2008 NPT PrepCom adopts report but not Chair's factual and balanced Summary

10 May 2008
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The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

NPT PrepCom 2008

2008 NPT PrepCom adopts report but not Chair's factual and balanced Summary

May 9, 2008

By Rebecca Johnson

Back to the main page on the NPT

The final session of the 2008 PrepCom for the NPT opened on Friday May 9th, with a minute of silence in remembrance of the end of the 1939-45 War in Europe. It closed just after noon after adopting its "technical" report (containing details about the meeting and the six organisational and funding decisions it took on Tuesday relating to the 2009 and 2010 meetings).

After the minute's silence, the PrepCom Chair, Ukraine's Ambassador in Vienna, Volodyrmyr Yelchenko, quietly remarked that this was not just a reminder of the appalling consequences of war, but a reminder of the responsibility to assure peace and security in the future, saying that the NPT and its review process have an important role and responsibility in contributing towards this. The final morning of the PrepCom was almost an anti-climax. No stand-offs or fireworks, though the US, Iran and Syria maintained their combative carping to the end. To the disappointment of many states and representatives of civil society, who had been impressed with the balance and accuracy of the Chair's very substantive factual summary, opposition from a few delegations meant that the Chair did not obtain consensus for annexing his summary to the report, as provided for in the review conference decisions taken in 2000. It will instead be issued as a Chair's working paper [http://www.acronym.org.uk/npt/08chair.htm], as happened with the Chair's summary at last year's (2007) PrepCom.

Before the Chair turned to adoption of the PrepCom report, which was taken paragraph by paragraph, the UK Ambassador, John Duncan, read a joint statement from the P-5 Permanent Members of the UN Security Council - China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. [http://www.acronym.org.uk/npt/08p5.htm]

Initiated by Russia and coordinated by the UK, the P-5 had been meeting throughout the PrepCom to try to come up with a joint text. Some may remember the useful role played by joint P-5 statements at the 1995 and 2000 review conferences and several of the PrepComs. However, if memory serves well, for the past eight years the differences between the nuclear weapon states made a joint text impossible. This time, though the dying embers of the Bush administration made some issues very difficult - resulting in omission of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), limiting what could be said on disarmament and overly skewing the focus towards compliance by non-nuclear weapon states - the P-5 succeeded in pulling together an 11-paragraph overview. They only just got in under the wire, reading the statement into the record just before the PrepCom adopted its report.

Chair's Factual Summary

In accordance with decisions taken in 1995 and revised in 2000, the Chair of the first and second PrepComs should "carry out consultations with the states parties to prepare the ground for the outcome of the sessions as well as their agenda" (para 6, "Improving the effectiveness of the strengthened review process for the NPT, Final Document adopted May 2000). "The consideration of the issues at each session of the Preparatory Committee should be factually summarized and its results transmitted in a report to the next session for further discussion." Ambassador Yelchenko quoted from these decisions and reminded delegations that the 2002 and 2003 PrepCom summaries had been annexed to the report; they were not negotiated, but