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Disarmament Diplomacy No. 75, Cover design by Paul Aston

Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 75, January/February 2004

In the News

Hans Blix Launches International Commission on Weapons of Mass Destruction

On December 16, 2003, Dr Hans Blix, the former head of UNMOVIC and the IAEA, launched an international Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission (WMDC), to investigate ways of reducing the dangers from nuclear, biological, chemical and radiological weapons, and their delivery means.

The Commission held its first meeting in Stockholm, January 28-30, 2004. Its final report, containing the Commission's proposals and recommendations, will be presented around the end of 2005.

The Commission comprises 15 members, from a broad geographical and political base. Representing a vast reservoir of expert knowledge and political experience, they will not speak for the countries they come from but serve in their personal capacity, and are expected to contribute their personal analysis, thoughts and proposals to the collective work of the Commission.

The Commissioners are:

Hans Blix (Chair)
Dewi Fortuna Anwar
Alexei Arbatov
Marcos de Azambuja
Alyson K. Bailes
Thérèse Delpech
Jayantha Dhanapala
Gareth Evans
Patricia Lewis
Masashi Nishihara
Pan Zhenqiang
William J. Perry
Vasantha Raghavan
Cheikh Sylla
Prince El Hassan bin Talal

Mandate and Goals: The Commission will have a comprehensive mandate. It will include not only nuclear, biological, chemical and radiological weapons, and the means of delivering them, such as missiles, but also terrorism-related issues in connection with such weapons and delivery means. The Commission is expected to present realistic proposals aimed at the greatest possible reduction of the dangers of weapons of mass destruction, including both short-term and long-term approaches and both non-proliferation and disarmament aspects.

It is expected that in working toward a comprehensive report, the Commission will feel free to adopt separate reports on specific problems and areas, and will seek to stimulate the international debate and give new impulses and energy to the international work against weapons of mass destruction.

The Commission will present its final report to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and to all Governments.

Secretariat: The Commission's Secretariat will be based in Stockholm. It will be independent from the Swedish Government and will receive its instructions from the Commission only, through the Chair, Dr Blix. The Secretariat will be small but will engage with expertise from around the world as instructed or authorised by the Commission or its Chair. Henrik Salander, former Ambassador for Sweden to the Conference on Disarmament and NPT, has been appointed Secretary-General of the Commission and head of the Secretariat.

Independence: Neither the financial support from the Swedish Government nor any other contributions that may be received will in any way be allowed to influence the work or the final report of the Commission, which is fully independent. The Secretariat reports only to the Commission and is independent of all governments in its substantive work.

Work and Outreach: The Commission's work process will be similar, in its main features, to earlier international commissions, such as the Brandt Commission, the Brundtland Commission or the Commission on Human Security. The Commissioners will meet two to three times a year. Between those meetings seminars, hearings and conferences may be arranged in different countries. This will be done in cooperation with relevant institutes and research institutions, from which expert studies may also be commissioned. Outside substantive contributions about future measures to reduce the danger of weapons of mass destruction are welcome from institutions as well as civil society and governments.

The Commission will undertake various outreach activities and involve civil society and non-governmental organisations through presentations, conferences, website and e-mail.

Background: During the 1980s and 1990s, several international commissions focussed on questions of security, including issues related to weapons of mass destruction. These included the Palme Commission, the Commission on Global Governance, the Canberra Commission on the elimination of nuclear weapons and the Tokyo Forum. Several years have gone by since the last of these reported its findings in 1999, and the international situation has changed considerably, not least through the increased risks of mass destruction terrorism.

Against this background, UN Under-Secretary-General Jayantha Dhanapala in 2002 proposed an independent commission on weapons of mass destruction, to be launched and hosted by one or two countries. The late Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh decided that Sweden should take the initiative in convening such a commission. Shortly before her death, she asked Dr Blix to set up and chair the commission.

Source: WMD Commission Information Briefing, Stockholm, December 16, 2003.

For further information, visit the Commission Website at: http://www.wmdcommission.org

Contact: secretariat@wmdcommission.org

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© 2003 The Acronym Institute.