The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met for a brief organizational meeting today, approving its agenda and work programme for the seventy‑sixth session of the General Assembly.
Adapting its traditional working methods to COVID-19 restrictions in place since the seventy‑fifth session, the Committee will hold a blend of in‑person meetings at Headquarters and virtual interactive dialogues. Delegates unable to attend the in‑person general and thematic debate segments have been invited to submit pre‑recorded video statements.
Omar Hilale (Morocco), Committee Chair, outlined the programme of work, beginning with the general debate, to be held from 4 to 12 October and covering all agenda items related to disarmament and international security. Resuming its thematic debate segment, which was not held during the seventy‑fifth session due to pandemic‑related restrictions, he said the Committee has allocated seven meetings to be held from 13 to 22 October, during which it will hear the introduction for consideration of all related draft resolutions and decisions. The themes will be nuclear weapons, other weapons of mass destruction, disarmament aspects of outer space, conventional weapons, other disarmament measures and international security, regional disarmament and the disarmament machinery.
The Committee will also convene three two‑hour‑long virtual interactive dialogues during the thematic debates, he continued. On 8 October, it will hold a virtual exchange with the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, including on the follow‑up to resolutions and decisions that the Committee approved during previous sessions. The event will include an exchange with representatives of civil society, he added. On 15 October, the Committee will convene two panel discussions and exchanges with independent experts and high‑level officials, who will make presentations proposed by regional groups.
Focusing on conventional weapons, he said the first panel will feature presentations by the Chairs of the seventh Biennial Meeting of States on the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, and the Group of Governmental Experts on problems arising from the accumulation of conventional ammunition stockpiles in surplus. The second panel, on other disarmament measures and international security, will feature briefings by the Chairs of the Group of Governmental Experts on advancing responsible State behaviour in cyberspace in the context of international security, and the Open‑Ended Working Group on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security.
He said the final virtual dialogue, to be held on 21 October, will feature briefings by the Directors of the three United Nations regional centres for peace and disarmament. Delivering presentations on the disarmament machinery will be the President of the Conference on Disarmament, the Chair of the Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters and the Director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research.
The Committee will take action on all draft resolutions and decisions over the course of five meetings, from 27 October to 3 November, he said, adding that it expects its work to be done by 5 November. It will forward all approved draft resolutions for the General Assembly’s consideration before the end of the main part of the seventy‑sixth session.
Iran’s representative expressed concern ‑ echoed by his counterpart from Cuba and other delegations ‑ about the equal footing of Member States, drawing attention to the question of inclusivity in interactive dialogues. He said the Host Country’s unilateral coercive measures are an obstacle to some countries gaining access to virtual forums. As such, he asked the Chair to examine the situation.
At the meeting’s outset, the Committee elected Andres Fiallo (Ecuador) as Vice‑Chair. The Bureau also comprises Vice‑Chairs Amir Hamzah Mohd Nasir (Malaysia) and Saša Milanović (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Rapporteur Sanna Leena Orava (Finland).
The First Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 4 October, to begin its general debate.