of the CD on 23 January in Geneva and made a firm statement to the Members.  The Secretary-General renewed his call to countries to move forward in a spirit of compromise to improve the global security climate, calling on “foreign ministers and other political leaders to come to the Conference on Disarmament” and “forge a fresh consensus on future projects”. “Concerted disarmament will forestall arms races,” he pointed out. “This, in turn, will free up resources – which would have been diverted to armaments – that can be used to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, the eight global targets to eliminate poverty and other ills by 2015. [Top>>]

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Russia and China put forward draft treaty banning weapons in outer space

Lavrov

Ambassador LI Baodong (China), Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (Russia) in Geneva, 12 February

Outerspace

On 12 February at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva the delegations of Russia and China submitted a joint draft proposal for an international treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space (PPWT).  In introducing the draft, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov noted that the draft took into account the proposals made by Member States of the Conference in the course of their joint work on elements for a space treaty that were submitted earlier to the CD by his country and China and discussed in Geneva over more than five years.  He added that Russia and China were submitting the draft treaty with a research mandate.  Lavrov hoped that subsequently, when the appropriate conditions were met, the work of the CD could be channeled into a negotiating format with the establishment of a relevant ad hoc committee of the Conference.  In a message to the Conference, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said that a peaceful and tranquil outer space free from weaponization and an arms race served the common interests of all countries.  It was therefore necessary for the international community to formulate new legal instruments to strengthen the current legal regime on outer space.

As presented, the draft PPW Treaty would:

  1. prohibit the deployment of weapons of any kind in space and the use or threat of force against space objects;
  2. eliminate existing lacunas in international space law, create conditions for further exploration and use of space, preserve costly space property, and strengthen general security and arms control. [Top>>]

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“Oslo Process” nations meet in New Zealand to consider Cluster Bomb Ban

Wellington

Wellington Town Hall and Fowler Centre (image courtesy of the Wellington City Council)

bomblets

The fourth major international conference on cluster munitions took place in Wellington, New Zealand from 18 to 22 February.  The one-week conference was attended by officials from 103 countries and sought to pursue an enduring solution to the grave humanitarian consequences caused by the use of cluster munitions.  A draft treaty text was introduced by Ireland and eighty-two of the countries present at the meeting signed the ‘Wellington Declaration’, as a step towards an international treaty on cluster munitions.  It is expected that more signatures will follow from those countries present but not ready to sign during the Wellington meeting.  The meeting also made progress towards agreement on issues such as the destruction of cluster munitions stockpiles, clearance of contaminated areas and assistance for victims.  The conference was part of the so-called Oslo Process that was launched in February 2007 when a group of like-minded states agreed to try and conclude a cluster munitions treaty during 2008.  The Oslo Process comes ten years after the successful 1997 treaty banning anti-personnel landmines.  The Wellington conference built on the work of the prior international conferences in Oslo, Lima, and Vienna.  The next stage of the process will be a diplomatic conference in Dublin, Ireland, from 19 to 30 May to finalize the new treaty. [Top>>]

See also: Wellington Conference website | Wellington Declaration | Dublin Conference website

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Workshop in Botswana on implementing Security Council resolution 1540

Security Council in session

Representatives from 36 nations, including 16 African nations, met in Gaborone, Botswana on 27 and 28 November 2007 to address the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1540 in Africa (the second such meeting in Africa since the adoption of the resolution).  The Government of Botswana hosted the meeting, which was organized by UNODA and sponsored by the Governments of Andorra, Norway, and the United States, with participation of representatives from the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.  The meeting promoted resolution 1540 implementation by African nations and encouraged countries to submit national reports.  As a result of the meeting, participants from African countries agreed to develop plans of action and priorities for 1540 implementation.

UN Security Council resolution 1540 was adopted in April 2004, and obliges all States to refrain from supporting by any means non-State actors from developing, acquiring, manufacturing, possessing, transporting, transferring or using nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their delivery systems.  It also imposes binding obligations on all States to establish domestic controls to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and their means of delivery, including by establishing appropriate controls over related materials.  It also encourages enhanced international cooperation on such efforts, in accord with and promoting universal adherence to existing international non-proliferation treaties.

To assist in implementation of the resolution the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs launched a redesigned website of the 1540 Committee in December.  The upgraded design of the website offers new elements and useful links, which should facilitate ease of navigation and greater interaction with the public.  Users will be able to find current and informative content on the work of the 1540 Committee. [Top>>]

See also: 1540 Committee website | UNREC website

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Group of Governmental experts starts exploring a possible Arms Trade Treaty

ShipMissileDestroying gunsF22 plane

Irresponsible or illegal arms transfers continue to exacerbate conflict, crime and the displacement of people as well as contributing to violations of human rights and humanitarian law and the undermining of peace, security, stability and sustainable development.  There has been growing international support from across all regions for the negotiation of a treaty on common international standards on the import, export and transfer of all conventional arms.  Following the UN General Assembly’s 2006 adoption of a resolution by an overwhelming majority, (A/Res/61/89), Member States submitted views on the feasibility, scope and parameters of such a treaty in record numbers.  Those views were to inform the work of a Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) appointed by the Secretary-General.  In addition, the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) has produced both an analysis of States’ views on an ATT and a report on the implications of those States’ views with the aim of helping governments, non-governmental organization's and academics understand why and how discussions on an ATT have evolved, what the central issues and obstacles are, and what its scope could look like.

The GGE assembled at the United Nations headquarters in New York from 11 to 15 February 2008 for its first exchange of views.  The five day session brought together experts from 28 countries, including the five permanent members of the Security Council and other major arms exporters.  The meeting was chaired by Ambassador Roberto García Moritán, Secretary of Foreign Affairs at the Foreign Ministry of Argentina.  The Group, which will hold its second and third sessions in New York from 12 to 16 May and from 28 July to 8 August, is expected to produce a report for the General Assembly’s next session. [Top>>]

See also: Towards an Arms Trade Treaty | UNIDIR reports: Analysis, Implications

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UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs speaks at the OAS on nuclear weapons issues

Duarte-OAS

OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza meets with the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Sergio Duarte

OAS building

OAS HQ, Washington, DC

At the invitation of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States Committee on Hemispheric Security, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Sergio Duarte, traveled to Washington DC on 7 February 2008 and gave a presentation to members on “The Consolidation of the Regime Established by the Treaty of Tlatelolco and to Promote the Full Force and Effect of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)”. 

The Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, also known as the Treaty of Tlatelolco, was created to ensure the absence of nuclear weapons in the region.  Entering into force in April 1969, the Treaty now has 33 states Parties, all the states of Latin America and the Caribbean.  Mr. Duarte noted that the Treaty not only established the world’s first nuclear-weapon-free zone in a populated area, but had offered a model that had inspired the creation of similar zones in four additional regions – the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, Africa and Central Asia.  Mr. Duarte also noted that the Treaty of Tlatelolco and CTBT represented significant steps in rejecting nuclear weapons and in seeking the total elimination of nuclear arsenals.  The ratification of the CTBT by several Latin American and Caribbean States in the past few months had succeeded in raising expectations that the few remaining countries in the region that are still not parties to the Treaty would soon follow suit.  Mr. Duarte added that further cooperation between the CTBTO’s Provisional Technical Secretariat and the UN’s Lima Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean throughout 2008 would advance the country signature/ratification strategy aimed at region-wide adherence. [Top>>]

See also: OAS website | High Representative's Speech | UN-LiREC website | OPANAL website | CTBTO website

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International Women’s Day and Disarmament

International Women's Day

UN-Women-logoUN-Women-logoUN-Women-logo

International Women’s day was marked in New York and Geneva by a number of events including a day-long disarmament seminar in Geneva on the topic “At what cost? Resolution 1325 ,[1] Wars, Weapons & Conflict”.  Organized by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom [2] (WILPF), the seminar held on 5 March 2008 was attended by more than 100 NGO representatives from around the world.  Addressing the meeting, Mr. Tim Caughley, the Director of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs in Geneva, noted that historically women have been marginalized and their perspectives underrepresented in the security field and that more needed to be done to fully integrate women and gender perspectives into all aspects of security and disarmament work round the globe.  “The world could never achieve lasting peace and security while it continued to tie one of its own hands behind its back”, he said.  

As has been done for more than 20 years running, the Conference on Disarmament heard a statement by the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security on the occasion of International Women’s Day, the only intervention by NGOs that has been allowed in a plenary setting.

In New York, the Office for Disarmament Affairs teamed up with the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) to sponsor a lunchtime panel discussion on 3 March 2008 focused on The Impact of Arms on Women’s Lives. Speakers included Professor Wendy Cukier of Ryerson University in Canada, Maria Pia Devoto of the Asociación para Políticas Públicas, Argentina; Marie Claire Ruhamya, Solidarity of Women of Burhale (SOFEBU), Eastern DRC; Binalakshmi Nepram - Control Arms Foundation, India, Widad Akrawi, Defend International, Iraq/Denmark and Daniël Prins, Chief, Conventional Arms Branch of UNODA. [Top>>]

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[1] On Women and Peace and Security.

[2] Since 1984, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) has worked with other NGOs to organize a seminar linking 8 March – International Women’s Day – with disarmament and security issues. 

See also: SC resolution 1325 | International Women’s Day website | Gender and Disarmament | IANSA website

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Barbados, Malaysia and Colombia ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty

Araujo, Insulza, Toth

From left to right, Colombia Minister of Foreign Affairs Fernando Araujo, Secretary General of the Organization of American States Jose Miguel Insulza, and CTBTO Executive Secretary Tibor Toth.

CTBTO Logo

In January 2008, Barbados, Malaysia and Colombia all ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) bringing the number of States Parties to 144.

The ratifications of Barbados and Colombia brings the number of members from Latin America and the Caribbean to 29 out of 33.

On 29 January 2008 Colombia ratified the Treaty and became the 35th out of 44 nations named in the Treaty that are required to join for it to enter into force.  As Depositary of the CTBT, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement officially welcoming Colombia to the Treaty.  The Permanent Representative of the Republic of Colombia to the CTBTO, Jose Serrano Cadena, marked the occasion by encouraging all of Latin America and the Caribbean to become “A complete CTBT continent.”  Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago have yet to join.

Malaysia’s ratification of the CTBT on 17 January 2008 is a step forward for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as it is the sixth out of ten regional countries to ratify the Treaty, creating a majority within the ASEAN group. 

Malaysia and Colombia have a radionuclide and primary seismic station, respectively, which are part of a global alarm system to monitor CTBT compliance.  Elsewhere in the world, of the 44 States that are required to join for the Treaty to enter into force, China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Indonesia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Israel, Pakistan, and the United States of America have still to sign or ratify. [Top>>]

See also: Secretary-General's statement | CTBTO website

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Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters meets in New York

SG's Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters

UN building

The 49th session of the Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters recently concluded its three-day winter session in New York.  Opening the session, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Sergio Duarte, welcomed eight new members and congratulated Professor Adam Rotfeld upon his appointment as Chairperson for 2008.  He noted that the field of multilateral disarmament had witnessed too many setbacks in recent years and that this was why the need to strengthen the role of the UN disarmament machinery, including the Advisory Board, had become more pressing.  In 2008, the Board has before it three items to consider, i) Issues of Energy Security and the environment in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation; ii) “The Hoover Plan” for nuclear disarmament: multilateralism and the UN Dimension; and iii) Emerging weapons technologies, including outer space aspects.  The Secretary-General joined his Advisory Board for part of their deliberations.

Background. The Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters was established in 1978 by a decision of the Tenth Special Session of the General Assembly 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.  It also serves as the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR).  The Secretary-General chooses the members of the Board from all regions of the world for their knowledge and experience in the field of disarmament and international security.  There are eighteen members in 2008 (link to list).  The Advisory Board holds two sessions a year, alternating between New York and Geneva.  [Top>>]

See also: Advisory Board page | High Representative's remarks

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