|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
2008 Substantive Session
289th Meeting* (PM)
DISARMAMENT COMMISSION CONCLUDES SESSION, THREE-YEAR CYCLE OF DELIBERATIONS
WITHOUT AGREEMENT ON NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT/CONVENTIONAL WEAPONS ISSUES
Commission Chairman Says No One Expected ‘A Farewell To Arms’, But Even
Against Low Expectations, Commission Produced ‘A Very Meagre Outcome Indeed’
(Issued on 25 April, delayed for technical reasons.)
The Disarmament Commission concluded its three-week session today by adopting its draft report, as well as those of two subsidiary bodies, working respectively on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and on confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons. The session also marked the conclusion of the Commission’s latest three year-cycle which ran from 2006 to 2008.
Prior to adopting the three reports, the Commission heard Jean-Francis Regis Zinsou (Benin), Chairman of working group I, which considered the agenda item on “Recommendations for achieving the objective of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons”, as he introduced that body’s report.
According to the report, the working group held informal consultations on 18 March, and 12 formal meetings from 9 to 24 April, during which it had before it a working paper submitted by its Chairman. On the basis of extensive discussions and informal consultations, the Chairman presented a revised working paper containing elements that, in his view, could serve as a basis to reach a consensus on recommendations for achieving the objective of nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation. Following analysis of the subsequent discussions, a final revised working paper was submitted by the Chairman, but the working group was unable to achieve a consensus on it.
The report of working group II, on “Practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons”, was introduced by that body’s Chairman, Carlos Luis Dantas C. Perez ( Brazil). According to the report, the working group held 10 meetings between 9 and 22 April, with the Chairman’s conference room paper as the basis for discussion. In the course of its deliberations, a revised version of the Chairman’s paper was submitted taking into account proposals and changes made by delegations. An annex was subsequently attached to the paper. The working group then considered that latest version of the revised paper, but also failed to achieve consensus.
Introducing the Commission’s draft report, Rapporteur Monica Bolanos Perez ( Guatemala) said that it was a factual description of the Commission’s work and proceedings during the session. The substantive part comprised the reports of the two working groups and was a reflection of the compromises and agreements reached by delegations through delicate negotiations, which had been carried out in the spirit of constructive cooperation. The two reports, incomplete as they were, accurately reflected three years of progress and failure.
Following the Commission’s adoption of the three reports, Chairman Piet de Klerk ( Netherlands) said “nobody expected the UN Disarmament Commission to bring about a farewell to arms, but… even set against the relatively low expectations we had going into this, we came out with a very meagre outcome indeed”.
He said it was a shame that the hard work did not come to fruition, and added that, despite everyone’s commitment, three weeks was “not enough for the Commission to bring results”. Indeed, “three years were not enough. Nearly a decade was not enough, a decade of disarray”. As the lean years passed, he noted, both expectations and attendance had dropped. At the same time, worryingly, the urgency of the issues had only increased.
There was a stark contrast between the state of the world and the cooperation of the United Nations Member States in the Commission, he said. Therefore, the credibility question was “inescapable, and in time, each and every one of us should be able to answer it”. He promised to be at the disposal of the members for any suggestions they might have regarding the agenda of the Commissions next sessions, and the future. “This question is still open,” he said, adding, “we should not again let two years pass before we can agree on an agenda. Hopefully we can agree, in consultations to be held, on a new agenda before the introduction of a resolution in the First Committee in the fall”.
He said that, however, not all was negative; “we are not leaving the room empty-handed. After all, this is a deliberative organ and we did deliberate”. He pointed to valuable exchanges of views and expressions of opinions on some of the most crucial issues of the day, perhaps even on topics of the highest importance. Members had worked seriously towards consensus, but that consensus had eluded them. Even without consensual conclusions, however, that process counted for something. “Maybe that in itself is a confidence-building measure,” he said.
The Commission also heard concluding remarks by the representatives of Slovenia (on behalf of the European Union), Indonesia (on behalf of the non-aligned movement), India, Pakistan, Norway, Nigeria, China, Iran, Ireland, Cuba, Israel, Russian federation and Syria (on behalf of the Arab States). The representative of Iran took the floor a second time to clarify his position in regard to the statement made by the representative of Israel.
The Disarmament Commission will meet again on a date and time to be announced.
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** Reissued to reflect Chairman’s statement as delivered.