Wednesday, 27 June 2012
These additional insights on current practices and procedures of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) are the final of a three part posting of what was offered by UNIDIR as an abbreviated backgrounder to the current thematic debate in the 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.
There is no mechanism in the CD’s rules for self-review. Reform of the Conference might include provision for a 5-yearly review of the kind familiar to parties to many disarmament treaties.
2. Regional meetings:
Members may wish to bear in mind that originally regional meetings had the purpose of streamlining the president’s consultations on matters of basic procedure and timetabling of meetings. There is no rule governing the role of regional groups. Nor are regional groups required to agree on matters of substance, although if no agreement exists within a regional group – whether on a matter of substance or procedure - it can usually be assumed that there will not be a consensus in the Conference as a whole. Sometimes, however, when it comes to the crunch in the Plenary, and on the record, members may not pursue their objection to the point of breaking a consensus.
3. Rotating presidencies:
The extremely short time frame for the rotating presidencies is often cited as a serious CD inefficiency. However, if and when negotiations get underway, continuity of those negotiations will be at least yearly, rather than monthly, because they will be presided over by an elected chair separate from the role of president. (Rule 9.)
4. Agreeing the programme of work annually:
More problematic is the rule that requires the work programme to be agreed annually. However, again, if the programme of work were to be seen in its original form as a schedule of activities, the CD should be able to rise above this obstacle especially if substantive negotiations had developed a momentum of their own. (Rule 28.)
A comprehensive review of the CD would include a review of its agenda to update it to reflect modern realities. (Rules 27 and 31.)
6. Expansion of the membership:
Pressure is building for an expansion of the membership of the CD. It is anomalous that all UN members contribute to the costs of this body whether or not they are members of it. (Rule 2, Rules 32–36, Annex 1.)
Pressure for improved rules for access by NGOs to the work of the CD, comparable to that in other disarmament processes, also continues to build. NGOs enjoy no greater access to the Conference than members of the public in general. Unfortunately, the decision in 2004 to enhance the level of access is dependent first on agreement by the CD of its programme of work. (Rule 42.) (see also CD/PV.946).
8. UN specialized agencies:
The rule for access by UN specialized agencies and other relevant organs has not been updated to reflect the growth in disarmament bodies and processes that could help advance the work of the CD. (Rule 41.)
9. CD as “a single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum”
The notion of the CD as a single negotiating forum is much misunderstood and misquoted. Even the CD’s own annual resolution and report to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) gets it wrong. The most recent CD resolution (A/C.1/66/L.13/Rev.1) tabled in the First Committee at UNGA66 mistakenly refers to the CD as “the sole multilateral disarmament negotiating forum” (emphasis added). What is the difference between “single” and “sole”? “Sole” has come to be used in some quarters as though the CD were the only legitimate multilateral disarmament negotiating forum. The use of the words “a single” was intended by the UN General Assembly at its first Special Session on Disarmament (UNSSODI) in 1978 to mean something else. What the General Assembly had in mind was that the CD would be a single (as opposed to the sole) forum. That is, it would provide a single edifice within which key disarmament issues would be negotiated by key states as needs arose (assuming the necessary consensus). It was seen as more effective and efficient to support a single institution and maintain a single repository of knowledge and expertise than to take up disarmament issues, one by one, in an ad hoc manner. Not an exclusive forum for disarmament negotiations, but a convenient one.
10. Relationship of the CD to UNGA/SSOD I:
There is no authoritative statement of this relationship to UNIDIR’s knowledge. Analysts most commonly describe the CD as an “autonomous body” but that word does not appear in the Final Document of UNSSOD-I or anywhere else. Nor, given the CD’s close relationship with the United Nations, does that forum have all the qualities of autonomy. It is not fully independent. For instance, the CD meets on UN premises, is serviced by UN personnel, its Secretary-General is appointed directly by the UN Secretary-General and acts as his Personal Representative, its rules require it to take into account UNGA resolutions on disarmament (although it is not obliged to act on them), it is required to send its reports to the UN, and it has become the practice for the Conference to transmit the texts of any treaties or agreements to the GA to be formally adopted and then opened for signature. Nor – crucially - is it self-sufficient: its budget is included in the UN budget, and the UNGA has the capacity to withhold funding in total or in part.
This is a guest post by Tim Caughley. Tim is a Resident Senior Fellow at UNIDIR.
These insights on current practices and procedures of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) are the second of a three part posting of what was offered by UNIDIR as an abbreviated backgrounder to the current thematic debate in the 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. Simplifying the “programme of work”, confining it largely to a schedule of activities, shorn of negotiating mandates:
Until 1992 the programme of work (rule 28) consisted mainly of a schedule of activities of the Conference and the agenda (rule 27), adopted together in a single document. However, after the conclusion of negotiations on the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1992, the presidency of the Conference began consultations on reviewing both the agenda and the membership of the Conference. This separate focus on the agenda led to it being treated as separate from the programme of work thereafter.
2. De-linking mandates from the programme of work:
The reason why the agenda and the programme of work were once embodied in a single document was for ease of allocating blocks of time to respective agenda items. But if the work programme is treated in a manner separate from (but related to) the agenda, it can still serve the same purpose. The programme would set out specific periods of time and the relevant dates for taking up specific agenda items. It would also list other organizational matters that it wanted to address. For instance, in CD/963 of 7 February 1990 and CD/1119 of 22 January 1992, the Conference projected the need to convene subsidiary bodies “according to the circumstances and needs” of those bodies. It also agreed dates for the meeting of the Ad Hoc Group of Scientific Experts on seismic events (pre-CTBT).
In the past, the first step of the CD each year was to agree on the organizational framework for the session ahead, including the allocation of time or space for subsidiary bodies. No mention was made of actual mandates. The second step was to settle on mandates for the subsidiary bodies that members agreed to establish. At its broadest abstraction, the UN General Assembly’s mandate for the CD is that it must operate as a negotiating body. Hence, it was seen as logical that at least one of the mandates for subsidiary bodies would be a negotiating mandate or would foreshadow one. In any event, the CD is not compelled to establish subsidiary bodies, but can do so “when it appears that there is a basis to negotiate a draft treaty” (rule 23).
Incidentally, “Comprehensive and balanced”, the qualifying words used frequently in references to the work programme, carry no weight in terms of the CD’s rules, but are political interpolations used to perpetuate linkages. The CD’s rules of procedure require that a programme of work must be established each annual session as the basis for the CD’s efforts for that year. But the rules do not require that that programme be “comprehensive and balanced” in those specific terms. There is no procedural requirement for the programme to be comprehensive, although it would need to be perceived to be balanced as a practical element of the consensus necessary for concerted implementation of it.
3. Consensus rule:
In the absence of any likelihood of obtaining agreement to replace the consensus rule, there is a case for developing an understanding amongst CD members of the responsibilities attached to invoking the consensus rule. Such an understanding might situate the rule in the context of actual substantive negotiations and decisions on the mandate for those negotiations, leaving decisions setting the procedural parameters for those negotiations to a more relaxed “general agreement” approach – that is, the absence of any persistent objection. (Rule 18.)
4. Adoption of reports by consensus:
There also needs to be a better understanding about the rule on adoption of reports by consensus. That rule makes it clear that the approval by consensus of Conference reports such as the annual report to the General Assembly requires the faithful reflection of the positions of all the members. This rule underpins the furnishing of substantive reports rather than minimalistic ones by making it clear that a member cannot object to the inclusion in a draft report of a viewpoint with which it disagrees as long as that viewpoint faithfully reflects the position of its proponent(s). (Rule 25.)
5. Annual reports to the UN General Assembly (UNGA):
It is arguable that in the current circumstances of deadlock, the CD’s annual report to the UNGA should reflect substantive positions on issues of both substance and procedure, rather than the customary, anodyne procedural reports. (See also the note on rule 25 above.)
6. Conduct of work in Plenary Meetings:
Better understanding is needed of the rule that the work of the Conference shall be conducted in plenary meetings—the default option. It is open, of course, for the CD to agree on any additional arrangements, such as informal meetings with or without experts. There is a mistaken view that negotiations can only be carried on in subsidiary bodies. This is not the case. Subsidiary bodies are to be convened only on a discretionary basis whenever the Conference deems it advisable for the effective performance of its functions, including when it appears that there is a basis to negotiate a draft treaty or other draft texts. (Rules 19, 22 and 23.) In practice, however, negotiations of a draft treaty lend themselves to the greater informality - off the record - offered by subsidiary bodies compared to formal plenaries.
A further posting will cover additional possible areas for reform within the CD’s practices and rules of procedure.
This is a guest post by Tim Caughley. Tim is a Resident Senior Fellow at UNIDIR.
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.
Wednesday, 20 June 2012
These insights on the treatment in the CD of the core issue, nuclear disarmament, were offered by UNIDIR as background to the current thematic debate on that issue in the Conference.
Participants in that debate on 19 June will have heard the CD’s president, Ambassador Kahiluotu (Finland), draw on some of these points.
1. Nuclear disarmament was the subject of the first resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1946. The first special session of the General Assembly on disarmament (UNSSOD I) made clear in its consensus resolution that the accumulation of weapons, particularly nuclear weapons, constituted much more a threat than a protection for mankind. At its initial session in 1979, the Committee on Disarmament (pre-cursor of the CD) which was established by UNSSOD I, agreed a list of issues for its future work on the cessation of the arms race and disarmament. Top of this list of ten subjects, often referred to as the “Decalogue”, was nuclear weapons in all its aspects.
2. The more detailed agenda for 1979 (CD/12) contained six items, three of which related to nuclear disarmament: (1) a nuclear test ban; (2) cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament; and (3) effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon states against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.
3. The first proposal on the issue of “cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament” was submitted by the Group of Eastern European States in 1979. It envisaged negotiations on the cessation of the production of all types of nuclear weapons and the gradual reduction of their stockpiles until their complete destruction.
4. That document was followed by a number of working papers submitted by the Group of 21 (members of the Non-Aligned Movement) proposing that the CD should begin informal consultations on the elements for negotiations on nuclear disarmament and subsequently establish a working group for negotiations of agreements and concrete measures on nuclear disarmament. No consensus emerged on any of these early proposals or on other proposed mandates for nuclear disarmament tabled in the 1980s.
5. As of 1994, under the item “cessation of nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament” the Conference began closer consideration of the prohibition of the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. Proposals to list fissile material as a separate agenda item from nuclear disarmament did not acquire consensus but ultimately, in order to ensure that fissile material would continue to be addressed, the CD agreed that the President would make a statement following the adoption of the agenda that this issue could be dealt with under the nuclear disarmament item.
6. From the beginning of the 1995 session the atmosphere in the CD was influenced by uncertainties surrounding preparations for the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review and Extension Conference and its outcome. It was expected by many non-nuclear weapon states (NNWS) that reciprocation for their agreement to the indefinite extension of the NPT would generate momentum for dealing with nuclear disarmament in the Conference.
7. When this did not eventuate the G21 called for the immediate establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee to negotiate after the conclusion of the CTBT negotiations on a phased programme of nuclear disarmament and for the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons within a time-bound framework. Although this proposal did not command consensus, a number of members of the G21 submitted a three-phase “programme of action for the elimination of nuclear weapons”, as a basis for work of an Ad Hoc Committee. The first phase (1996–2000) envisaged measures aimed at reducing the nuclear threat and measures of nuclear disarmament, the second phase (2000–2010) included measures to reduce nuclear arsenals and to promote confidence between states, and the third phase (2010–2020) was planned for “Consolidation of a Nuclear Weapon Free World”.
8. In the aftermath of the CTBT negotiations a range of other proposals emerged, amongst them one by Japan to appoint a Special Coordinator on nuclear disarmament charged with identifying issues in the field of nuclear disarmament that could be negotiated in the Conference. South Africa submitted a draft decision and mandate for the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee on nuclear disarmament “to deliberate upon practical steps for systematic and progressive efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons as well as to identify if and when one or more such steps should be the subject of negotiations in the Conference”. And Algeria submitted a dual proposal on nuclear disarmament and fissile material.
9. The first President of the 1998 session, mindful of the growing interest of members in addressing nuclear disarmament, conducted a series of consultations and issued a statement in which he acknowledged the “extremely high priority of the agenda item ‘Cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament’”. Later that year, the CD established subsidiary bodies on fissile material and NSAs but not on nuclear disarmament per se, prompting the G21 to state that a “satisfactory solution to the issue of nuclear disarmament will have a direct bearing on the work of the CD in the future”.
10. Thereafter mandates for subsidiary bodies were fused into a single document – the so-called “comprehensive and balanced programme of work” - under which no progress has been made on any of the core issues including nuclear disarmament. None of the work programmes proposed during the current deadlock has entailed a negotiating mandate for nuclear disarmament, but CD/1933/Rev.1 sought to strengthen the relevant mandate through the term “deal with nuclear disarmament” in contrast to CD/1864’s notion of an exchange of views on this issue.
This is a guest post by Tim Caughley. Tim is a Resident Senior Fellow at UNIDIR.
The artwork is by Ai Y, of Hiroshima, Japan, awarded Second Place in the Nature category, UN ART FOR PEACE 2012 ages 13-17, www.un.org/disarmament/
Wednesday, 13 June 2012
N S As
These insights were offered by UNIDIR as an abbreviated backgrounder to the current thematic debate in the Conference on Disarmament (CD) on a core issue on the CD’s agenda, Negative Security Assurances. Participants in that debate on 12 June will have heard the CD’s president, Ambassador Kahiluotu (Finland), draw on many of the following points.
Since the negotiation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) during the late 1960s, many of the non-nuclear weapon states (NNWS), especially those of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) who were not covered by any military alliance and were not in receipt of security guarantees under such alliance, expected that in return for agreeing to renounce nuclear weapons they should receive assurances that they would not be left vulnerable to attack by countries that still had them. That is, that they would receive legally binding “negative security assurances” (NSAs).
In 1978, the final document of the First Special Session of the General Assembly devoted to Disarmament asked nuclear-weapon states (NWS) to “pursue efforts to conclude, as appropriate, effective arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons”.
Since 1978 the Conference on Disarmament (CD) has included the topic of negative security assurances in its annual agenda. In 1979 an ad hoc working group was established chaired by Egypt. In its first report to the Conference, the group noted that there was wide (though not universal) recognition of the urgent need to reach agreement on effective international arrangements for NSAs, such as an international convention.
The following year the working group agreed that the object of the arrangements should be to effectively assure NNWS against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. But there were divergent views on whether there should be a blanket or qualified extension of NSAs to NNWS, and on the exceptions associated with the right to self-defence.
Ad hoc groups were reconvened every year until 1994, and in 1995, the NWS circulated renewed pledges on NSAs to the UN General Assembly and Security Council. These unilateral declarations from 1995 led to the adoption of UN Security Council resolution 984 to the effect that NNWS parties to the NPT would receive assurances that “the Security Council, and above all its nuclear-weapon State permanent members, will act immediately in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Charter of the United Nations” to protect non-nuclear-weapon states against attacks or threats of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used.
These unilateral commitments were a part of efforts to obtain the indefinite extension of the NPT at the 1995 NPT Review Conference. The NWS, however, were unable to find common language for a similar clause in the final outcome document of the Review Conference. Instead, the Conference adopted a recommendation that “further steps should be considered to assure non-nuclear-weapon States party to the [NPT] against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. These steps could take the form of an internationally legally binding instrument”.
Aside from Security Council resolutions, NSAs are also included in additional protocols of the treaties establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones (NWFZs). Although the NPT nuclear weapon states express their support of these the treaties, of the existing NWFZ treaties the Treaty of Tlatelolco is the only one which has had its protocols and ratified by all five NPT weapon states.
After several years of inability to continue work on NSAs, the CD reconvened the ad hoc committee on this topic in 1998. That body’s mandate was to negotiate “effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use on nuclear weapons”. The committee began work on 19 May, holding 9 meetings in all.
Incidentally, the mandates on Fissile Material and NSAs in 1998 were stand-alone ones, not intrinsically incorporated into a single programme of work. The committee has not since been reconvened, leaving NSAs to be addressed in thematic debates on this topic such as those now being conducted in the CD.
Despite the CD’s current longstanding deadlock over its programme of work and priorities, it is not thought that any state officially opposes the establishment of a working group on NSAs. Recent iterations of a mandate on NSAs (including CD/1864 and CD/1933/Rev.1) envisage that a subsidiary body dealing with NSAs would “discuss substantively, without limitation, with a view to elaborating recommendations dealing with all aspects of this agenda item, not excluding those related to an internationally legally binding instrument”. This is a far cry from the negotiating mandate agreed by the CD in 1998.
A comparatively recent development of relevance to the debate on NSAs is that in the United States Nuclear Posture Review, released in April 2010, it was stated that the US is now prepared to strengthen its long-standing “negative security assurance” by declaring that it will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that are party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations. This revised assurance is intended to underscore the security benefits of adhering to and fully complying with the NPT.
This is a guest post by Tim Caughley. Tim is a Resident Senior Fellow at UNIDIR.
Monday, 11 June 2012
These insights - provided by Theresa Hitchens, Director, UNIDIR - were offered as an abbreviated backgrounder to the current thematic debate in the Conference on Disarmament (CD) on a core issue on the CD’s agenda, the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space. Participants in that debate on 5 June will have heard the CD’s president, Ambassador Kahiluotu draw on many of the following points.
The Conference on Disarmament – then the Committee on Disarmament – began formal deliberations of the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS) in 1985, with the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee on PAROS. This followed from several earlier initiatives within the United Nations General Assembly – initiated by the then-Soviet Union in 1981.
The UNGA adopted two resolutions regarding arms control and outer space in 1981: A/RES/36/97, sponsored by the Western Europe and Others Group (WEOG) which asked the CD to negotiate a treaty to ban anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons; and A/RES/36/99, sponsored by the Eastern European states, which urged the Committee to negotiate a treaty banning the placement of weapons in outer space. In 1982, General Assembly resolution A/RES/37/83 called on the then-titled Committee on Disarmament to prioritize the issue of “the prevention of an arms race in outer space” and to establish an ad hoc committee during its 1983 session.
Thus the term PAROS was born as reflecting a compromise between the two earlier, more specific resolutions – which in turn represent long-standing differences that exist to some extent to this day about how to prioritize threats to space security.
The Ad Hoc Committee was tasked “to examine as a first step at this stage, through substantive and general consideration, issues relevant to the prevention of an arms race in outer space.” The programme of work was established as follows:
1. Examination and consideration of issues relevant to PAROS
2. Examination and consideration of existing agreements relevant to PAROS, and
3. Examination and consideration of existing proposals and future initiatives on PAROS.
Unfortunately, the fundamentally different perceptions of security threats, priorities and methods to address them ultimately doomed the Ad Hoc Committee’s efforts. The Committee met annually from 1985 to 1994, each year failing to result in any agreed pathway forward. Differences among states included the question of whether or not new legally binding measures were required, what threats (ASATs vs. weapons in space) were actually real and present dangers, and whether the Committee’s focus should be on substantive discussions or on developing a negotiating mandate. The Ad Hoc Committee’s work finished at the end of its session in 1994; it was not re-established in 1995 because some Member States wanted linkage between the continuation of the PAROS Committee and an Ad Hoc Committee on a Fissile Material Treaty. As such, neither Committee was re-established. Indeed, the linkage between PAROS and a Fissile Material Treaty was for many years the fundamental reason for the CD’s overall paralysis.
In the years following the Ad Hoc Committee’s demise, interest in PAROS at the CD was kept alive essentially by three Member States: Canada, the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation. In January 1998, Canada proposed a new Ad Hoc Committee to negotiate the non-weaponization of outer space. In a February 2000 working paper, the People’s Republic of China proposed that the PAROS Ad Hoc Committee be revived with a mandate to negotiate a “new international legal instrument prohibiting the testing, deployment, and use of weapons, weapon systems and components in outer space.” In 2002, China and the Russian Federation put forward a working paper outlining possible elements of a future treaty to prevent the deployment of weapons in outer space; in 2008 the two states submitted a draft treaty – based on refinement of their initial proposal in response to comments and discussions over the intervening years – on the Prevention and Placement of Weapons in Outer Space (PPWT). Between 2006 and 2009, Canada submitted four working papers on various PAROS related issues, including verification of a treaty and transparency and confidence-building measures (TCBMs).
In 2009, with the adoption of resolution CD/1864, the long stalemate at the CD regarding its programme of work was broken – in part due to a compromise that de-linked negotiations on PAROS and Fissile Material; instead providing a negotiating mandate on the latter and a discussion mandate for the latter. On PAROS the programme of work would have created a working group to “discuss substantively, without limitation, all issues related to the prevention of an arms race in outer space.” Sadly, the agreement collapsed almost as soon as it was printed. PAROS, however, remains one of the “core” agenda items for the CD and an eventual programme of work.
As the CD continues its efforts to reach agreement on its future activities, Member States should be aware of several other ongoing efforts regarding space security that could impact future PAROS discussions:-
In 2010, the General Assembly established, under A/RES/65/68, a UN Group of Governmental Experts on Transparency and Confidence Building Measures for Outer Space Activities (GGE) to meet in 2012 and 2013. It should be remembered that a similar GGE -- on the “Study and on the application of confidence building measures in outer space” (A/48/305) – resulted in a study that was the subject of positive follow-up consideration by the CD’s Ad Hoc Committee in 1994. If the current GGE is able to reach agreement on a report in 2013, the CD potentially could again be in a position to take such work forward – although there continues to be some disagreement within the Conference between those Member States who see TCBMs as worth pursuit in and of themselves and those who see value in TCBMs only if they are linked to pursuit of a legally binding treaty.
The second on-going effort of note is the European Union’s initiative to develop an international code of conduct for space activities, which is essentially a macro-level norm setting approach. On 5 June 2012, the EU presented its latest draft text at an experts meeting in Vienna and will be launching a political process to refine the text and broaden support. The current draft text covers both military and non-military uses of space, and some TCBM-type elements that again would require consideration in any future PAROS discussions or negotiations within the CD.
Finally, the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) in Vienna is working to develop best-practice guidelines for space activities in order to promote the “long-term sustainability” of space. This is a largely technical undertaking and the Committee has no mandate to discuss military space operations. However, many of the foundational issues that are being discussed, such as exchange of data on orbital objects and notification of planned maneuvers, are also foundational aspects of any future TCBM or treaty regime. This work is set to conclude with a proposed list of voluntary best practices in 2014.
Thus, there is a vast and growing body of work on PAROS and related issues that the CD could draw upon in future discussions or negotiations. This, in and of itself, is a source for optimism that if the CD begins work on PAROS, progress toward multilateral solutions could be forthcoming relatively rapidly.