Disarmament Commission Failed to Capitalize on Momentum Created by Achievements of 2010, Says Chairman as Session Concludes

21 April 2011

Disarmament Commission Failed to Capitalize on Momentum Created by Achievements of 2010, Says Chairman as Session Concludes

21 April 2011
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Disarmament Commission

2011 Substantive Session

316th & 317th Meetings (AM)

Disarmament Commission Failed to Capitalize on Momentum Created

By Achievements of 2010, Says Chairman as Session Concludes

Delegates Express Regret over ‘Paralysis’ while Nuclear Threat Still Looms

The Disarmament Commission had failed to capitalize on the momentum created by a host of achievements in the disarmament field of during 2010, Hamid al-Bayati ( Iraq), its Chairman, said today as the body concluded its twelfth consecutive fruitless substantive session.

“The Commission… missed a good opportunity to build on the positive developments witnessed during the past year,” said the Chairman, referring to recent agreements including the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) between the United States and the Russian Federation and the August 2010 entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.  He noted that delegations had frequently cited those achievements, among others, throughout the Commission’s three weeks of intensive deliberations.

He said the Commission had also failed to signal the end of its long period of stagnation, noting that, at the conclusion of yet another unsuccessful three-year cycle of work, its credibility was now seriously threatened.  Echoing calls by several delegations during past, equally unproductive sessions, he said the Commission had reached the point where it must reconsider a debate on its working methods, which was needed to ensure that the Commission “fulfills its solemn mandate from the General Assembly”.

Despite those shortcomings, however, he commended the efforts of the Commission’s three Working Groups, the reports of which were presented today.  While none of them had been able to reach a consensus on their respective outcome documents, their deliberations — particularly those in Working Groups I and II — had built a potential foundation for consensus in the Commission’s next cycle, he said.

Presenting the reports were Knut Langeland (Norway), Chair of Working Group I, on “Recommendations for achieving the objective of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons” (document A/CN.10/2011/CRP.3); Kayode Laro,(Nigeria), Chair of Working Group II, on “Elements of the draft declaration of the 2010s as the fourth disarmament decade” (document A/CN.10/2011/CRP.4); and Liseth Ancidey (Venezuela), Chair of Working Group III, on “Practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons” (document A/CN.10/2011/CRP.5).

As the Commission adopted the reports, by consensus, the three Chairs said they were purely organizational in nature as they lacked any substantive outcomes.

Also today, Hervé Djokpe(Benin), the Rapporteur of the Commission, presented the draft report on the Commission’s 2011 substantive session (document A/CN.10/2011/CRP.2), stressing that its lack of concrete recommendations reflected the complexity of the issues at hand, rather than any deficiency in the work of the Commission or its Working Groups.

After adopting each chapter individually, the Commission adopted the draft report as a whole, without a vote, as orally revised.

In successive statements, delegates described the lack of progress as “regrettable”, and expressed their hopes that future substantive sessions would find more areas of common ground.  “We stand before the same predictable results, as usual,” said Mexico’s representative, adding that it was inadmissible that the Commission continued to suffer its current “paralysis” while the world still faced the serious threat of nuclear weapons.

Hungary’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that both the deliberative and the negotiating bodies set up under the auspices of the General Assembly had once again fallen short of their agreed goals.  To achieve them, the Commission should hold discussions on more specific subjects and limit its agenda to no more than two carefully chosen items, he added.

However, other delegations disagreed with the idea that deficient working methods were to blame for the shortfalls.  Cuba’s representative — stressing that the Commission’s lack of success was not an isolated incident but the symptom of a recurring problem — said that blaming the working methods was a distraction from the real issue:  an unacceptable number of nuclear weapons on the planet.  In that light, the current lack of progress could not “give rise to resignation”, and the aims of the Fourth Decade for Disarmament could not be questioned in any way, he said, proposing the adoption of an international convention to eliminate nuclear weapons within 25 years.

Norway’s representative said discussions had been substantive, which fulfilled at least part of the Commission’s mandate.  “At least we tried,” he said, urging Member States to “think outside the box” about making the best use of the Commission in the future.

Indonesia’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, agreed that the deliberations of the three Working Groups had been very important and substantive, despite their inability to make recommendations.  The Movement hoped for a more results-oriented session in 2012 and called for greater political will, flexibility and cooperation by all States in that regard.

Also offering closing remarks were representatives of Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sweden and Spain.

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