Conference on Disarmament Continues to Seek Agreement on its Draft Annual Report
The Conference on Disarmament today continued to seek agreement on its draft annual report to the General Assembly under the Presidency of Ambassador Frank Tressler of Chile.
At the beginning of the morning meeting, Ambassador Tressler welcomed members of the United Nations Disarmament Fellowship Programme, and hoped their visit would be useful and informative. He said that the revised draft annual report of the Conference (CD/WP.636/Rev.2) to the General Assembly had been distributed yesterday, with changes made in track mode. Paragraph 6 had a new sentence recognising the address of Tatiana Valovaya, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva and Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament, on 6 August. Paragraph 12 remained the same as in the first revision. He thanked delegations for their flexibility. Paragraph 23 had required quite a lot of attention. He had not managed to put in it everything that all delegations wanted, however, he had tried to present the paragraph in the best way to reflect the interests of parties. Concerning the words “draft decision” and “consensus”, he was trying to find the best way to satisfy everyone. He urged delegations to avoid going into further discussions on this paragraph. Not everyone would be happy with it but it reflected what was discussed. There had been other changes. He suggested that the Conference now conclude its paragraph by paragraph discussion on the draft annual report.
In the discussion, one speaker said that paragraph 6 was linked to paragraph 23 and wanted to keep it open. Another speaker said that his delegation was not happy about how paragraph 12 was drafted, adding that it was clear that the names of countries needed to be mentioned. A number of speakers addressed paragraph 23, noting that while it did not contain everything they had hoped for, in the spirit of compromise, they could join consensus on it. They said it now contained the absolute minimum that they could accept. They praised the President’s transparency and exemplary attitude in dealing with this difficult and delicate process. The President praised these speakers for their flexibility and constructive approach.
One speaker said that while his delegation was also ready to show flexibility and to work to find the best possible way to reflect the work of the Conference in the report, the current version of paragraph 23 was not something that they could accept. They had sent the second revision of the draft annual document to their capital and could not agree on it until they received a response from the capital. Their preliminary position was the they could not accept documents CD/22/21 and CD/22/18 as official documents of the Conference on Disarmament. They also believed that it was inappropriate to use the word “consensus” in paragraph 23. A number of other paragraphs should be amended as well.
In response, a number of speakers said that the right of any delegation to put forward any document to the Conference on the record was not a matter of debate. There were two ways to proceed, either to bring a number of delegations together to try to resolve this issue, or to move into an informal meeting to try and resolve the issue. The third option was not to have a report. Speakers urged all delegations to be flexible and constructive.
The President suspended the meeting. He resumed the meeting shortly before 1 a.m. to close the meeting, adding that they would resume their work at 3 p.m. and would circulate a new version of paragraph 23 to see if they could achieve agreement on it.
Speaking in the discussion in the morning meeting were representatives of Canada, United States, Australia, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Morocco, Cuba, India, Syria, Iran, Australia, China, Netherlands, Indonesia and Republic of Korea.
Starting the afternoon meeting, Ambassador Tressler thanked all delegations for the flexibility they had shown. They had shown the ability to conduct a dialogue despite their disagreements. He read out the revised paragraph 23. After another break for consultations, another revised paragraph 23 was read out. The President said if everybody could live with this, the next step now was to go ahead on the understanding that nothing was agreed upon until everything was agreed. Mr. Tressler then started reading the draft annual report paragraph by paragraph.
A number of delegations said they had to send the new version of paragraph 23 to their capitals for clearance. The President urged delegations to approve the very fine balance in paragraph 23, as the alternative was going to the General Assembly with no annual report.
Speaking in the afternoon plenary was Iran, Russian Federation, Algeria, United States, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Brazil, Algeria, Cuba, Pakistan, Australia and Spain.
After going through the draft annual report paragraph by paragraph, Ambassador Tressler requested delegations that were awaiting instructions on certain paragraphs to see if they could receive them this evening so that the Conference could conclude its work today. Following a short break, the Conference resumed its formal plenary and after more discussions, one delegation proposed new wording for paragraph 23.
Finally, Ambassador Tressler said that although they were very close, they had not been able to reach agreement on the draft annual report today. He asked delegations to return to their capitals so that when they met on Friday, 10 September, they would be able to reach consensus on (CD/WP.636/Rev.3), which would be circulated on 8 September. Time was running out. If they could not approve the draft report, there would be no annual report.
The Conference will next meet in public plenary on Friday, 10 September, the last day of the third and last part of its 2021 session. The exact hour will be communicated by the secretariat.