Conference on Disarmament (CD)
CD BULLETIN, June 21 and 22, 2001
By Jenni Rissanen
The 878th meeting of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) was chaired by Ambassador Camilo Reyes Rodriguez of Colombia. Belgium announced details of a meeting of the Ottawa Landmines Convention. Reyes suspended the meeting on Thursday to complete consultations on the three special coordinators agreed last week. The meeting reconvened on Friday morning, enabling the CD to appoint the coordinators.
Belgium announced that, together with Zimbabwe, it would be hosting an information meeting on June 27 to discuss and share views on the 3rd Conference of States Parties to the Ottawa Convention, scheduled for Managua, Nicaragua, on September 18-21 this year. Belgium also informed the Conference that 140 states had so far signed the Convention, with 117 having ratified or acceded to it.
Ambassador Reyes informed the CD of an official communication from the Defense Minister of Estonia, Mr. Juri Luik, containing a request for admission of Estonia as a full member of the Conference. He said this brought the total number of states requesting admission for full membership in the Conference to 22.
Reyes then suggested that the meeting be suspended until the following morning. The requested delay, he explained, was because his consultations indicated the Conference was "just about a few hours away" from being able to appoint the special coordinators.
When the meeting resumed, Reyes announced that the consultations had been successfully completed and that the CD stood ready to take a decision. The CD duly appointed Ambassador Günther Seibert (Germany) as the special coordinator on the CD's agenda; Ambassador Petko Draganov (Bulgaria) as the special coordinator on the CD's membership; and Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam (Sri Lanka) as the special coordinator on the CD's "improved and effective" functioning. Reyes characterized the decision as a "modest but significant step forward".
Turkey took the floor on behalf of the Western Group, noting that the group had "demonstrated a certain degree of flexibility" in the consultations on the appointments. Ambassador Murat Sungar said he hoped the other groupings would "be able to approach matters in a less rigid manner", as "none of the issues we deal or intend to deal within the CD can be regarded as the permanent responsibility of any one geographical group". This statement was understood to be aimed at the Group of 21 (non-aligned countries), which has traditionally held the special coordinator's post on the CD's functioning. Its desire to do so again evidently caused some dissatisfaction in, and sparked this reaction from, the Western Group.
The next plenary will be held on June 28, 2001 at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, and will be chaired by Ambassador Carlos Amat Forés of Cuba. The second part of the 2001 session ends next week.
To see the speeches, please visit the website of WILPF at http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/cd/thisweek/thisweekindex.html
Jenni Rissanen is the Acronym Institute's Analyst attending the CD in Geneva. For her latest, in-depth assessment of developments see Disarmament Diplomacy No. 57.
© 2001 The Acronym Institute.