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15 September 2017

The Conference on Disarmament has concluded its 2017 session, which was held from 23 January to 31 March; 15 May to 30 June; and 31 July to 15 September 2017.

During the session, the Presidency of the Conference was successively assumed by Romania, Russian Federation, Senegal, Slovakia, South Africa and Spain, each of which held the Presidency for four weeks, in line with the rotation principle.

The Conference adopted on 14 September its annual report to the United Nations General Assembly, which will be available here.

According to the annual report, throughout the 2017 session, the Conference held 25 plenary meetings and five informal plenary meetings, during which it discussed draft programmes of work, which were proposed by the Presidents, but it did not reach consensus on any of them. As in previous years, the Conference adopted a calendar of activities, which allowed it to hold informal debates on its core agenda items.

On 17 February, the Conference established a working group on the “way ahead” under the chairmanship of Ambassador Htin Lynn of Myanmar, to take stock of the progress on all agenda items of the Conference, identify issues for substantive work under the agenda taking into account the efforts and priorities of the international community, and identify common ground for a programme of work with a negotiating mandate. The Conference thus addressed all seven items on its agenda: cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament; prevention of nuclear war, including all related matters; 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 nuclear weapons; new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons, radiological weapons; comprehensive programme of disarmament; and transparency in armaments. The “way ahead” working group held 24 meetings as per the timetable established by the Chair in consultation with the President of the Conference. The Conference on Disarmament adopted the final report of the working group on the “way ahead” on 29 August 2017.

The Conference opened its 2017 session on 24 January by hearing a message from the new United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, delivered by Michael Møller, Secretary-General of the Conference and Director General of the United Nations Office at Geneva. Secretary-General Guterres expressed his resolve to actively pursue the abolition of all weapons of mass destruction and the strict regulation of conventional weapons, and stressed that the world looked to the Conference, as the sole multilateral disarmament negotiating body, to provide rationality and diplomatic solutions, to promote security through peaceful action, and to create the instruments needed to develop confidence, trust and international stability. The High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Kim Won-soo also spoke at the opening of Conference and stressed that if the Conference was to maintain its role, it had to resume work on the basis of a comprehensive and balanced programme. It remained essential to eliminate the gap between “nuclear haves” and “nuclear have-nots”.

In February and March, the Conference held a high-level segment, hearing from a number of dignitaries, including Foreign Ministers. In several meetings, the Conference discussed the continued and increasingly frequent ballistic missile launches and the nuclear tests conducted by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, with most Member States condemning those acts and asking the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to halt the provocations and the violation of several United Nations Security Council resolutions.

On the initiative of the Russian Federation, the Conference held an informal plenary on 22 February dedicated to the 110th anniversary of the Second Hague Conference of Peace.

Izumi Nakamitsu, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, addressed the Conference on 12 September and said that the key question was whether the States wanted to protect the machinery called the Conference on Disarmament by finding ways to compromise and return to substantive work, or they wished to increasingly innovate and make use of other mechanisms and processes that would tackle a given priority disarmament issue. Resolving this question had become an urgent matter, as the peace and security architecture was struggling to keep up with the implications of the emerging military capabilities and technology.

The Conference heard from Ahmed Uzumco, Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on 5 September, who spoke on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the Chemical Weapons Convention which was negotiated in the Conference on Disarmament.

Details and documents related to the 2017 session can be found on the webpage of the Conference, while speaker-by-speaker summaries of all public meetings of the 2017 session are available here.

The 2018 session of the Council will be held in three parts, from 22 January to 30 March, from 14 May to 29 June, and from 30 July to 14 September under the Presidency of Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey.

For use of the information media; not an official record