(New York) The 61st session of the Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters (ABDM) took place from 5 to 7 March 2014 at the UN Headquarters in New York.
The 15 member Board sits in closed sessions twice a year with the role of advising the Secretary-General on current and emerging disarmament issues. The two principal issues on the agenda for the current session were: 1) disarmament and security implications of emerging technologies, and 2) verification, with a special focus on emerging technologies.
The meeting opened with remarks by the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Angela Kane, who congratulated the Board on its “ability to go beyond official talking points and to draw upon [its members] professional experiences and creativity.” She stated that “Your purpose here is to act not as representatives of your national governments, but rather as independent thinkers and innovators. Your function, and the advice you prepare for the Secretary-General, is an essential component of the United Nations disarmament machinery.”
In addition to its advisory function, the Board is also tasked to serve as the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR).
The current chair of the Board is Dr. Istvan Gyarmati, Hungarian Ambassador, Professor and President of the Centre for Democracy Public Foundation. The chair is responsible for the submission of a report with recommendations to the Secretary-General.
The three-day meeting concluded with a short speech from the Secretary-General who thanked the members for their work and encouraged their efforts in the field of disarmament.
The Secretary General told the Board that he relied on their advice. Based on their recommendations from last year, he said, “In my message to the Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons in November, I called for greater vigilance. I urged them to address the implications arising from emerging weapons and their technologies. In particular, I encouraged them to look at all aspects of the issue of autonomous weapons systems to better understand their potentially grave humanitarian impact while considering implications for international humanitarian law and the Convention through their possible use.”
Mr. Ban told the Board that he counts on it members “to continue to explore all innovative ways to keep the United Nations at the forefront of global disarmament” matters.
Article and photographs by Sophie Durut