Verification, Naval Disarmament Discussed by 1987 Disarmament Commission

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Verification, naval disarmament discussed by 1987 Disarmament Commission

ISSUES RELATED TO verification and to naval armaments and disarmament were among major topics dealt with by the Disarmament Commission at its 1987 session (4-29 May, New York). Chairman Dimiter Kostov of Bulgaria, at the opening meeting, called for the surrender of old political thinking, which was trying to "drag into the nuclear age the outmoded criteria of yesteryear when all problems were solved by force of arms.' New means must be found for establishing a comprehensive system of international peace and security, he said. The Disarmament Commission should be strengthened and fully used to accomplish "more tangible results on a number of significant issues'.

The 159-member Commission, the General Assembly's deliberative body on disarmament, this year discussed seven substantive issues with a view to recommending action by the Assembly. In addition to verification, a new agenda item, and naval disarmament, five other subjects were considered: conventional disarmament, also a new item; various aspects of the arms race, in particular the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament; the role of the United Nations in the field of disarmament; reduction of military budgets; and South Africa's nuclear capability.

A Commission working group, chaired by Douglas Roche of Canada, concluded that verification was "a critically important element in the negotiation and implementation of arms limitation and disarmament', and that the United Nations had an important role to play in the context of verification of compliance with arms limitation and disarmament agreements.

It agreed that basic principles regarding verification in the 1978 Final Document of the first special session of the General Assembly on disarmament should be elaborated upon and added to in order to gain the benefits of experience accrued since July 1978. During its discussions, it formulated a list of 10 "agreed points' that could be included in new or expanded principles.

The Commission recommended that its work on verification continue in 1988 "as a matter of critical importance' in the negotiation and implementation of arms limitation and disarmament, with a view to elaborating concrete recommendations and proposals, including principles, provisions and techniques to promote the inclusion of adequate verification in such agreements.

Further discussion next year was also recommended regarding measures for naval arms limitation and disarmament and the desirability of applying confidence-building measures at sea. These matters were discussed in open-ended consultations conducted by Ali Alatas of Indonesia, acting as a "Friend of the Chairman'.

The possibility of negotiating a multilateral agreement concerning prevention of incidents at sea beyond the territorial sea, in addition to existing agreements, was suggested. Such an agreement, it was stated, should be formulated to respond to the needs of all interested nations for enhancing safety at sea without diminishing traditional freedom of navigation.

Verification: The working group on verification considered a paper submitted by its Chairman and a variety of other proposals on the subject.

It stated it supported Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar's view that the Organization's ability to assist in verification and compliance arrangements should be explored.

A compilation of methods, procedures and techniques including those which formed part of existing arms limitation and disarmament agreements, could be useful in facilitating consideration of verification as an integral part of arms limitation and disarmament negotiations, it stated. Such a catalogue would be illustrative and would "exemplify the range and scope of methods, procedures and techniques applicable to verification of compliance,' the working group stated. The Disarmament Commission could further examine the format and expense of such a compilation. …