The Conference on Disarmament this morning adopted its 2019 annual report to the General Assembly.
Ambassador Taonga Mushayavanhu of Zimbabwe, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said that it was an honour to be presiding over their last plenary meeting of the 2019 session of the Conference on Disarmament. The annual report that they had just adopted represented a delicate compromise. The consensual spirit that characterised the negotiation of the annual report was instructive. He appealed to members of the Conference not to spoil this conducive atmosphere but to carry it forward to the 2020 session.
As they looked to the future, with a view to resuming substantive work, one important issue that came to mind was that of determining which discussions had reached maturity for negotiations, while at the same time respecting the established principle of balance in the treatment of all core items on the agenda of the Conference. This highly contentious issue could not be postponed forever, warned Mr. Mushayavanhu.
The President said that the Conference was a forum for negotiations, and they should not be afraid to discuss their differences and to negotiate. Zimbabwe firmly believed that they should collectively take decisive measures to address the institutional drift and mandate creep affecting the Conference and bring it back on track. He called on Member States to refrain from politicising the Conference because that had the negative effect of further undermining the credibility of this institution.
At the beginning of the meeting, the President of the Conference said the draft annual report had been provisionally adopted in the last informal meeting on 30 August and he hoped that today they could proceed with its adoption. He read out some editorial observations that had been made. Viet Nam requested a change in the draft report to recognize that upon the invitation of the fifth President of the Conference, the Ambassador of Viet Nam, several dignitaries had addressed the Conference. This would follow the structure of the previous paragraph as well as the formula adopted in previous years. United States said that the draft report had been carefully negotiated and that it preferred to keep the text as it was. Netherlands suggested that as a compromise, they could mention that the invitation came from the fifth President of the Conference for 2019 without mentioning the name. Australia said a compromise could be leaving the text as it was, but adding the invitation letter that Viet Nam had sent to the dignitaries.
The President suggested a 15-minute break. Viet Nam said it had received instructions to make this intervention and hoped that delegations could consider its position. China supported the 15-minute break if they wanted the draft report to be adopted today. Cuba supported Viet Nam’s proposal and the President’s suggestion that they have a short recess. Venezuela supported the proposal of Viet Nam, saying that there must always be respect for the dignity of States and their Ambassadors and no one must be excluded. Algeria supported the recess.
Following the break, the President proposed that paragraph 7 be amended to read that “In letters dated (the dates would be added), the following leaders of regional and international organizations were invited to address the Conference on Disarmament”. He said that the name of Izumi Nakamitsu, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, would be removed from paragraph 7 and would make up the new paragraph 8. The new formulation was provisionally adopted by the Conference. The President then tabled the draft annual report, with these oral revisions.
Venezuela thanked the President for his transparent and constructive efforts, adding that the Conference needed to preserve its rules of procedure in their entirety. In order to overcome the stagnation in the Conference, they needed political will, while political manipulation must be avoided. Venezuela warned that the compromise should in no way be accepted as a precedent. Iran said that the inclusion and the adoption of paragraph 10 should not be interpreted as recognition of Israel.
The draft annual report of the 2019 session of the Conference on Disarmament was then adopted.
Russian Federation said it was organizing an event in the Council Chamber on 6 September at 10 a.m. to inform delegations about the draft resolution that it would present to the First Committee of the General Assembly. India extended its appreciation to the President and congratulated him for the adoption of the report. Russian Federation asked when the President would hold negotiations on the draft resolution presenting the annual report to the General Assembly, and the President said this would be communicated next week. Iraq thanked the President for ensuring the consensus on the annual report and hoped the Conference would be able to conduct important work in its 2020 session.
This was the last public plenary of the 2019 session of the Conference on Disarmament, which will conclude on 13 September. The 2020 session of the Conference will be held from 20 January to 27 March for the first part; 25 May to 10 July for the second part; and 3 August to 18 September for the third part. Algeria will hold the rotating presidency of the Conference when it starts its 2020 session.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG).