Within the overall framework of revitalization of the work of the General Assembly, the proposals tabled during the First Committee on rationalizing the work of the Committee underscored the interest of Member States in improving the UN disarmament machinery's functioning with a view to better meeting the challenges in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation under the evolving security environment. Next year, Member States are expected to have a more in-depth consideration of this issue, aimed at formulating agreed recommendations to the General Assembly.
The continuous failure of the Conference on Disarmament to undertake its substantive work and the inability of the UN Disarmament Commission to reach agreement on either nuclear disarmament or confidence-building measures (CBMs) on conventional arms in 2003, after a three-year cycle of deliberation, underlined the wide differences among Member States on both the priority in this field and on some key disarmament issues themselves. Debate continued on whether this was due to the lack of political will on the part of States or the necessity to overhaul the multilateral disarmament machinery.
The Department of Disarmament Affairs continued to provide substantive and technical support to various disarmament bodies and expert study groups, coordinating or participating in interdepartmental activities, and cooperating with other international organizations dealing with issues related to its mandates. It also continued to collect data and issue reports containing information received from governments, and it carried out an active disarmament information programme. In order to cope with the new challenges and address such cross-cutting issues as the illicit small arms trade, the Department enhanced its coordination and cooperation with other United Nations departments and agencies. Efforts also intensified in emerging priority areas, such as the link between terrorism and WMD, disarmament and human security, and gender perspectives in disarmament. DDA further assisted States in need through training and capacity building. Requests from States to DDA for assistance in carrying out disarmament-related activities will likely increase next year.