As Disarmament Commission Concludes Three-Week Session, Chair Says Discussions Established Atmosphere of ‘Mutual Respect and Understanding’

1 May 2009
DC/3172

As Disarmament Commission Concludes Three-Week Session, Chair Says Discussions Established Atmosphere of ‘Mutual Respect and Understanding’

1 May 2009
General Assembly
DC/3172
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Disarmament Commission

2009 Substantive Session

301st Meeting (AM)

AS DISARMAMENT COMMISSION CONCLUDES THREE-WEEK SESSION, CHAIR SAYS DISCUSSIONS

ESTABLISHED ATMOSPHERE OF ‘MUTUAL RESPECT AND UNDERSTANDING’

Notes Agreement Reached on Agenda for Three-Year Cycle;

Debate in Two Working Groups Laid Solid Ground for Further Deliberations

Although the Disarmament Commission had not been able to agree on elements of a draft declaration of the 2010s as the fourth disarmament decade -- the Commission’s main task this year -- a good basis for next year’s deliberations had been achieved, Commission Chairman Andrzej Towpik ( Poland) told delegates today at the closing of its 2009 substantive session.

Highlighting some of the Commission’s achievements in his concluding remarks, Mr. Towpik said agreement had been reached on the agenda for the three-year cycle, of which 2009 was the first.  Working Group I, on “Recommendations for achieving the objective of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons”, had conducted very good discussions.  Working Group II, on “Elements of a draft declaration of the 2010s as the fourth disarmament decade”, also had had extensive discussions, based on its Chair’s non-paper, which could lead to a way forward next year.  Most of all, a good atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding had been established, which formed a good basis for further work.

He said a new political development was emerging, with a growing understanding of the need for global solutions for many problems.  In that context, there was also a need to review approaches and thinking in disarmament, in order to revitalize the international disarmament agenda.  The Commission had been created as a deliberative body to recommend on aspects of disarmament and must, therefore, be open to new ideas, for which experts could be invited -- an idea that should be kept in mind for next year.

The Commission also needed some critical self-assessment and, if necessary, improvement of its methods of work, he said, and suggested that next year the Commission might devote some meetings to those issues.  He hoped the Commission would become a real centre of reflection on disarmament issues.

The Commission adopted by consensus the reports of Working Group I and Working Group II, which were introduced by their Chairpersons:  Paulo Cuculi ( Italy) and Johann Paschalis ( South Africa), respectively.

The report of the Disarmament commission on its 2009 substantive session, as orally amended and including the Working Groups’ reports, was also adopted by consensus.

Introducing the draft report, Rapporteur Piet de Klerk ( Netherlands) said the reports of the Working Groups reflected the first year of discussions in the three-year cycle, with its modest progress.

He said that dialogue on the complex issue of “Recommendations for achieving the objective of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons” had been off to a good start.  The Commission allowed practical and action-oriented considerations, as well as broad philosophical and conceptual approaches to the issue, without being under negotiating pressure.  From that point, all contributions and comments constituted a rich background which the Group could use for the next two years.

On the agenda item on the “Elements of a draft declaration of the 2010s as the fourth disarmament decade”, he said that, although consensus had not been achieved on the elements and the modality to report to the General Assembly during its 2009 session, the degree of convergence of different positions and approaches and the flexibility shown by delegations left the hope that agreement would be achieved next year.

In their concluding remarks, delegates underlined the positive and constructive atmosphere at the current session, even though there were divergent views on disarmament issues.  There was a sense of optimism that bode well for the next session, speakers said.

The representative of Norway said he believed in the potential of the Commission as a deliberative forum that could add value to the multilateral disarmament machinery.  Yet, that potential was underutilized.  The Commission had found itself deadlocked for too long as it tried to reach consensus on substantive issues.  As a result, few countries found it useful enough to send experts to the annual session.  Yet, the Commission was ripe for revival.  Addressing the issue of working methods, he said shorter and more thematically focused sessions could help revitalize the interest for the Commission in capitals.  The matter of always striving for negotiated consensus documents might also be discussed.  If the main aim was to deliberate, then an extensive Chairman’s summary could suffice as an outcome document, bringing main points for discussion into the First Committee (Disarmament).

Pakistan’s representative, however, warned that it was not always advisable to apply corporate logic to intergovernmental proceedings, as it would not lead to long-term durable solutions.  Likewise, the principle of consensus must be preserved.  The Commission could benefit from a more generous allocation of human and financial resources and the United Nations should resist the urge to “cut corners”.

The representative of Czech Republic, speaking on behalf of the European Union, suggested that the 2010 session might be more productive if it took place after the Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

The representatives of Bolivia, Indonesia (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Nigeria (on behalf of the African Union) and China also spoke.

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*     The 300th Meeting was closed.

For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.