Deadlocked Disarmament Forum Mulls Reviving Agenda Working Group

Delegates wait to hear a speech last year at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, Switzerland. The consensus-driven body this week discussed potentially reviving a working group in an effort to overcome years of paralysis.
Delegates wait to hear a speech last year at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, Switzerland. The consensus-driven body this week discussed potentially reviving a working group in an effort to overcome years of paralysis. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

The international Conference on Disarmament this week discussed the possibility of reviving an informal working group in a bid to end years of deadlock.

Delegates to the 65-nation body conferred on a preliminary proposal to re-establish a group tasked last year with developing a plan to secure agreement on an agenda for the consensus-driven body, which has been unable to achieve unanimity around negotiating any new arms control treaty since the 1990s.

"It seems that all have expressed their support for the principle of re-establishing the informal working group," says a statement by Israel's Eviatar Manor, who holds the body's rotating presidency.

Manor said he anticipated "further consultations with concerned parties on the text" to authorize the possible move. He added, though, that participants "have made substantial progress."

The states that voiced concerns about the initial proposal included Pakistan, which demanded the elimination of all references to an agenda the body briefly endorsed in 2009, according to a report by the nuclear-disarmament advocacy group Reaching Critical Will. Islamabad quickly withdrew its support that year for the plan, which focused on establishing a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty; prohibiting space-based weapons; eliminating nuclear weapons; and providing no-nuclear-targeting security assurances to non-nuclear weapon nations.

"By inserting such references, we run the risk of [re-opening] the past debate," Pakistan said in prepared remarks to the forum. Islamabad has argued that a ban on producing new nuclear-weapon fuel would leave it at a disadvantage against India, its rival nuclear-armed neighbor.

The disarmament forum is scheduled to resume its formal deliberations next Tuesday, according to Reaching Critical Will.

Feb. 13, 2014
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The international Conference on Disarmament this week discussed the possibility of reviving an informal working group in a bid to end years of deadlock.

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