Disarmament Insight


Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Revitalisation of the Conference on Disarmament I

These insights are part of what was offered by UNIDIR as an abbreviated backgrounder to the current thematic debate in the Conference on Disarmament (CD) on ways to revitalize the Conference. Participants in that debate on 14 June will have heard the CD’s president, Ambassador Kahiluotu (Finland), draw on some of the following points.
1.  On 24 September 2010, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, noting that “Moving forward on multilateral disarmament negotiations requires political courage, creativity, flexibility and leadership”, convened and opened the High-Level Meeting on Revitalizing the Work of the Conference on Disarmament and taking forward Multilateral Disarmament Negotiations (HLM).  The UN General Assembly held a follow-up meeting on the HLM on 27 July 2011 chaired by GA President Deiss (Switzerland).  And in the Conference itself, CD Secretary-General Tokayev made a statement on 14 February this year drawing the attention of members to Mr Ban Ki-moon’s “persistent calls for serious decisions to be taken with regard to the future of the Conference on Disarmament”, and made a number of suggestions for moving forward.
2.  “Revitalizing the Work of the Conference on Disarmament and taking forward Multilateral Disarmament Negotiations” has become an agenda item of the UN General Assembly (UNGA).  Separate resolutions under that item were tabled during the most recent session of UNGA by Austria, Mexico and Norway (though not pressed to a vote) and by the Netherlands, South Africa and Switzerland (A.66/66).  The latter resolution, adopted by the UNGA without dissent, urged the CD to adopt and implement a programme of work to enable it to resume substantive work on its agenda early in its 2012 session, and it decided that at its next annual session it would “review progress made in the implementation of the present resolution and, if necessary, to further explore options for taking forward multilateral disarmament negotiations”.
3.  In his summing up of the HLM, UN Secretary-General asked his Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters to undertake a thorough review of the issues raised at the meeting, including the possible establishment of a high-level panel of eminent persons with special focus on the functioning of the Conference on Disarmament. In its report of 11 July 2011 (A/66/125), the Advisory Board expressed differing views on such a panel as well as on its possible composition. Further steps towards setting up an eminent person panel have yet to be taken.
4.  The CD’s Rules of Procedure (CD/8/Rev.9) have not been substantively revised since the origin of the Conference post UNSSOD I except to reflect changes in membership and to give effect to a decision in 1990 on the “Improved and Effective Functioning” of the CD (CD/1036).  As well as amending rules 7, 9 and 28, that decision included a direction to the Secretariat to simplify the programme of work, that is, to construct it as a schedule of activities giving indications of the weeks in which those activities would occur.
5.  “Improved and Effective Functioning” of the CD was last taken up by the CD in 2002 under a Special Co-ordinator who reported that his consultations had not led to a consensus (CD/PV.911, pp 14-19). Two subsequent postings will cover issues on which the Special Co-ordinator consulted, together with additional possible areas within the CD’s practices and rules of procedure that may warrant revitalisation.
This is a guest post by Tim Caughley. Tim is a Resident Senior Fellow at UNIDIR.