CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT CONCLUDES ITS 2020 SESSION
The Conference on Disarmament today concluded the third and last part of its 2020 session. The first part of the session was held from 20 January to 27 March, the second part from 25 May to 10 July, and the third part started on 3 August.
From 10 March to 30 June, the Australian and Austrian Presidencies of the Conference were unable to convene plenary meetings due to the restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Subsequently, the United Nations Secretariat was able to provide teleconference systems, within the limits of available resources, to allow the convening of plenary meetings in a hybrid format, with delegates participating both in person and remotely.
The Presidency of the Conference rotates among its Member States according to the English alphabetical order, with each President holding office for four working weeks. Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh and Belarus held the Presidency of the Conference during 2020.
On 28 January 2020, Tatiana Valovaya, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva and Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament, delivered a message on behalf of António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General, which noted that the world entered 2020 with uncertainty and insecurity all around. One of the most significant drivers of this unease was the atrophying state of the disarmament instruments, institutions and aspirations. Landmark arms control instruments that maintained stability and created the conditions for reduced reliance on nuclear weapons had been abandoned. A new arms competition was quickly filling the void. In the absence of strengthened regimes for building trust and confidence, dangerous flashpoints were emerging. Meanwhile, new weapons technologies were moving forward with possibly destabilizing applications. These factors had led to the launch of the Secretary-General’s Agenda for Disarmament and made clear that more must be done to overcome deep divisions that also contributed to the paralysis that had crippled the Conference for the past two decades. That was why the Secretary-General said that he was actively exploring what the United Nations could do to contribute to a new vision for disarmament.
At the beginning of the session, Algeria, President of the Conference on Disarmament, submitted a package containing a draft Presidential statement on improving the functioning of the Conference, a draft proposal for a programme of work for 2020, and a draft decision on the designation of coordinators of subsidiary bodies and a timetable. The Presidency reasoned that the critical interests of Member States were reflected in this package and appealed to all delegations to preserve the vital interest of the Conference at the beginning of the new cycle of work. Following informal discussions, Algeria regretted the lack of consensus on the package, which was the result of a collective effort by the six Presidents of the 2020 session (P6), adding that the package would remain on the table for successive presidencies.
Argentina, as President of the Conference, continued to embrace the collective spirit of the P6 and consultations on the package. The Presidency presented a revised version of the package, but it did not achieve consensus.
At the end of February, the Conference held its High-level Segment, hearing addresses by dignitaries from Algeria, Belgium, Latvia, Republic of Korea, France, Poland, Sweden, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Kazakhstan, Iraq, Finland, Egypt, Cuba, Brazil, Ireland, Qatar, India, Belarus, Croatia, Russia, United Kingdom, Greece, Japan, Romania, Estonia, Iran, Malaysia, Indonesia, Slovenia, South Africa, Venezuela, Sudan and Viet Nam.
During the session, the Conference discussed gender equality and women’s participation in disarmament, based on a non-paper on women and disarmament presented by its Argentinian Presidency, while the Australian Presidency circulated a working paper with a proposal to make the Conference’s rules of procedure gender neutral. The Conference also held a thematic plenary discussion on core agenda items 5, 6 and 7, on new forms of weapons of mass destruction, comprehensive programme of disarmament, and transparency in armaments.
The annual report CD/WP.629/Rev.5 will be available on the webpage of the Conference.
The 2021 session of the Council will be held in three parts :
First Part : 18 January - 26 March
Second Part : 10 May - 25 June
Third part : 26 July - 10 September
Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada and Chile will hold the Presidency of the Conference on Disarmament in 2021.