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Conference on Disarmament (CD)

CD BULLETIN, August 16, 2001

By Jenni Rissanen


Ambassador Carlos Amat Forés of Cuba chaired the 882nd meeting of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) for the final time before handing over the presidency to Equador next week. Bulgaria's Ambassador Petko Draganov made a farewell statement.

Plenary Proceedings

Petko Draganov, who was appointed as the special coordinator on the CD's expansion a few weeks ago, bid his farewell to the CD as Bulgaria's Ambassador. Draganov recalled his first appearance in the CD: the day the Conference adopted a decision to establish an ad hoc committee to negotiate a ban of the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. Draganov said he had not quite grasped the importance of the decision at the time but - after three years of deadlock - "knew better now". The Ambassador stated that although he had found his consultations as the special coordinator on the CD's expansion at times frustrating, he had been "immensely enriched" by the experience.

Ambassador Amat made his last remarks as CD president. He said he had "no spectacular announcement" for the CD, instead reconfirming that the Amorim proposal1 still enjoyed "a wide measure of support as the basis for continuing consultations" to reach agreement on a programme of work. Amat had refrained from suggesting amendments to the proposal because introducing them "without any real prospects for success...would have been a step back instead of a step forward". Amat had tried to "advance some possible formulae for compromise with some major players", but found that there were "no conditions...to agree on a programme of work and move forward on substantive issues". While not wishing to "point accusing fingers", Amat at the same time felt that the truth should not be concealed: certain key countries played "a leading role in the present situation", and that real progress in the CD depending largely on decisions taken by these countries outside the Conference. Turning to the work of the three special coordinators, Amat encouraged the next CD president to consider including a recommendation in the CD's annual report allowing the three special coordinators to continue their work next year: normally, the Conference would not take a position on such matters until the opening of the new annual session.

Amat spoke also in a national capacity as the Cuban Ambassador. Cuba was concerned that the "inflexible positions of some countries" prevented the CD from making headway in nuclear disarmament and the prevention of an arms race in outer space. Amat also expressed wider concern about the rise of unilateralism, saying that "recent examples such as the case of the Kyoto Protocol, the preservation of the ABM Treaty, the program of action of the UN Conference on Small Arms and Light Weapons, the negotiations on the Verification Protocol to the Convention on Biological Weapons among others, show that unless we do something in time we will run the risk of allowing unilateralism based on power to prevail and carry the day in the world." For Cuba, multilateralism was of "key importance" and "should be preserved at all costs". Amat went on to say that the international community could not "remain indifferent or unconcerned given the real possibility that some powerful countries might even feel comfortable taking decisions, which affect us all in the field of disarmament, outside the multilateral forum, particularly the Conference on Disarmament". Amat stressed the role of non-governmental organizations and the media in this context, saying that "international public opinion should be aware of the risks that we all run and [the fact that] we need to act in order to avoid them".

The next plenary will be held on August 23, 2001 at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, chaired by Ambassador Roberto Betancourt Ruales of Ecuador.


1. The Amorim proposal (CD/1624, August 24, 2000) recommends the establishment of four ad hoc committees: one each to "deal with" nuclear disarmament and PAROS, one to negotiate a ban on the production of fissile materials, based on a specific mandate agreed in 1995, and one, with a broader mandate, to negotiate on negative security assurances (NSA). For further details and analysis, see Jenni Rissanen, Geneva Update, Disarmament Diplomacy No. 50, September 2000.

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 Geneva Update in Disarmament Diplomacy No. 58.

© 2001 The Acronym Institute.