Egypt Cites Lack of Political Will among Some Delegations, as United Kingdom Voices Reservation over Language on Legally Binding Instruments
Following three weeks of deliberations, the Disarmament Commission reached consensus today on the draft report it would send to the General Assembly and on the reports of its subsidiary bodies, as it concluded its 2017 substantive session.
Kim Won-soo, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, noted the Commission’s adoption of the report of its working group on practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons, and said that today marked a momentous and happy day for the Commission and for the entire United Nations disarmament machinery. Today’s agreement had broken a nearly two-decade-old deadlock and brought life to what had been believed to be an irreparably broken system, he said. The consensus was a very positive and significant development, not just for the Commission, but also for the millions or people affected by armed violence around the world, he added.
He went on to say that efforts to promote measures for military restraint would promote common security and foster an environment conducive to reducing vulnerability. Noting that the modern world was one of new and old conflicts that formed a complex and interconnected web, he said the measures adopted today would help untangle it, adding that 2017 would be a critical year for disarmament. By breaking the deadlock, Member States had helped to set a positive tone for the rest of the year’s events, including the next process — the nuclear non‑proliferation review cycle.
Before concluding the session, delegates approved the Commission’s draft report to the Assembly by consensus — after examining each section — as well as the reports of its two working groups.
Wilmer Alfonzo Méndez Graterol (Venezuela), Chair of Working Group 1, introduced that panel’s draft report on recommendations for realizing nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. The Working Group had conducted 12 meetings during the session, he said, adding that it had studied various documents, with members working in a good atmosphere and with a positive spirit. However, the Working Group had been unable to reach consensus, he said. Nevertheless, the work already done would form a good basis for continuing deliberations in the future.
Lachezara Stoeva (Bulgaria), Chair of Working Group 2 — on confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons — presented that panel’s report, recalling that it had held 13 meetings, concluding its deliberations by generating substantive recommendations.
The United Kingdom’s representative said he had joined the consensus on confidence-building measures in relation to conventional weapons, but had reservations relating to language on legally binding instruments. The United Kingdom also wised to highlight the importance of politically binding instruments in developing transparency and cooperation, he said, adding that they also enhanced international trust.
Syria’s representative said his delegation had joined the consensus, although it had reservations about the language relating to foreign interference.
Seyed Mohammad Ali Robatjazi (Iran), Commission Rapporteur, tabled the draft report on the session, saying its substantive part included the reports of the two working groups.
Commission Chair Gabriela Martinic (Argentina), said in closing remarks that many challenges had been overcome during the session. “Nobody would have thought that we could have the process we have, one we have to cherish and build on,” she emphasized, describing compromise as the essence of multilateralism.
Egypt’s representative, commending the professionalism of the Working Group Chairs, emphasized the principles of the United Nations Charter, including sovereign equality among all Member States, non-interference in internal affairs, and the inalienable rights of all persons under occupation. While Egypt had joined the consensus on disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, he said, some delegations had demonstrated a lack of political will, thereby hindering the Commission’s efforts. Nevertheless, adopting a non-official document still constituted progress, he stressed, while calling upon nuclear-weapon States to review their position and join the consensus so as to help ensure a world free of nuclear weapons.
The representative of the Unites States described the adoption as a “very positive development” and had been a long time coming, pointing out that the action constituted the Commission’s first consensus outcome since 1999. By engaging actively and constructively, delegates had reaffirmed their commitment to and faith in the culture of consensus within multilateral disarmament bodies, which could make progress through patience and persistence. The United States delegation encouraged the Commission to hold discussions on matters relating to the peaceful uses of outer space, he said.
Also speaking today were representatives of Croatia, Cuba and Pakistan.