New proposal on schedule of activities
Gabriella Irsten and Beatrice Fihn | Reaching Critical Will of WILPF
The Conference on Disarmament met on Tuesday, 15 May for the first plenary of the second part of the 2012 session. The plenary opened with the President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser addressing the Conference. Statements were also delivered by the delegations of Bulgaria, India, United States, Ethiopia, Egypt, Mexico, and Germany.
- The President of the UNGA, Mr. Abdulaziz Al-Nasser expressed concerns regarding the CD stalemate and its future.
- The CD welcomed new representatives from Bulgaria, Italy, and Finland.
- CD President, Ambassador Getahun of Ethiopia, presented a joint P6 schedule of activities for the rest of the 2012 session and asked delegations to be ready to comment on it by next plenary on 22 May.
UNGA President addressed the Conference on Disarmament
The President of UNGA, Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, stated that he remained confident that CD member states will “eventually bring the work of this session of the Conference on Disarmament to a successful conclusion”. However he also warned that the continuation of the deadlock could have implications on the role, function, and even the future of the CD.
He supported the call by the CD Secretary-General, Mr. Tokayev, in February, to continue to pursue a programme of work and deal with issues of procedural matters to “build further trust and momentum in the work of the conference.”
Mr. Al-Nasser noted that the role of the CD as the sole multilateral negotiation forum was a requirement made by the UNGA at the First Special Session on Disarmament (SSOD-I) in 1978, and argued that this has not changed. He drew attention to recent progress on nuclear weapons, such as New START and the successful 2010 NPT Review Conference, which included a decision on a conference to discuss the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMDFZ) in the Middle East. However, he noted that all these positive developments have taken place outside the CD. Mr. Al-Nasser stated that “the agreement on a programme of work is the least members States can agree on, it is not a miracle.” He continued by appealing to member states to follow the current president in “serious and inclusive consultations over a draft programme that is consensual, realistic and not necessarily ideal.”
US Ambassador Laura Kennedy and Ambassador Ivan Piperkov of Bulgaria supported one of the “consensual, realistic and not necessarily ideal” approaches, the most recent draft programme of work by the Egyptian ambassador in CD/1933. Mr. Mohamed Hatem El-Atawy of Egypt also reiterated his belief that CD/1933 remained the most realistic basis through which a balanced programme of work could be achieved.
Draft schedule of activities
The CD President, Ambassador Getahun of Ethiopia, presented on behalf of the six presidents of 2012, a “Draft Schedule of Activities”. The draft includes a schedule for the remainder of the CD meetings in 2012, each with an assigned topic. The schedule assigns two plenary meetings to each of the four “core” issues: nuclear disarmament, a fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT), prevention of an arms race in outer space, and negative security assurances. It also schedules one plenary meeting to deal with the remaining three other items: new types of WMD, a comprehensive programme of disarmament, and transparency in armaments. In addition to this, the schedule includes two plenary meetings for discussions on “revitalization of the CD”.
The President noted that even though the draft provides members with the possibility of holding substantive discussions, the P6 will continue to hold consultations and discussions in order to agree on a comprehensive programme of work.
One of the upcoming presidents of this CD session, German Ambassador Hellmut Hoffman, expressed his support for the schedule and argued that the proposal “represents a concrete example of practical P6 coordination, which is in itself a desirable goal.”
Ms. Jaquez of Mexico voiced support for the fact that the programme of activities will take place in plenaries, which will allow civil society participation. However, she also highlighted that these activities should not be seen as substantive work and emphasized that it must not be perceived as such in the CD annual report to the UNGA.
Making progress on FMCT?
The delegations of Germany, United States, and India highlighted the importance of negotiating an FMCT. Ambassador Hoffmann of Germany noted that his delegation will be hosting a scientific experts meeting on 29 and 30 May in Geneva, in order to build confidence and increase knowledge around fissile materials. The US Ambassador stated that while delegations spend time evaluating options, such as looking to the UNGA framework, she believed it is important to not lose track of the “international community’s long-term goal to begin FMCT negotiations.” She believes it to be essential that any upcoming FMCT negotiation include key states, including those with capacity for the production of fissile material.
The next plenary meeting will be held on Tuesday, 22 May at 10:00 am.