Magazine article UN Chronicle

Conference on Disarmament Urged to Speed Work on Chemical Bans

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Conference on Disarmament Urged to Speed Work on Chemical Bans

Article excerpt

As the Conference on Disarmament opened its 1990 session on 6 February, I heard a renewed appeal from Secretary-General javier Perez de Cuellar to intensify negotiations on an international convention banning chemical weapons. Political consensus in 1989 had advanced in the international community on the urgent need to agree on such a document, he said. The Secretary-General told the 40-member Geneva-based body that new opportunities were available to pursue "more meaningful measures in the field of arms limitations and disarmament". The wide spectrum of bilateral and multilateral negotiations under way generated hope that the current trend would become irreversible, allowing the process of disarmament to proceed at a faster pace. A complete ban on nuclear-test explosions, he said, could pave the way to nuclear disarmament and d the world of the nuclear ri menace. The Conference had an irreplaceable role to play in that respect; it could not renounce its responsibilities as to considering issues of nuclear disarmament and prevention of nuclear war. Emeka Ayo Azikiwe of Nigeria, Conference President for March, recalled that over the years several disarmament agreements had been concluded within the multilateral disarmament negotiating forum, all of them in the context of the Conference of the 18-Nation Committee on Disarmament and the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament. The present Conference had not yet been able to achieve similar results. But never since 1962 had there been "a situation so rich in opportunities for successful disarmament negotiations", he declared. During February and March, the Conference re-established four ad hoc committees to deal with issues related to chemical weapons, radiological weapons, prevention of an arms race in outer space and international arrangements to assure non-nuclearweapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. On 29 March, it decided that informal meetings would be held in 1990 on issues related to cessation of the nuclear-arms race and nuclear disarmament, and prevention of nuclear war. President Azlkiwe described those meetings as "a reflection of the beginning of adjustments in the Conference to the new international situation". He had prepared a list of some 20 topics to facilitate a structured discussion at the meetings.

The Conference did not reach agreement on how to deal with the agenda item on a nuclear-test ban.

Sweden again proposed adding an item on prevention of incidents on the high seas. It also favoured negotiations on sea-borne nuclear weapons, naval confidence-building measures and modernization of the laws of sea warfare. Pakistan proposed a new item on the regional dimension of disarmament.

Hendrik Wagenmakers of the Netherlands, President for February, described the unprecedented high number of non-members participating in Conference work as a significant step towards securing universal participation in the elaboration and acceptance of any agreement concluded in the Conference.

The Conference, the world's single forum for multilateral disarmament negotiations, holds a two part session each year, the first part from February through April and the second from june through August. Its ad hoc committees try to elaborate new instruments in the field of arms limitation and disarmament. Finishing touches'

The Ad Hoc Committee on Chemical Weapons, meeting in Geneva from 16 january to 1 February, continued work on a draft convention banning development, production and stockpiling of chemical weapons and calling for their destruction. …

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