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Disarmament Diplomacy, Cover design by Paul Aston

Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 65, July - August 2002

Dhanapala Call for International Commission on WMD

In a speech delivered at the University of Waterloo, Canada, on May 18, Jayantha Dhanapala, UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, called for the establishment of an International Commission on Weapons of Mass Destruction. Dhanapala reasoned:

"Based on the fine work of the Palme, Carnegie, and Canberra Commissions in the field of international peace and security, I believe that a commission approach to disarmament questions still offers interesting possibilities for progress in the years ahead. I think it is time for the international community to consider the establishment of a new International Commission on Weapons of Mass Destruction.

The new commission should, first of all, have a mandate that covers nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons - the three weapons of mass destruction that the NPT, BWC, and CWC have specifically targeted for total elimination. The mandate should explicitly extend to both non-proliferation and disarmament - one cannot be sacrificed for the other without losing credibility. It would also cover possible terrorist uses of such weapons and specific multilateral, regional, plurilateral, or national strategies - including unilateral initiatives - to address such threats. ...

The Commission's report could serve as both a call to action and a useful and authoritative instrument for governments and NGOs alike to use in advocating greater progress on disarmament. It would come out in time to help ensure that the NPT Review Conference of 2005 would not result in a failure that would jeopardize the treaty itself. If launched this fall, the report could be out in time for the opening of the 58th Session of the General Assembly. It could also develop some ideas on how to move forward in developing new international approaches to verify compliance with the BWC. It could explore new approaches to expedite the entry into force of the CTBT. It could provide a roadmap on how to deal with the threats of WMD terrorism without yielding to over-reaction or panic. And it could identify other ways and means to ensure a future for the human species in a WMD-free environment."

Related material on Acronym website:

Report: 'The Canberra Commission - lessons learned for a future Commission', speech by Jayantha Dhanapala, UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, 'The Ideas-Institutional Nexus', Conference co-hosted by the University of Waterloo and the United nations University, Waterloo, Canada, May 18.

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© 2002 The Acronym Institute.