Guidelines on Confidence-Building Sent by Disarmament Commission to General Assembly

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Guidelines on confidence-building sent by Disarmament Commission to General Assembly

Draft guidelines for appropriate types of confidence-building measures were approved by the United Nations Disarmament Commission at its 1986 session (New York, 5-23 May). The Commission also took action relating to nuclear and conventional disarmament negotiations and reduction of military budgets, and discussed the United Nations role in the field of disarmament, the naval arms race and South Africa's nuclear capability.

The guidelines for confidence-building measures have been under consideration by the Commission since 1983. During the three-week session, the Commission's Committee of the Whole reached consensus on all but two issues, for which alternative formulations were included in the text, after it appeared, according to the Chairman, that "a further rapprochement of views could not be accomplished at this juncture'.

The draft guidelines are to be forwarded to the General Assembly in the Commission's report (A/41/42), for consideration at the 1986 session.

"The ultimate goal of confidence-building measures', according to the guidelines, "is to strengthen international peace and security and to contribute to the prevention of all wars, in particular nuclear war'. The text states that "confidence-building measures must be neither a substitute nor a pre-condition for disarmament measures, nor divert attention from them, yet their potential for creating favourable conditions for progress in this field should be fully utilized in all regions of the world, in so far as they may facilitate and do not impair in any way the adoption of disarmament measures'.

A centrally important task of confidence-building measures is to reduce the dangers of misunderstanding or miscalculation of military activities, the text indicates. "Given the enhanced awareness of the importance of compliance, confidence-building measures may serve the additional objective of facilitating verification of arms limitation and disarmament agreements.'

The draft suggests that confidence-building measures might be worked out and implemented independently of disarmament measures, to help create favourable conditions for adopting additional disarmament measures, or as collateral measures in connection with specific arms limitation and disarmament measures.

Confidence-building measures should be implemented at the global as well as regional level, the guidelines recommend, affirming that the two approaches would be "complementary and interrelated', rather than contradictory, and that progress on one level could contribute to advancement on the other.

Agreement could not be reached on draft guidelines under the heading "characteristics' of confidence-building. Alternative formulations were offered for paragraphs on the process of confidence-building and exchange of information on security and disarmament issues.

During informal consultations, the question arose whether the draft guidelines should be accompanied by a more specific illustrative catalogue of individual confidence-building measures. Several delegations had submitted proposals in that regard.

The Chairman reported, however, that it appeared from the debates that "no easy answer to the question was possible, since obviously a catalogue of special measures would somehow be in contradiction to the finding in the guidelines that confidence-building measures had to be tailored to specific circumstances, particularly in a regional differentiation'.

Nevertheless, it was felt, he said, that a structured compilation of measures suggested for inclusion in the catalogue would be useful to facilitate later consideration of the issues. An overview in that regard was submitted by the Chairman.

Arms race, nuclear disarmament: The Contact Group established by the Committee of the Whole to consider various aspects of the arms race and nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament with an eye to elaborating a general approach to disarmament negotiations was unable to reach consensus on a complete set of recommendations. …

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