22 December 2004


Press Release

Disarmament Commission

2005 Organizational Session

266th Meeting (PM)

Disarmament Commission Considers Organizational Matters, Expects to hold

substantive session in New York, 18 July - 5 August 2005

The Disarmament Commission met this afternoon, in its 2005 organizational session, to take note of the draft provisional agenda and programme of work for its 2005 substantive session, which is expected to be held in New York from 18 July to 5 August, and to elect its new Bureau.

The Commission, whose membership is universal, is a deliberative body mandated to make recommendations in the field of disarmament and to follow up the decisions and recommendations of the General Assembly’s first special session devoted to disarmament (1978).  The Commission focuses on a limited number of agenda items each session to allow for in-depth discussion.

At the meeting’s outset, the representative of the United States said that her country would not participate in any decisions taken during today’s meeting.

Before the elections, outgoing Chair Revaz Adamia (Georgia) noted that the chairpersons of the Commission’s two working groups would not be appointed at present, given the lack of agreement on agenda items to be discussed during next year’s substantive session.

Following that announcement, Mr. Adamia noted that, as consultations remained ongoing within the African Group -- whose turn it was to nominate a candidate to chair the Commission -- the Commission would return to elect its new Chair at a later date.

In order for the Commission to continue its consultations and preparatory work for the 2005 substantive session, current Vice-Chair Alisher Vokhidov (Ukraine) was appointed to act as Chair, until such time when the African Group would be ready to nominate its candidate.

In a statement following his appointment, Mr. Vokhidov said he was counting on the support of all Member States to achieve the important tasks ahead. Expressing disappointment that the few obstacles remaining for a successful conclusion of the Commission’s work had not been overcome, he nevertheless noted that the Commission had come close to agreement during this year’s deliberations.

Inviting the Commission to look towards the future, he affirmed that the 2005 international disarmament calendar was rich with events, and that the community of nations expected much from those events.  There was reason to be optimistic, he said, as the current international climate not only called for urgent measures, but also allowed for a wide variety of undertakings in the field of disarmament.  While the disarmament community had experienced its share of disappointments in recent years, it had also realized positive achievements of which it could be proud.  All shared the vision of a more secure and peaceful world and should demonstrate the resolve to work for its realization.

The inability of the Conference on Disarmament, and of the Disarmament Commission, to yield tangible accomplishments had resulted in a heightened sense of urgency on the part of the international community to reform and revitalize its disarmament machinery, he noted, in order to address and respond to emerging threats to global peace and security.  Those new threats -- and their appearance at the forefront of today’s security concerns -- had created an atmosphere of expectation among those interested in disarmament issues, and the Commission had witnessed wide expressions of support during the 2004 session of the General Assembly’s First Committee (Disarmament).  None had criticized the Commission’s overall usefulness; they had simply pointed to its shortcomings and addressed ways and means to make the Commission’s work more relevant and responsive to immediate security challenges.

Returning to the issue of elections, Mr. Vokhidov noted that consultations also remained ongoing with the Group of Eastern European States –- whose turn it was to nominate the Commission’s Rapporteur –- as well as within the Groups of Western European and other States, Latin American and Caribbean States, and African States –- who were to nominate candidates for the vice-chairpersonships.

The sole Vice-Chair elected today was therefore Lew Kwang-Chul (Republic of Korea), whose candidacy had been endorsed by the Group of Asian States.

Turning next to the text, recommended by the First Committee and subsequently adopted by the General Assembly, Mr. Vokhidov noted that the items to be considered by the Commission during its 2005 session had been left blank.  He assured the Commission of his intention to consult the regional groups and individual delegations, and to hold open-ended meetings with the Commission’s full partnership to build consensus on the items to be discussed in 2005.

He also noted that the Commission faced the task of setting its agenda every three years.  Each time, the Commission had been able to overcome its natural differences and adopt topics worthy of focused attention, although it necessitated compromise after prolonged and painful negotiations.  At the present juncture, one might conclude that life itself had supplied items too acute to be subjected to the luxury of long delays and prevarications.

Before suspending its organizational session, the Commission agreed to re-establish Working Group I and II -- to address the two specific items that were to be decided on, as well as the Committee of the Whole –- to deal with other substantive and organizational matters.

Also today, during the Commission’s consideration of the provisional agenda, the representative of Qatar took the floor to note that the dates set for the 2005 session would upset the timetable for his country, and others, as they coincided with the summer holiday period.  He therefore requested that the Commission consider moving its substantive session forward.

In response, Mr. Vokhidov noted that the dates for the substantive session had been set by the General Assembly, and that there had been no objection at that time.  Therefore, unless the majority of members concurred, he would not request a reassignment of the dates.

The Disarmament Commission will resume its 2005 organizational session at a time to be announced in the Journal.

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For information media. Not an official record.