A Catalyst to Spur Further Positive Action; Guidelines for Confidence-Building, Verification Focus of Work of Disarmament Commission

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Draft guidelines for confidence-building measures and recommendations on verification in all its aspects were elaborated by the UN Disarmament Commission at its 1988 session (New York, 2-20 May). Some progress was also madc on principles related to reduction in military budgets and recommendations on nuclear issues and South Africa's nuclear capability

Commission Chairman Davidson L. Hepburn of the Bahamas hoped that the successes achieved at the session would "serve as a catalyst to spur further positive action" at the third special Assembly on disarmament, which it preceded by only a few days.

In a report to the special session (AIS-15/3), the Commission reviewed its activities since 1982 and also described its work related to the role of the UN in disarmament matters, naval armaments and disarmament, and conventional weapons, as well as other issues previously considered.

The 159-member Commission was created by the first special session of the General Assembly on disarmament held in 1978 to follow up on recommendations made in its Final Document and to make its own annual recommendations to the Assembly on disarmament problems. Not a substitute or pre-condition

In the confidence-building text, the Commission said these measures must b"neither a substitute nor a prc-condition for disarmament measures nor divert attention from them". Objectives should include: strengthening international peace and security, preventing all wars, creating favourable conditions for the peaceful settlement of existing disputes, and eliminating causes of mistrust, fear, misunderstanding and miscalculation regarding relevant military activities and intentions of other States.

Confidence-building required consensus of States participating in the process and was a step-by-step process involving measures expressing political commitments and of military significance to strengthen confidence and to lessen tension, the guidelines stated. …