Developments and trends, 2004
In his report to the General Assembly on the work of the Organization, the Secretary-General addressed the issues of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and small arms and light weapons (SALW). He stated that the threat of use of weapons of mass destruction cast a shadow over all the peoples of the world.1
He further stated that several issues relating to WMD remained a great concern to the international community and included the slow pace of disarmament, violations of non-proliferation commitments, evidence of a clandestine nuclear network and the threat of terrorism.2
On the issue of SALW, the Secretary-General noted that the United Nations continued to support efforts by a wide variety of actors to implement the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (PoA). In particular, it had provided assistance to Member States in the establishment of national coordinating bodies, the development of national capacity, the management or destruction of stockpiles, reporting on the implementation of the PoA and the enactment or revision of national legislation on the transfer and use of small arms.3
In the context of continued deliberation in the General Assembly on the rationalization of its work, discussions in the First Committee on ways and means to improve its functioning resulted in some concrete action. Its most noteworthy achievement was its efforts to improve the effectiveness of its methods of work. The Committee, chaired by Luis Alfonso De Alba (Mexico), identified 14 resolutions that it would consider biennially and two on a triennial basis. It also streamlined its consideration of agenda items from ten to seven clusters - nuclear weapons; other weapons of mass destruction; outer space; conventional weapons; regional disarmament and security; other disarmament measures and international security; and disarmament machinery. The Committee continued to set aside some time for informal meetings to hear briefings from experts and for purposes of "question time." In this connection, it heard statements from representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), as well as from the Director of UNIDIR (United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research) and the Directors of the Department's three Regional Centres for peace and disarmament.
Against this background, the Committee (and subsequently the General Assembly) adopted, without a vote, an Indonesia-led resolution on improving the effectiveness of the Committee's methods of work.4
The resolution invited Member States to take steps such as submitting draft resolutions in a more concise, focused and action-oriented manner; considering the biennialization or triennialization of agenda items; continuing to hold interactive debates; and merging resolutions that were similar in substance. The submission of the Indonesian text was the outcome of intensive consultations and incorporates elements from draft resolutions submitted earlier by Malaysia, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), and the United States, which were subsequently withdrawn.
1Report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization
, Supplement No. 1