2010 Disarmament Commission Session Did Not Distinguish Itself from Past Sessions, Chair Says, Relieved Other Forums Had Advanced Disarmament, Non-Proliferation

16 April 2010

2010 Disarmament Commission Session Did Not Distinguish Itself from Past Sessions, Chair Says, Relieved Other Forums Had Advanced Disarmament, Non-Proliferation

16 April 2010
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Disarmament Commission

2010 Substantive Session

308th Meeting* (AM)

2010 Disarmament Commission Session Did Not Distinguish Itself from Past Sessions,

Chair Says, Relieved Other Forums Had Advanced Disarmament, Non-Proliferation

While Commission’s Work This Year ‘Fruitless’, It Was Framework

To Assess Risks to Humanity, Raise Sense of Urgency for Addressing Them

After three weeks of intensive deliberations, the Disarmament Commission had not succeeded in distinguishing its 2010 session from its previous meetings over the past 11 years, that body’s Chair said today as it concluded its annual substantive session.

“Fortunately for humanity, the challenges of disarmament and non-proliferation had been better served in other fora during April 2010,” said Jean-Francis Régis Zinsou (Benin), welcoming, in that respect, the conclusion in Prague on 8 April of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States on the reduction of their arsenals, as well as the nuclear summit hosted in Washington, D.C., earlier this week.

He also highlighted the release on 6 April of the United States Nuclear Posture review, which guaranteed the non-use and non-threat of use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States that complied with their obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).  Under its new policy, the United States also stated it would not develop new nuclear weapons.

Mr. Zinsou said that even if the Commission’s work had been “fruitless”, it had provided a framework to evaluate the risks that humanity faced and to raise the sense of urgency for addressing them.  It was also possible to evaluate the relevance binding the United Nations to a declaration on the fourth disarmament decade and to forge a common vision that could guide the international community in that area.

Although it had failed to finalize recommendations on the elements of such a declaration this year, he hoped the Commission would nevertheless be able to do so in the coming year -– particularly in light of all the risks that continued failure would pose to its credibility and to the principle of multilateralism.

Thanking the chairs of the Commission’s working groups for fulfilling their mandates, he said the outcome of their work provided a solid basis for continued deliberations and augured well for the third and final session of the Commission’s triennial cycle next year.  Nevertheless, with the Commission slated to address the three subjects on its agenda simultaneously at its next session, he hoped Member States would grasp the challenge that workload posed and exhibit the requisite flexibility.  He also appealed to them to mobilize the necessary political resolve to complete the cycle he knew they all supported.

The Commission also adopted the reports of its two working groups for the current session.  Paolo Cuculi ( Italy), chair of Working Group I on “recommendations for achieving the objective of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons”, introduced its report (document A/CN.10/2010/CRP.3).  Johann Paschalis ( South Africa), chair of Working Group II on “elements of the draft declaration of the 2010s as the fourth disarmament decade”, introduced its report (document A/CN.10/2010/CRP.4).  

Rapporteur Lachezara Stoeva (Bulgaria) introduced the Draft Report of the Commission (document A/CN.10/2010/CRP.2), which she described as a factual description of the Commission’s work and proceedings, further noting that the session’s substantive part was comprised of the two reports of its working groups.

Summarizing the work of those two groups, she said the rich contributions from delegations during Working Group I laid a “solid basis” for its 2011 deliberations, while the “degree of convergence of different positions and approaches and the flexibility shown by delegations in general” left hope that Working Group II would achieve agreement next year.

After each of the draft report’s four chapters were adopted individually, the Commission adopted the draft report as a whole, as orally revised, without a vote.

Speaking after that action, the representative of the Russian Federation said the session’s work had been interesting, but not easy.  In his view, the session’s work had been different from previous sessions.  That was largely due to the historic disarmament agreement that had been signed during the session.  That legally binding treaty, as he saw it, took disarmament to a new level and was a good example of how two nuclear Powers could reach agreement on very important and serious aspects for reducing strategic nuclear weapons.

He further stressed that the Commission’s work, together with the nuclear security summit held in Washington, D.C., served as a “prologue” to the NPT Review Conference starting in two weeks.  Many of the session’s discussions would spill over into that review, and, to some extent, the current session was “training” for finding common positions to overcome the very serious remaining differences.  While it was true that no major agreements had been made during the current session, nations should not be discouraged.  “The process of disarmament is a very long process that requires time, desire and the participation of all States without exception.”

Thanking the chairs of the working groups for their knowledge and personal involvement in the discussions, he expressed separate thanks to Sergio Duarte, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, whose statement to the Commission had covered the essence of all activities in the area of disarmament and had highlighted the principles on which further progress could be constructed.

Speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Indonesia’s representative said that although Working Group II had not managed to conclude its work, it had had been productive session on the full spectrum of issues.  Still, in the context of Working Group I, he hoped the next session would bring more progress in the area of disarmament. 

The representative of Spain, speaking on behalf of the European Union, praised the constructive spirit that had been displayed this year.  The Union hoped sincerely that the conducive atmosphere created outside the United Nations during the Commission’s work would prevail during the upcoming NPT Review Conference.

Nigeria’s representative, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the last few weeks had been instructive in revealing the gaps between delegations, particularly in Working Group 1.  He appealed to the Commission to complete the mandate of Working Group II in the next session so that other important areas of disarmament could be considered.

A few representatives said that to be more effective, the Commission must consider changes in its working methods, particularly since it would address three, and not just two, topics during its 2011 session.  The representative of the Republic of Korea said that, as a more long-term issue, the Commission must streamline its agenda-making process.   Pakistan’s delegate suggested that more intersessional consultations might be helpful as the Commission tackled a third agenda item next year.  Such contact did not have to include actual meetings, but could make use of electronic communications, he explained.

However, when the Commission took up that proposal, several delegations noted that the disarmament agenda was quite busy for May, June and July.  The United States representative said that while his delegation did not object to the circulation of papers and ideas, or even to consultations, it remained sceptical of a more formal mechanism.  Moreover, he was not sure the proposed consultations would be particularly useful.

Speaking for the European Union, Spain’s delegate said that decision should be taken by the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) during the sixty-fifth session of the General Assembly, after a specific debate on that proposal.  Following those comments, the Chair said that, since was no consensus on the issue, the Commission would leave the matter pending.

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*     The 307th Meeting was closed.

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