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Conference on Disarmament (CD)

CD BULLETIN, August 23, 2001

By Jenni Rissanen


Ambassador Ambassador Roberto Betancourt Ruales of Ecuador chaired the Conference on Disarmament (CD) for first time since assuming the presidency this week. After Betancourt made his opening statement to this 883rd CD plenary, Belgium announced details of a meeting to discuss progress towards implementing the Ottawa Landmines Convention.

Plenary Proceedings

Betancourt said Equador was taking over the CD presidency for the first time since it was admitted to the CD in 1999. Equador had joined the CD believing that a nuclear weapons free world was "not only a dream but an urgent necessity", and in the hope that the Conference would "be able to take care of the security requirements of all states and especially safeguard the rights" of non-nuclear-weapon states (NNWS). Betancourt told delegates that Equador supported "the intensification and irreversibility" of the nuclear disarmament process and had taken active part in the preparations of the Treaty of Tlatelolco that declared Latin America a nuclear-weapon-free zone (NWFZ).

Betancourt added that the CD had "a very clear mandate to promote and preserve international peace and security through the elimination of nuclear weapons and arms reduction and control". Speaking of a "climate of stagnation", he confessed he did not expect any changes in the near term, acknowledging that, to a great extent, the overall international strategic security situation "still appear[ed]… to determine progress towards any kind of consensus". Given the short time left before this year's session concludes (September 14), Betancourt believed the CD could only now hope to "prepare the ground" for next year. He would continue to seek for agreement on a programme of work, using the Amorim proposal1 as the basis for his consultations. Furthermore, as suggested by the former CD president, Ambassador Carlos Amat Forés of Cuba, he would try to ensure the continuation of the work of the three special coordinators on the Conference's agenda, membership, and reform of working methods. It was "evident", however, that this work could in "no way" replace the CD's main purpose of negotiating disarmament agreements.

Ambassador Jean Lint of Belgium announced that Zimbabwe and Belgium were organising, together with Nicaragua, an information meeting to discus the upcoming Third Conference of State Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (Ottawa Convention), to be held in Managua from 18 to 21 September 2001. The meeting will take place on 29 August. Lint noted that 118 states parties had so far ratified or acceded to the Convention, while a total of 140 states parties had signed.

The next plenary will be exceptionally be held on Tuesday, August 28, 2001 at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, chaired by Ambassador Roberto Betancourt Ruales of Ecuador. The Special Coordinator on improved and effective functioning of the Conference, Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam (Sri Lanka), and the Special Coordinator for the expansion of the Conference, Ambassador Petko Draganov (Bulgaria), will present their respective reports to the Conference at this meeting.


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.