Disarmament Insight


Monday, 23 February 2009

CCW: The Sounds of Science...

"Now here we go dropping science, dropping it all over
Like bumping around the town, like when you're driving a Range Rover
Expanding the horizons and expanding the parameters
Expanding the rhymes of sucker MC amateurs

"Naugels, Isaac Newton, Scientific EZ
Ben Franklin with the kite, getting over with the key
Now rock shocking the mic, of the many times times the times tables
Rock well to tell dispel all of the old fables"

- Beastie Boys, Sounds of Science"
Last week I postulated Borrie's third law of CCW diplomacy (I'll tell you about the others some time - but it will cost brave readers at least a drink, and perhaps some sanity). The hypothetical law states that the CCW process will expand to fill all available time, and is based on my empirical observations of the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons process over a long period - especially when the CCW is held over a steady flame and shaken, for example by proximate precipitation of a weapons ban treaty like a Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM).

I invited falsification of my theory by observation or physical experiment. Yet, the theory still stands for now. On Friday, the Argentinean Chair of the 2009 CCW Group of Governmental Experts, Gustavo Ainchil, adjourned the meeting after he quickly gavelled through a procedural report that included agreement for a further four days of meetings in April in Geneva, based on an agreement in late 2008 that:
"The GGE will meet for up to two weeks in 2009, from 16 to 20 February 2009 and subsequently, if required, from 14 to 17 April 2009".
As explained in the preceding blog post, although the atmosphere at last week's GGE was significantly improved over a testy November Meeting of CCW States Parties, there are no firm signs anything will come of the extra sessions. The positions of states still seem to be too far apart. An annex to Friday's procedural report containing the Chair's take on a "consolidated text" of a draft protocol appeared to display the same characteristics that caused substantial disagreement over November's text. Implicitly, this is recognised in the new Chair's text, with various footnotes noting delegations' "expressions of concern" and that "discussions continue".

This should not detract from Mr. Ainchil's efforts, which appear to have been exemplary so far. Argentina is really giving the negotiation its best shot and most of last week's allotted time to the GGE was mostly taken up with various Chair-faciliated bilaterals and other informal meetings, and it was a clearly tired Mr. Ainchil who adjourned Friday's session. But few in the room envy him his rather thankless task - of achieving a protocol that looks as far from agreement as in November, or of winding down the process in as face-saving a manner as possible, thus sparing the CCW regime any damage.

April will tell whether the CCW's work will be a Solid Gold Hit, or or the end of the road for the GGE work. And, of course, another test for the hypothetical third CCW law....

John Borrie

Papers from the CCW GGE meeting should eventually turn up on the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs' website here.


Patricia said...

In what way does the Borrie CCW hypothesis differ from the well-established and more general Parkinson Law???

Disarmament Insight said...

My hypothetical law is essentially identical to Parkinson's Law (i.e. that "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion"), except for the fact that it sounds (hopefully) more impressive, and is of course is even more pseudo-scientific.