Press Releases

    27 July 2005

    Disarmament Commission Adopts 2005 Report

    NEW YORK, 26 July (UN Headquarters) -- The Disarmament Commission adopted its 2005 report today, concluding its resumed organizational meeting begun last December to formulate an agreed agenda for its next substantive session, scheduled for three weeks in April 2006.

    At the conclusion of the meeting, Chairman Sylvester Rowe (Sierra Leone) declared the report adopted as a whole, adding in concluding remarks that no one should underestimate what the Commission had accomplished in three days last week, from 18 to 20 July, against all odds and against even members’ own expectations.  That accomplishment should not be totally overshadowed by other problems that were recognized by all.

    The Commission was sending a message to the General Assembly and the international community at large, he said, emphasizing that it was viable and ready to reassume its full responsibilities as a specialized body of the Assembly.  It was also sending a message to other United Nations disarmament machinery and the Disarmament Conference in Geneva that current challenges demanded a change of attitude in deliberations on disarmament and international security.

    The Disarmament Commission had set an example, notwithstanding the outcome of the present meeting, he continued.  Although the outcome was difficult to explain to the outside world, the Commission had agreed to place two items on the agenda for next year and decided to hold an in-depth discussion of its working methods.  However, the irony lay in its reluctance -- not its failure -- to tell its parent body, the General Assembly, that it had reached such an agreement and to admit that it was reluctant to implement such an agreement.  Subsequent developments notwithstanding, it had succeeded in establishing a new coalition for the revitalization of the Disarmament Commission when delegations from various regional groups had sat around a table and come to an agreement.  It was to be hoped that that coalition, comprising various groups, would remain intact.

    Cuba’s representative emphasized the fact that, both in the informal consultations at the beginning of July and during the meetings of the present organizational session, the delegations of the Non-Aligned Movement had truly demonstrated a constructive attitude that was consistent with the Movement’s real interest in reaching agreement.  However, it was regrettable that it had not been finally endorsed today, due to the fact that the United States delegation had opted to make a substantive amendment.  It was also regrettable that the Commission had been unable again this year to hold a substantive session.  That situation was extremely difficult for the Commission and for the United Nations disarmament machinery.

    There was a need for renewed political support from the international community, particularly those States that questioned the priorities established by the General Assembly in the sessions devoted to disarmament, he said.  No changes in the Commission’s working methods could respond to the actual absence of the necessary political will to make progress on a multilateral approach to disarmament, particularly nuclear disarmament, as demonstrated clearly during the present session.  Cuba wished to reiterate that the Disarmament Commission must be preserved as a specialized deliberative body within the disarmament machinery of the United Nations.

    Venezuela’s representative expressed concern at the situation, because the fundamental element involved the whole disarmament development system and the United States’ policy of constructing new atomic weapons systems.  Despite that country’s efforts to try and convince Commission members, it had not been possible to do so and members must reflect on whether governments that were developing such weapons should use them.

    The representative of the United States recalled that on 22 July, his delegation had proposed an amendment to allow the Disarmament Commission to begin substantive work in 2006.  During the Commission’s upcoming fall sessions the United States would be ready to discuss those and related issues.  The Commission had made significant progress under its Chairman’s leadership and he looked forward to the fall sessions.

    Other speakers included the representatives of Jordan, the United Kingdom and Sierra Leone.

    Having undergone several revisions and amendments, after a week of intensive discussion on agenda items for the next cycle of deliberations, the report contained the text of two agenda items and a third issue in a description of its work, as agreed during the organizational meetings last week.  But a last-minute oral amendment to the first agenda item -- on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation -- introduced by the United States last Friday, resulted in the relegation of the “agreements” from the “conclusions and recommendations” section of the report to the section on the Commission’s “organization and work” in 2005, as no discussion and, therefore, no agreement, ensued on that proposal.

    The text of the two agenda items read, respectively, as follows:  “Recommendations for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons in all its aspects, in particular for achieving the objective of nuclear disarmament”; and “Practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons”.  The report also referred to the United States delegation’s 22 July proposal of an oral amendment to the first agenda item, as follows:  “Recommendations for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons”.

    Similarly, the following formulation, also agreed last week, appeared in the “organization and work” section of the report:  “On 20 July, the Commission also agreed, ad referendum, in addition to the two agenda items agreed to above, to include the following text in its report, that the issue of measures for improving the effectiveness of the methods of work of the Disarmament Commission will be considered in plenary meetings at its 2006 substantive session, with equitable time allocated to it.”

    In other business today, the Commission elected, by acclamation, Christophe McBride (United Kingdom) and Meir Itzchaki (Israel), as Vice-Chairpersons.  Still pending were nominations for two more Vice-Chairpersons, from the African and Eastern European groups.

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