For the first time since 1999, the United Nations Disarmament Commission adopted consensus recommendations for transmittal to the General Assembly. The final report of the 2017 Commission contains recommendations on practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms.
The 2017 substantive session of the Commission was chaired by Gabriela Martinic (Argentina).
The adoption of substantive recommendations marks a significant achievement for the Disarmament Commission, which is deliberative in nature and universal in its membership. Against the backdrop of a continued stalemate in the Conference in Disarmament, the positive outcome of the Commission is a welcome success for the United Nations disarmament machinery as a whole.
Addressing the closing of the session, Mr. Kim Won-soo, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, noted, “Today is a momentous and happy day for the Disarmament Commission and the United Nations disarmament machinery. In reaching substantive agreement you have broken a nearly two-decade old deadlock and helped to breathe life into what many considered an irreparably moribund process”.
Recommendations in the field of conventional weapons were last adopted in 1999 on the subject “Guidelines on conventional arms control/limitation and disarmament, with particular emphasis on consolidation of peace in the context of General Assembly resolution 51/45 N” (A/54/42).
The practical confidence-building measures recommended by the 2017 session underscore the importance of disarmament measures for the maintenance and enhancement of regional and international peace and security. The recommendations acknowledge the benefit of confidence-building measures to, inter alia, defusing tensions, promoting cooperation among States, enhancing dialogue and greater transparency and promoting progress in conventional disarmament and arms control. The Commission recommends that States consider measures such as periodic exchange of information and notifications; enhancement of cooperation, including through financial and technical assistance; and support to seminars and workshops that promote transparency, dialogue and awareness-raising.
The 2017 substantive session deliberated in two working groups: “Recommendations for achieving the objective of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons”; and “Recommendations for practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons”. The former was unable to reach consensus on a substantive outcome.
In an effort to consider a possible new subject of deliberation for future sessions, the Commission held informal meetings on: “Practical implementation of transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities with the goal of preventing an arms race in outer space”. These informal meetings were convened in accordance with General Assembly resolution 71/82 and based on the recommendations contained in the report of the relevant Group of Governmental Experts (A/68/189).
Text by Katherine Prizeman