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Secretary-General welcomes Conference on Disarmament’s adoption of Work Programme
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Third session of the Preparatory Committee for 2010Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference successfully concludes with adoption of consensus report
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Secretary-General welcomes entry into force of Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone
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United Nations Disarmament Commission holds annual session
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Disarmament and non-proliferation are linked inextricably to development, human rights and peace, Secretary-General tells his Advisory Board
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Event at UN HQ to encourage the early entry into force of the Cluster Munitions Convention
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UN Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa meets in Gabon
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Workshops in Qatar and Vanuatu on Implementing Security Council Resolution 1540

Secretary-General welcomes Conference on Disarmament’s adoption of Work Programme

Palais des Nations, Geneva
Palais des Nations, Geneva

On 29 May, under the Presidency of Ambasador Idriss Jazaïry of Algeria, the Conference on Disarmament adopted by consensus document CD/1863, which contains a Programme of Work for 2009. This action has successfully ended over ten years of efforts to resume the substantive work of the Conference, which came to a halt in 1999.

In New York, a statement by the Spokesperson of the Secretary-General said that the Secretary-General welcomed the adoption of the Decision by the Conference on Disarmament to establish a Programme of Work for its 2009 session, particularly following his address to the members the previous week, when he had underscored their special responsibility to demonstrate the Conference's essential role as the main pillar of disarmament and non-proliferation. For the first time in more than a decade, the single multilateral disarmament negotiating body could now engage in negotiations and substantive discussions on strategic disarmament and non-proliferation issues.

In his address to the CD on 19 May, the Secretary-General had also told the members that business as usual should not prevail. It was time to break more than 10 years of stalemate. The Conference had before it a document that could achieve consensus and that addresses all substantive and procedural issues.

The Programme of Work now adopted provides for the establishment of four Working Groups: (1) to negotiate a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons on the basis of the document CD/1299 (the Shannon report); (2) to exchange views and information on practical steps for progressive and systematic efforts to reduce nuclear weapons with the ultimate goal of their elimination; (3) to discuss substantively all issues related to the prevention of an arms race in outer space; and (4) to discuss substantively with a view to elaborating recommendations dealing with all aspects of negative security assurances, not excluding those related to an internationally legally binding instrument. The Conference will also appoint Special Coordinators on other agenda items, including new weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons; radiological weapons; comprehensive programme of disarmament; and transparency in armaments.

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 terms of reference of the CD include practically all multilateral arms control and disarmament problems. The Conference conducts its work by consensus. The CD and its predecessors have negotiated such major multilateral arms limitation and disarmament agreements as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Biological Weapons Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. [Top>>]

See also: SG’s statement | SG’s CD address | CD website
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Third session of the Preparatory Committee for 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference successfully concludes with the adoption of consensus report

NPT meeting in progress
NPT meeting in progress
Photo credit: Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs

The Preparatory Committee for the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons held its third session from 4 to 15 May at United Nations Headquarters in New York. This was the last of three sessions of the Preparatory Committee that will be held prior to the 2010 Review Conference.

This session, which was open to all parties to the Treaty, observer States, specialized agencies, international and regional intergovernmental organizations, and non-governmental organizations, addressed both substantive and procedural issues related to the Treaty and the upcoming Review Conference in 2010. The ten days of meetings were chaired by Ambassador Boniface G. Chidyausiku of Zimbabwe.

119 States parties participated in this third session. Palestine participated as an observer as did the following specialized agencies and international and regional intergovernmental organizations: the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, the European Commission, the League of Arab States, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive-Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization.

Addressing the session on its opening, the Secretary-General told delegates that “People understand intuitively that nuclear weapons will never make us more secure. They know that real security lies in responding to poverty, climate change, armed conflict and instability. They want Governments to invest in plans for growth and development, not weapons of mass destruction. If you can set us on a course towards achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world, you will send a message of hope to the world.”

GSI event
Global Security Institute event
Global Security Institute Board Member Christie Brinkley
Gareth Evans of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament
Henrik Salander, Chairman of the Middle Powers Initiative
Hideo Hiraoka, Member of the Japanese Diet
Photo credit: Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs

In his statement, the Chairman noted that delegates were meeting at an opportune time in the history of the NPT. There was abundant political goodwill from all States Parties for the Review Conference to succeed. He wanted to appeal to the meeting that it should not lose the great opportunity that was before it.

Following a general exchange of views on all aspects of the implementation of the Treaty, during which more than 60 statements were made, the Committee’s early meetings were devoted to the procedural issues for the Review Conference in 2010 which were successfully finalized at the session. This includes the provisional agenda and draft rules of procedure as well as the unanimous endorsement of the candidacy of Ambassador Libran N. Cabactulan of the Philippines for the presidency of the 2010 Review Conference.

The meeting also decided that the 2010 Review Conference will be held from 3-28 May in New York.

Sergio Duarte and Jayantha Dhanapala
UNODA, National Film Board of Canada and Pugwash film screening event
UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Sergio Duarte and
Former Under-Secretary General for Disarmament Jayantha Dhanapala
Photo credit: Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs

The Strangest Dream

Several meetings were dedicated to substantive discussion on the following three clusters of issues: 1) the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, disarmament and international peace and security; 2) non-proliferation, nuclear-weapon-free zones and safeguards; and 3) the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Within this framework the Committee also discussed security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon states against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons; regional issues, including the resolution on the Middle East adopted by the 1995 Review and Extension and other provisions of the Treaty such as Article X on withdrawal from the Treaty.

In the margins of the meeting more than 50 side and special events were held by States parties, specialized agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) which included discussions on the nuclear fuel cycle, disarmament and non-proliferation education, IAEA safeguards and prospects for nuclear weapons abolition.

The events included the premiere New York film screening of “the Strangest Dream” on the life and work of Joseph Rotblat, one of the founders of the modern peace movement. 77 NGOs participated in the session with more than a dozen addressing the Committee in a meeting set aside specifically for presentations by NGOs. The Treaty, which entered into force in 1970 and was extended indefinitely in 1995, requires that review conferences be held every five years. The Treaty is regarded as the cornerstone of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime. Its objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament, and to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. [Top>>]

See also: PrepCom 2009 | SG statement
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Secretary-General welcomes entry into force of the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia

On 19 February, Kazakhstan deposited its instrument of ratification with the depositary, Kyrgyzstan, of the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia. With all eligible States now members the Treaty entered into force on 21 March 2009. Its five members are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones map

A statement by his Spokesperson issued on 20 March said that the Secretary-General welcomed the entry into force of the Treaty. The statement added that as the 2010 NPT Review Conference approaches, the Secretary-General trusted that the entry into force of the Treaty would reinforce efforts to strengthen the global nuclear non-proliferation regime, underline the strategic and moral value of nuclear-weapon-free zones, as well as the possibilities for greater progress on a range of issues in the pursuit of a world free of nuclear weapons.

The Secretary-General urged the States concerned to address any outstanding issues that may affect its operation. This included the need for the nuclear-weapon States to accept a Protocol to the Treaty which provides for nega¬tive security assurances, whereby the Parties to the Protocol undertake not to use or threaten to use a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device against any Party to the Treaty.

This is the first nuclear-weapon-free zone (NWFZ) to be located entirely in the northern hemisphere. It borders two nuclear-weapon States, China and the Russian Federation. The Treaty is the first of the NWFZ treaties that requires each Party to comply fully with the provisions of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and to conclude and bring into force the IAEA Additional Protocol no later than 18 months after the entry into force of the Treaty. The Additional Protocol is a set of strengthened safeguards that enhance the ability of the IAEA to provide assurances as to the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in a State.

The Treaty obliges each party to, inter alia, not conduct research on, develop, manufacture, stockpile or otherwise acquire, possess or have control over any nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device by any means anywhere; nor to allow in its territory the production, acquisition, stationing, storage or use, of any nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device.

Other NWFZ include the 1967 Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco), the 1985 South Pacific Nuclear-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Rarotonga), the 1995 Treaty on the South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (Treaty of Bangkok) and the 1996 African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba). In addition, Mongolia has a self-declared nuclear-weapon-free status. The Antarctic Treaty, the Outer Space Treaty and the Seabed Treaty also prohibit the placement of nuclear weapons in the respective geographical areas.

As part of its outreach activities, UNODA has recently produced both a mousepad and a postcard that depict the spread of NWFZ since 1976. [Top>>]

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United Nations Disarmament Commission holds annual session

The United Nations Disarmament Commission closed its three week long 2009 substantive session on 1 May.

Although the Disarmament Commission had not been able to agree on elements of a draft declaration of the 2010s as the fourth disarmament decade - the Commission’s main task this year - a good basis for next year’s deliberations had been achieved, Commission Chairman Andrzej Towpik (Poland) told delegates at the closing of its 2009 substantive session.

UNHighlighting some of the Commission’s achievements in his concluding remarks, Mr. Towpik said agreement had been reached on the agenda for the three-year cycle, of which 2009 was the first.  Working Group I, on “Recommendations for achieving the objective of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons”, had conducted very good discussions.  Working Group II, on “Elements of a draft declaration of the 2010s as the fourth disarmament decade”, also had extensive discussions which could lead to a way forward next year. 

He said a new political development was emerging, with a growing understanding of the need for global solutions for many problems.  In that context, there was also a need to review approaches and thinking in disarmament, in order to revitalize the international disarmament agenda.  The Commission had been created as a deliberative body to recommend aspects of disarmament and must, therefore, be open to new ideas, for which experts could be invited -- an idea that should be kept in mind for next year.

The Commission also needed some critical self-assessment and, if necessary, improvement of its methods of work, he said, and suggested that next year the Commission might devote some meetings to those issues.  He hoped the Commission would become a real centre of reflection on disarmament issues.

The Commission adopted by consensus its report, containing the reports of its Working Group I and Working Group II, which were introduced by their Chairpersons:  Paulo Cuculi (Italy) and Johann Paschalis (South Africa), respectively.

The Commission, a specialized, deliberative body within the United Nations multilateral disarmament machinery, provides a forum for focused deliberation of two or three specific items usually including one on nuclear weapons and one on conventional arms with the goal of achieving consensus to strengthen or create disarmament norms through the submission of concrete recommendations to the General Assembly. [Top>>]

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Disarmament and non-proliferation are linked inextricably to development, human rights and peace, Secretary-General tells his Advisory Board

High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Sergio Duarte
High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Sergio Duarte, UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, Chair of the Advisory Board, Dr. Carolina Hernandez

The Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters met for its 51st Session in New York, from 18 to 20 February 2009. 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 July 2008. Chaired by Dr. Carolina Hernandez of the Philippines, during this session, the Board began discussions on the two substantive agenda items it considered during its winter session in New York, namely: 1) Cyber warfare and its impact on international security and; 2) Ways to strengthen the field of verification, including the role of the United Nations.

The Board also received briefings from three representatives from non-governmental organizations, James Lewis from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on the first topic on their agenda. James Acton and Andreas Persbo, respectively of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and of VERTIC, spoke on the issue of challenges associated with verification of total nuclear disarmament and verification initiatives such as one currently underway between the UK and Norwegian Governments and VERTIC. Their presentations will be published shortly by UNODA in the Occasional Papers series.

The Secretary-General joining his Advisory Board for part of its deliberations stated that while disarmament and non-proliferation were urgent goals in their own right, they were also linked inextricably to development, human rights and peace. By achieving progress in disarmament, vast resources would be freed up to meet other challenges. He looked forward to receiving the Board’s recommendations on the important issues on its agenda.

Sitting also as the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Institute on Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), the Board was briefed by Theresa Hitchens, the new Director of UNIDIR, on its activities and approved UNIDIR’s annual report.

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>>]

See also: Advisory Board | SG’s Statement

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Event at UN HQ to encourage the early entry into force of the Cluster Munitions Convention

clutermunitionsOn 18 March, an event was held at UN Headquarters to encourage the early entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM). The meeting was sponsored by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Mine Action Service and the Cluster Munitions Coalition.

Speaking at the event, Asha Rose-Migiro, the Deputy Secretary-General called on all States that have not yet done so to sign and ratify the Convention so that it can enter into force as soon as possible. She also highlighted the role of the Convention in helping to address the humanitarian, socio-economic and environmental damage cluster munitions weapons cause and the need to consign cluster munitions to the pages of history.

x DSC_0041 by ANZ Cluster Munition Coalition.

Ambassador Kanika Phommachanh, Permanent Representative of the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic, depositing her government's ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions with the UN's Office of Legal Affairs represented by Treaty Section Chief Annebeth Rosenboom

Ambassador Atoki Ileka, Permanent Representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, signs the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. The DR Congo became the 96th state to ban cluster bombs.

At the event the Lao People's Democratic Republic ratified the Convention while the Democratic Republic of the Congo signed.

The convention will enter into force six months after 30 States have ratified it. Cluster Munitions consist of a container or dispenser from which many sub-munitions or bomblets are scattered over wide areas. Many are unreliable and fail to explode with a potential humanitarian impact on civilian populations both during conflict as well as long after with communities unable to farm land or use paths and roads believed to be littered with these weapons. Victims are often children because they are drawn to the unexploded bomblets, which are often small and shiny. Used for more than six decades, they have contaminated countries such as Laos, Viet Nam and Cambodia for over 30 years, while more recently they have been used in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and in southern Lebanon. [ Top>>]

See also: DSG remarks | Cluster munitions

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UN Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa meets in Libreville, Gabon

NINI Under the Chairmanship of Gabon’s Minister of Defence, the twenty-eighth ministerial meeting of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa took place in Libreville, Gabon, from 4 to 8 May. The meeting was attended by all eleven countries of Central Africa, including the ministers of Burundi, Cameroun, Congo, and Sao Tome and Principe, and vice-ministers of Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The meeting was formally opened by Gabon’s Prime Minister, Mr Jean Eyeghe Ndong. His statement underlined progress made in building peace in Angola, Congo and Rwanda over the past 16 years. He also stressed the need for existing peace and security mechanisms to function effectively, and to redefine their objectives to respond adequately to new threats related to territorial claims or attempts at secession. Ms Agnès Marcaillou, Chief of the Regional Disarmament Branch of UNODA delivered a message on behalf of the Secretary-General which highlighted issues of concern to the Committee, including the deterioration of the situation between Chad and Sudan, and the armed violence raging in Eastern DRC.

The Libreville meeting also demonstrated the successful revitalization of the Committee achieved thanks to the increased cooperation between the UN Secretariat, the member states of the Committee, and their subregional organization, the Economic Commission for Central African States which concluded a Memorandum of Understanding with UNODA in 2007. During the meeting, the member states reviewed the peace and security situations of Central African countries, an issue which is central to the UN Committee’s mandate to build dialogue and confidence amongst States of this fragile subregion.

The ministerial meeting took a number of concrete decisions beneficial to the consolidation of subregional approaches to arms control, as well as security sector reform, such as the adoption of a Code of Conduct for Armed and Security Forces in Central Africa, containing a set of guidelines supporting States’ governance of their forces, and a request for the Secretariat to prepare a first draft legal instrument on the control of small arms and light weapons in Central Africa. [Top>>]

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Workshops in Qatar and Vanuatu on Implementing Security Council Resolution 1540

As part of a series of workshops organized by UNODA, a United Nations Workshop on Implementing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 (2004) was held from 8 to 11 March 2009 in Qatar for Arab States and a similar one in Vanuatu from 29 April to 01 May 2009 for Pacific Island States.

QATARThe workshops aimed to enhance national capacities for the management of border and export control processes at a practical level, as well as improve information and experience-sharing between national export control and enforcement authorities. They facilitated assistance and cooperation related to the implementation of resolution 1540 (2004) and served to enhance cooperation with international regional and subregional organizations in provision of such assistance.

The Qatar Workshop, with the participation of Arab States, was organized by the Office for Disarmament Affairs in cooperation with the Government of Qatar and funded by the European Union and the Governments of Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Eighty officials and experts from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syrian Arab Republic, United Arab Emirates and Yemen, as well as international, regional and subregional organizations participated.

VanuatuThe Vanuatu workshop was hosted by the Government of Vanuatu and organized by the Office for Disarmament Affairs with financial and in-kind support from the European Union and the Governments of New Zealand and Norway. Over 50 officials from the Cook Islands, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, as well as representatives of a number of international, regional and subregional organizations participated.

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 requires 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. For these purposes, the resolution specifically calls upon all States to establish and develop appropriate effective border and export controls.

The 1540 Committee was established pursuant to the resolution and States were called upon to report to it on steps they had taken, or intended to take, to implement the resolution. On 25 April 2008, by its resolution 1810 (2008), the Security Council extended the mandate of the 1540 Committee for three years until 25 April 2011 and emphasized the importance for all States to implement fully resolution 1540 (2004). The Council, inter alia, requested the 1540 Committee to continue to organize and participate in outreach events at the regional and subregional level promoting States’ implementation of resolution 1540 (2004). [Top>>]

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