29 March 2006

Disarmament Commission Integral Part of Global Disarmament Efforts, Says New Chairman at 2006 Organizational Session

Substantive Session at Headquarters 10 - 28 April

NEW YORK, 28 March (UN Headquarters) -- Saying that what happened within the walls of the Disarmament Commission was not an isolated event, but an integral part of global disarmament efforts at all levels, the Commission's new Chairman, Joon Oh (Republic of Korea), urged members to come back to the table to grapple with the substantive issues and try to narrow the gap in their views on them, following a two-year stand-off in their work.

When the Commission meets at its 2006 substantive session, from 10 to 28 April, it will have an agreed substantive agenda for the first time in two years.  Members painstakingly arrived at language for two agenda items for its usual three-year cycle of deliberations last December, as follows:  "Recommendations for achieving the objective of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons" and "Practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons".  They also agreed that the issue entitled "Measures for improving the effectiveness of methods of the Commission" would be considered in plenary during the 2006 substantive session, with equitable time allocated to it.

In opening remarks at today's organizational meeting, Ambassador Oh paid tribute to outgoing Chairman Sylvester Rowe (Sierra Leone) for his guidance and leadership, and praised the constructive spirit of last year's deliberations, which resulted in agreement on the three substantive items.  He said that the emergence of new kinds of threats, and the fact that they were rapidly thrust to the forefront of the world's security concerns, as well as the need to deal with them without further delay, had created a new atmosphere of greater expectations among politicians, disarmament professionals, non-governmental organizations, the academic community and civil society, meaning, among the general public at large.

It was not easy to build a perfect balance of interests on issues as important as disarmament and security and on ways and means to achieve them, he acknowledged.  As the disarmament community moved on from the difficulties of the past, he invited the Commission to look to the future.  The present international climate not only called for urgent measures, but also allowed for a wide variety of undertakings in the field of disarmament.

He added that the inability of the Conference on Disarmament and the Disarmament Commission to yield tangible results had contributed to a heightened sense of urgency, on the part of the international community, to reform and revitalize the disarmament machinery, so that it could adequately react and respond to emerging threats to global peace and security.  That new element added to an already existing heavy responsibility, which the international community bore collectively and individually.

The Commission also elected today by acclamation, to serve as vice-chairpersons, the delegations of Belarus, Poland, Austria and Israel.  The delegation of Brazil will chair working group II on the second agenda item on conventional weapons.  Consultations were still ongoing for the remaining vice-chairpersons, rapporteur and working group chairs.  (The delegates' names will be published as soon as the delegations provide them). 

Along with the adoption of its draft provisional agenda today (document A/CN.10/L.57), the Commission also adopted it programme of work document A/CN.10/2006/CRP.1).  Elections for the remaining bureau members would be held at the start of the substantive session in April.

The Commission will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 10 April, to begin its 2006 substantive session.

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