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16 September 2016

The Conference on Disarmament today concluded its 2016 session, after  having adopted, last week, its annual report to the United Nations General Assembly, which will be available here.  

Throughout the 2016 session, the Conference discussed several draft proposed programmes of work, but could 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.  The Conference thus addressed the issue of its methods of work, as well as 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.

In several meetings, the Conference discussed the draft Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Chemical and Biological Terrorism, put forward by the Russian Federation.  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 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 refrain from such actions and rejoin the Six-Party Talks.

The Conference opened its 2016 session on 26 January by hearing a message from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.  In the message, which was delivered by Kim Won-soo, then Acting High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, the Secretary-General regretted the lack of progress achieved by the Conference and its inability to negotiate. As a result, two goals he had outlined almost a decade ago had become more urgent than ever. First, the world must do more to prevent the expansion or the development of nuclear arsenals. The recent nuclear test conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea seriously undermined international non-proliferation efforts, and was a stark reminder of the urgent need to permanently codify the global law against nuclear tests. Second, the international community must accelerate the reduction of existing stockpiles. Without such concrete action, the Conference risked becoming completely marginalized.

On 28 June,  the Conference heard from Kim Won-soo, Under Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.  Mr. Kim stated that the persistent paralysis of the Conference had led many to question the relevance of traditional processes. Addressing issues on the Conference’s agenda outside of the Conference had regrettably become a new normal. It was imperative that an agreement on a programme of work be reached, otherwise there would be more and more demands that alternative forums be found.

The 2016 session of the Conference was presided by Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Poland and the Republic of Korea, each of which held the presidency for four weeks, in line with the rotation principle.

Details and documents related to the 2016 session can be found on the webpage of the Conference, while speaker-by-speaker summaries of all public meetings of the 2016 session are available here.

The 2017 session of the Council will be held in three parts, from 23 January to 31 March, from 15 May to 30 June, and from 31 July to 15 September, under the Presidency of Romania, Russian Federation, Senegal, Slovakia, South Africa and Spain.

For use of the information media; not an official record