14 February 2018
The Conference on Disarmament this afternoon continued the debate on the establishment of subsidiary bodies to discuss the agenda items with a view to progressively advance the substantive work of the Conference.
The draft decision (CD/WP.605), presented on 13 February, proposed the establishment of five subsidiary bodies: four bodies on agenda items one to four, and the fifth one on agenda items five, six and seven, and on emerging and other issues relevant to the Conference. The subsidiary bodies would work to deepen the technical discussions and progressively broaden areas of agreement through the participation, in accordance with the rules of procedure, of relevant experts and representatives of civil society. The summary of the presentation of the draft decision and the subsequent discussion is available here.
The President of the Conference, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha of Sri Lanka, presenting the revised draft decision (CD/WP.605/Rev.1), explained that it attempted to incorporate comments heard during the discussion on 13 February. The proposed text was a result of a delicate balance between diverging or even opposite views on the modalities to take forward the work of the Conference, said the President.
In the ensuing discussion, delegations acknowledged the difficulty in adopting a balanced programme of work and noted that the draft decision was a well-balanced document based on the outcomes of the activities of the Way Ahead Working Group that had operated in 2017. There was a concern that the draft decision would substitute the development and adoption of a programme of work, and that it would put the sustainability of the basic tenets of the Conference and its rules of procedure in question. Another issue was the potential of the draft decision to institutionalize the deliberative exercise in which the crucial negotiating mandate of the Conference would be lost: “If the Conference on Disarmament is not negotiating, it is not fulfilling its mandate”, a delegate emphasized.
Several delegations presented amendments to the draft text, warning caution about the concept of “progressive approach” and noting that the “possible legal instruments for negotiations” represented a contested ground. Text on the participation of civil society in the work of the Conference was addressed in the proposed amendments as well, while some delegations questioned the validity of the draft decision for subsequent years and proposed that the decision remained valid in 2018 only.
Mexico spoke on behalf of the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL), and said that the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean - Treaty of Tlatelolco, commemorated its fifty-first anniversary this year. It had created the first nuclear-weapons-free-zone in a densely populated area; as such, it was a political, legal and institutional reference for the creation of other nuclear-weapons-free-zones. Militarily denuclearized zones did not constitute an end in themselves, but rather a highly relevant intermediary step towards the realization of nuclear disarmament. Mexico emphasized OPANAL’s concern over the resumption of nuclear tests, programmes for the modernization of nuclear arsenals, the potential creation of new types of nuclear weapons delivery systems and by the growing threat of possible use of nuclear weapons amid tensions, armed conflict and terrorism threats, particularly when many of nuclear weapons States were on high alert status.
The Conference also discussed the timeline towards the final version of the draft.
Speaking in the discussions were Belarus, Egypt, Mexico, Iran, Cuba, Republic of Korea, Russia, and China.
The Conference on Disarmament will next meet in public on Friday, 16 February at 10 a.m.
For use of the information media; not an official record