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The United Nations and the Conference on Disarmament

The Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy focuses principally on the UN First Committee, and any significant developments in the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament (CD). Where appropriate, and within the limits of our resources, we also include some coverage of disarmament questions and developments relating to weapons of mass destruction that come before the UN General Assembly.

Conference on Disarmament (CD)

The Conference on Disarmament is the successor to various Geneva-based arms control bodies dating back to 1960. The CD is regarded as an autonomous body, although it has a close relationship with the United Nations. In March 1995, the CD adopted a mandate to negotiate a ban on the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons, however, negotiations did not start as CD members struggled to adopt a work programme.

Despite being described by the UN in 1978 as the world’s ‘sole disarmament negotiating forum’, the 66-member CD has been paralysed and unable to negotiate anything on its agenda since the CTBT in 1996. In 2009 there was a brief period of optimism when the CD finally agreed a programme of work, but regrettably it was unable to adopt a framework to implement its programme and has remained deadlocked ever since. Since then, the CD has remained deadlocked, in part due to the strict interpretation of consensus in its rules of procedure. Growing frustration has led some (such as this New York Times editorial from April 2011) to call for fissile material negotiations to be moved to an alternative forum “much like the 2008 convention on cluster munitions and the 1997 land-mine treaty”. According to speculations on Global Security Newswire (GSN), such a move appears now to be being seriously considered by the US, UK and France, while UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has voiced his opposition to a move as he views it as potentially damaging the legitimacy of the CD.

Reporting in Disarmament Diplomacy

CD Notes

Compiled by Acronym's Geneva Intern Nafiseh Baeidi.

See also:

Relevant Links

United Nations First Committee

The United Nations First Committee is a subcommittee of the UN General Assembly that deals with disarmament and international security. First Committee meets each autumn comprising all UN member states. The Acronym Institute attends and provides coverage from First Committee where possible but has been unable to do so since 2009.

UN First Committee and General Assembly, 64th Sessions, September - December 2009

Acronym Institute Senior Associate Carol Naughton attended the UN First Committee in New York. Her observations and comments can be read below:

US President Obama made his debut speech to the UN General Assembly on 23 September 2009.

For background information on the 2008 First Committee see:

The UN's official website on the General Assembly is at: and the site for the First Committee is at: In addition UN press releases covering the First Committee can be viewed at

Details of speeches from the First Committee are available from Reaching Critical Will at:

See also: Acronym Institute coverage of previous sessions of the UN First Committee.

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