12 September 2013
The Conference on Disarmament, the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community, concluded its 2013 session in a public plenary today. The session officially ends tomorrow, Friday 13 September.
In a message to the Conference on 22 January - read out by the Secretary-General of the Conference and Director-General or the United Nations Office at Geneva, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for an end to the continued stalemate concerning the work of the Conference to avoid jeopardizing its credibility. Mr. Ban, however, stressed that the Conference was central to disarmament negotiations and to strengthening the rule of law in global disarmament. Mr. Ban also called on States to ensure that the Conference lived up to its responsibility and to revive substantive negotiations without delay.
In a statement, on 18 June, Mr. Tokayev recalled his past proposals on substantive and procedural aspects that could contribute towards the resumption of substantive work and made three additional proposals on: the establishment of an informal working group with a mandate to produce a programme of work, the establishment of a subsidiary body to examine and make proposals on the improving of the Conference’s working methods, and the designation of a special coordinator to examine and make proposals on the expansion of the Conference’s membership and the possible role that civil society may play in its work.
On 16 August, Member States of the Conference adopted decision CD/1956/Rev.1 on the establishment of an Informal Working Group with a mandate to produce a Programme of Work robust in substance and progressive over time in implementation, in line with Mr. Tokayev’s proposal of 18 June 2013. In 2013 the Informal Working Group, which is co-chaired by Ambassador Luis Gallegos Chiriboga of Ecuador and vice-co-chaired by Ambassador Peter Woolcott of Australia, held three meetings respectively on 26 August, 2 September and 9 September. At the request of the President of the Conference, on 10 September, Ambassador Gallegos Chiriboga updated the Conference regarding the work of the Group and informed States about his intention to be active during the intersessional period between the 2013 and the 2014 session of the Conference.
On 10 September 2013, addressing the Conference one more time, Mr. Tokayev referred to the establishment of such Informal Working Group as a step, however small, in the right direction that could help to lay the foundation for a new shared understanding of how the Conference on Disarmament could resume substantive work. Mr. Tokayev also stressed that it would be important that the Group be given the opportunity to continue its work next year.
The Conference’s annual report (CD/WP.576/Rev.1 and CD/WP.576/Amend.1), which will be presented to the sixty-eighth session of the General Assembly of the United Nations when it opens on 17 September 2013, notes that throughout the 2013 session successive Presidents of the Conference conducted intensive consultations with a view to reaching consensus on a programme of work. During plenary meetings, delegations expressed views on the issue of a programme of work, accounting for relevant proposals and suggestions. However, the Conference notes that despite efforts it had not succeed in reaching consensus on a programme of work. At the initiative of successive Presidents of the Conference, substantive discussions on all agenda items were held. The Conference also held a number of plenary meetings devoted to the revitalization of its work.
The adopted agenda (CD/1946) included seven issues: cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament; prevention of nuclear war including all matters related thereto; prevention of an arms race in outer space; effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use, or threat of use, of such weapons; new types and systems of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons, including radiological weapons; a comprehensive program of disarmament; and transparency in armaments. The agenda was adopted with the understanding that if a consensus emerged to address any questions whatsoever, that issue could be addressed as part of the agenda.
During its 2013 session the Conference heard addresses by high-level dignitaries, including the Foreign Ministers and other dignitaries of several States and the United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Angela Kane.
The next session of the Conference on Disarmament begins on 20 January 2014, and will be divided into three parts: from 20 January to 28 March, from 12 May to 27 June and from 28 July to 12 September. Details and documents can be found on its webpage and press releases for all public meetings of the 2013 session are available here.
For use of the information media; not an official record