The Disarmament Commission elected the Chair and five Vice-Chairs for its 2018 substantive session today and added two substantive items — focusing on recommendations for achieving nuclear disarmament and preventing an arms race in outer space — to the agenda of its new three-year cycle.
Acting by acclamation during an organizational meeting ahead of its 2 to 20 April substantive session, the Commission elected Gillian Bird (Australia) as Chair. Upon assuming her post, she commended Gabriela Martinic (Argentina) for her leadership of the 2017 substantive session. She also thanked the Bureau, Chairs of the Working Groups and delegations for their constructive spirit and cooperation during the previous session which, she said, made it possible for the Commission to overcome 17 years of impasse and unanimously agree on a set of recommendations in the Working Group on conventional weapons.
Noting that the Commission’s new three-year cycle would — unusually — lead right up to the 2020 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the Chair encouraged delegations to consider making the most of the opportunity to contribute to that entity’s outcomes.
She added that the Commission could also set the tone for the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament that would be held in mid‑May in New York, and that optimism among Commission delegations could have a positive influence on the work of the Conference on Disarmament, the international community’s single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum, which meets in Geneva.
The Commission went on to elect Bassem Hassan (Egypt), Mustapha Abbani (Algeria), Nirupam Dev Nath (Bangladesh), Surendra Thapa (Nepal) and Volodymyr Leschenko (Ukraine) as Vice-Chairs by acclamation. Diedre Mills (Jamaica) was elected Rapporteur, also by acclamation. Regarding filling three remaining Bureau vacancies, the Chair appealed to the relevant regional groups to finalize consultations to enable the Commission to begin its substantive work as scheduled.
Turning to its provisional agenda, the Commission adopted by consensus two substantive agenda items: recommendations for achieving the objective of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, and — in accordance with the recommendations contained in the report of the Group of Governmental Experts on Transparency and Confidence-building Measures in Outer Space Activities (document A/68/189) — preparation of recommendations to promote the practical implementation of transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities with the goal of preventing an arms race in outer space.
Several delegations took the floor with comments on whether the Commission should conduct informal discussions on conventional weapons during one or two meetings held in reserve, similar to the format of those held on outer space in 2016 and 2017. In the absence of consensus, the Chair said further informal consultations on that matter would be held.
The Disarmament Commission will reconvene on Monday, 2 April, to take up unfinished organizational business and to begin its substantive session.