14 April 2004


Press Release

Disarmament Commission                                     

2004 Substantive Session                                   

261st Meeting (AM)

Disarmament commission continues discussions on possible work programme

Substantive discussions stalled again today in the Disarmament Commission, as it grappled with proposals of a procedural nature on the way ahead -- either achieving consensus on the disarmament items to be deliberated and continuing work, or adjourning the session.

The Commission, whose membership is universal, generally considers the same two items each year for a three-year cycle, including one related to nuclear disarmament.  This session was to be the start of a new three-year cycle, following the Commission’s inability last year to advance either of its two items in their third year -- nuclear disarmament or confidence-building in the field of conventional arms, with the consensus adoption of guidelines and recommendations.

After much debate, in which a range of positions emerged –- from a request for more time to study the Chairman’s proposal on a possible agenda to the suggestion that there was not as much agreement on the items as the Chairman thought -- it was decided that there would be a bureau meeting at 11 a.m. Thursday 15 April, and a formal meeting of the Commission at 10 a.m. Friday, 16 April.  (For the contents of that proposal, see Press Release DC/2913 of 13 April).

Making clear that the United States could not accept adjourning the session and then reconvening it after the Preparatory Committee of the 2005 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), that country’s representative said that if the session was adjourned, it would not meet again until next year.  He added that he had been in close contact with Washington, D.C., both by phone and e-mail, and based on the draft he had seen, “we’re very close to agreement on these topics and it would be a shame to give that up now”, he said.

Conversely, Egypt’s representative, pointing out that the rules of procedure on adjourning the session allowed for at least six possible legal permutations, said that the Indonesian delegation, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement of countries (NAM), had been quite wise yesterday when he requested an adjournment without invoking the rule of procedure, because it would have been unwise to engage the Commission in a voting exercise.  The signal had been, however, that “we are not really close to an agreement on substance and yesterday’s debate reinforced that opinion”.

Also participating in the discussion today were the representatives of Ireland, on behalf of the European Union, South Africa, Iran, Argentina, and Indonesia, on behalf of the NAM.

The Commission Chairman is Revaz Adamia (Georgia).  The other members of the bureau are:  Alisher Vohidov (Uzbekistan), Kwang-chul Lew (Republic of Korea), Hugo Flores (Peru), Frederic Bijou (Costa Rica), Saad Maandi (Algeria), Noel-Emmanuel Ahipeaud Guebo (Côte d’Ivoire), Philomena Murnaghan (Ireland), and Amela Sudzuka (Bosnia and Herzegovina), as Vice Chairpersons.  The Rapporteur is Meir Itzchaki (Israel).

The Commission will meet again at 10 a.m. Friday, 16 April.

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For information media. Not an official record.