General Assembly, 2003
The General Assembly held a general debate at its plenary meetings between 23 September and 3 October, 1
during which a number of Member States, many represented at the level of Head of State or Government addressed a wide range of disarmament and security issues in the light of the new challenges and threats to international peace and security.
The First Committee, meeting under the chairmanship of Jarmo Sareva of Finland, held a general debate on all its agenda items, listed in Annex II to this chapter (see page click here
), between 6 to 10 and from 13 to 16 October, and structured discussion (thematic discussion and introduction of draft resolutions) from 20 to 24 October, and took action on draft resolutions from 27 to 30 October and from 3 to 6 November.2
The General Assembly took action on three draft resolutions and one decision dealing with the subjects discussed in this chapter.
Conference on Disarmament
58/66- Report of the Conference on Disarmament
The draft resolution was introduced by Japan, on 23 October. It was adopted without a vote by the First Committee on 28 October and by the General Assembly on 8 December. For the text of the resolution, see page click here
The draft resolution contained a new paragraph which requested all CD member States to cooperate with the current President and successive Presidents in their efforts to guide the Conference to the early commencement of substantive work in its 2004 session.
58/67 - Report of the Disarmament Commission
The draft resolution was introduced by Nepal, on behalf of the sponsors (see page click here
for the sponsors), on 24 October. It was adopted without a vote by the First Committee on 29 October and by the General Assembly on 8 December. For the text of the resolution, see page click here
According to Nepal, the draft resolution reflected the fact that the agenda of the 2004 Commission was still open and would be decided in the course of the forthcoming organizational session and in subsequent consultations, if needed.
The two States that explained their votes after the vote expressed disappointment that the Commission failed this year, after three years of work, to agree on a substantive report that could be endorsed by the First Committee. For its part, the United States believed that the UNDC must start to address topics that are both relevant to current security concerns and sufficiently focused to bring delegations together in a constructive and cooperative manner. Canada touched upon the revitalization of the UNDC noting its potential to make valuable contributions to the disarmament discourse.
Reform of the First Committee
58/41 - Improving the effectiveness of the methods of work of the First Committee
The draft resolution was introduced by the United States, on behalf of the sponsors (see page click here
for the sponsors) on 23 October. The revised draft resolution was adopted without a vote by the First Committee on 5 November and by the General Assembly on 8 December. For the text of the resolution, see page click here
According to the United States, the initiative reflected the sponsors' belief that Member States should examine how the First Committee could improve its annual agenda to permit a fuller examination both of its existing agenda and of new threats to the common security. The draft resolution requested the Secretary-General to seek the views of Member States on the issue of improving the effectiveness of the Committee's work methods, to prepare a report compiling and organizing the views of Member States on appropriate options, and to submit the report to the fifty-ninth session of the General Assembly for its consideration.
Speaking before the vote, India indicated that it would support the draft resolution because it provided a platform for furthering the First Committee's work and would enable the Committee to make an important contribution to the larger question of the revitalization of the General Assembly. In its statement before the vote, Pakistan said that it would join the consensus, but cautioned that attempts to improve the Committee's work should be consistent with the UN Charter.
Explaining its position after the vote, Cuba emphasized that the effectiveness of the main Committees, including the First Committee, depended more on the political will of the Member States than on any changes in their working methods.
Iran and Brazil, also speaking after the vote, stressed that initiatives aimed at improving the effectiveness of the First Committee should only be considered within the broader discussions of the overall UN reform and revitalization of the General Assembly. Regarding new and existing threats to international peace and security mentioned in the draft, Iran reiterated the NAM position that threats - particularly those from the continued existence of nuclear weapons and of their possible use or threat of use - were among the most dangerous ones and must be accorded the Committee's highest priority.
58/521Convening of the fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament
The draft decision was introduced by Malaysia on behalf of States Member States of the United Nations that are members of the Non-Aligned Movement, on 4 November. It was adopted without a vote by the First Committee on 5 November and by the General Assembly on 8 SDecember. For the text of the decision, see page click here
Malaysia explained that, by adopting the draft decision, the NAM was hopeful that Member States and all political groupings would engage constructively and find common ground to facilitate the work of the Open-ended Working Group in 2006. The draft decision took note of the report of the Open-ended Working Group to consider the objectives, agenda, possible establishment of a preparatory committee for SSOD IV, and requests made by Member States to continue consultations in that regard.
1Official Records of the General Assembly, Fifty-eighth Session, Plenary Meetings
, 7th to 22nd meetings.
Ibid., First Committee
, 2nd to 23rd meetings.