Arms limitation and disarmament agreements, including verification of compliance
The subject of verification has been a growing concern in global arms control and disarmament negotiations since the Second World War. In 1959, General Assembly resolution 1378 established general and complete disarmament under effective international supervision as the aim of global disarmament efforts. Since then, verification has been part of many multilateral or bilateral arms control activities. In 1988, the UN Disarmament Commission adopted the 16 principles of verification, including that adequate and effective verification arrangements must be capable of providing, in a timely fashion, clear and convincing evidence of compliance or non-compliance. Continued confirmation of compliance is an essential ingredient to building and maintaining confidence among the parties. Requests for inspections or information in accordance with the provisions of an arms limitation and disarmament agreement should also be considered as a normal component of the verification process.
This year, to further explore the issue, the General Assembly took a concrete step by requesting the Secretary-General to establish a panel of governmental experts on the issue and transmit the panel's report to the General Assembly for consideration at its sixty-first session.
General Assembly, 2004
59/60. Verification in all its aspects, including the role of the United Nations in the field of verification
The draft resolution was introduced by Canada on behalf of the sponsors (see page 1
for the sponsors) on 22 October. It was adopted without a vote by the First Committee on 1 November and by the General Assembly on 3 December. For the text of the resolution see pages 5
The resolution requested the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its sixtieth session on further views received from Member States; and also requested him, with the assistance of a panel of government experts to be established in 2006 on the basis of equitable geographic distribution, to explore the question of verification in all its aspects, including the role of the United Nations in the field of verification, and to transmit the panel's report to the General Assembly for consideration at its sixty-first session.
Before the vote, Pakistan stated that it was not convinced that another panel of experts could make a significant contribution to the philosophy of verification at this stage. It also maintained that any moves to revise or negate already agreed parameters and principles in the field of verification would negatively impact existing achievements and consensus on that critical issue. Iran believed that the UN Disarmament Commission was the most appropriate body to further explore this issue, including the UN role, taking into account the 16 verification principles it had already adopted and its extensive deliberations on the issue. Egypt suggested that the First Committee examine the recommendations in the report of the 1995 Group of Governmental Experts on verification before embarking on a new study on the same subject with a new panel of experts.
After the vote, four States explained their positions. The United States believed that any UN study that addressed verification should also examine issues of compliance and enforcement of compliance. It noted that the mandate for the study outlined in the draft resolution omitted those two factors, without which arms control and disarmament agreements would not strengthen international security and stability. The United Kingdom and Japan cautioned that the work of the panel should not undermine or overlap the work of the IAEA or the OPCW or other multilateral bodies, nor should its work be used as a pretext for delaying ongoing efforts to enhance verification in existing regimes in the UN system. Japan also had questions on the scope and objectives of the panel of experts, the relationship between the future role of the UN in verification and existing regimes, and the necessity to establish a panel of experts in 2006. India believed that recommendations to establish a panel of governmental experts were premature in view of the Disarmament Commission's work and the 1995 report of the governmental experts.
59/68. Observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementation of agreements on disarmament and arms control
The draft resolution was introduced by Malaysia on behalf of the States Members of the United Nations that are members of the Non-Aligned Movement on 22 October. It was adopted by the First Committee on 27 October (165-1-3) and by the General Assembly on 3 December (175-2-3). For the text of the resolution and the voting see page 26
The draft resolution reaffirmed that international disarmament forums should take fully into account the relevant environmental norms in negotiating disarmament and arms limitation treaties and agreements. It also called upon States to adopt unilateral, bilateral, regional and multilateral measures so as to contribute to ensuring the application of scientific and technological progress in the framework of international security, disarmament and other related spheres without detriment to the environment or to its effective contribution to attaining sustainable development. Member States were also invited to communicate to the Secretary-General information on the measures they had adopted to promote the resolution's objectives, and requested the Secretary-General to submit a report containing this information to the Assembly's sixtieth session.
The United States voted against the draft resolution because it saw no direct connection between general environmental standards and multilateral arms control agreements and was not convinced that the issue was relevant to the First Committee's work. It maintained that States parties should take relevant environmental concerns into account when implementing bilateral, regional or multilateral arms control and disarmament agreements. Moreover, the United Nations should not attempt to set standards for the content of arms control and disarmament agreements, but should let the choice rest with the parties involved.