Conference on Disarmament (CD)


Established: 1979
Membership: 65 States
Observers: 27 States (2015 session)


The CD was formed in 1979 as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community, after agreement was reached among Member States during the first special session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) devoted to disarmament (1978). The CD is the successor to the Ten-Nation Committee on Disarmament (TNDC), Geneva, 1960; the Eighteen-Nation Committee on Disarmament (ENDC), Geneva, 1962-68; and the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament (CCD), Geneva, 1969-78.

As originally constituted, the CD had 40 members; however, following the unification of Germany and the breakup of former Yugoslavia, only 38 countries participated in the work of the Conference until 1995. On 17 June 1995, the CD unanimously decided to admit 23 additional members.

The CD has a special relationship with the United Nations. It adopts its own rules of procedure and its own agenda, taking into account the recommendations made by the UNGA and the proposals presented by its members, although its secretary is appointed by the UN Secretary-General. It reports to the General Assembly annually or more frequently, as appropriate. The budget of the CD is included in that of the United Nations, the CD meets on UN premises and is serviced by UN personnel. The Conference conducts its work by consensus. The CD has a permanent agenda agreed upon in 1978 at the first special session of the UNGA devoted to disarmament.

The CD and its predecessors have negotiated multilateral arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament agreements such as the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), Environmental Modification and Seabed treaties, the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention (BTWC), the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).


The CD’s permanent agenda is known as the Decalogue and includes the following issues:

  • Nuclear weapons in all aspects
  • Other weapons of mass destruction
  • Conventional weapons
  • Reduction of military budgets
  • Reduction of armed forces
  • Disarmament and development
  • Disarmament and international security
  • Collateral measures; confidence building measures; effective verification methods in relation to appropriate disarmament measures, acceptable to all parties
  • Comprehensive programme of disarmament leading to general and complete disarmament under effective international control

The tenth issue, as suggested by the nominal title, was a focus on chemical weapons, removed after the CD completed the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1992.

Because of the ambitious scope of the permanent agenda, each year a narrower agenda is adopted.

Most recently, in 2013, the agenda of the CD included:

  • Cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament
  • Prevention of nuclear war, including all related matters
  • Prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS)
  • Effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons
  • New types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons; radiological weapons
  • A comprehensive programme of disarmament
  • Transparency in armaments


Since the conclusion of the negotiation of the CTBT in August 1996, the CD remains deadlocked. With the exception of 1998 and 2009, it has not been able to reach consensus on a programme of work and thus to commence substantive deliberations. The principal problems included difficulties in the current relations between key players, disagreement among them on the prioritization of main issues on the CD's agenda, and attempts of some countries to link progress in one area to parallel progress in other areas. The key items under consideration include: a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices (FMCT), nuclear disarmament, prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS), and negative security assurances.


2016 First Part:

Plenary Statements 2016

The first session of the Conference on Disarmament opened 26 January 2016 in Geneva, Switzerland. The session began with a message from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and a statement condemning the recent nuclear test by the DPRK. The president of the Conference, Peters Nemuze of Nigeria, highlighted the joint responsibility of the Conference members to make progress in their work.

Agenda 2016

During the first meeting, the Conference agreed on a request that a number of non-member states participate as observers. The countries are Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei Darussalam, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Jordan, Holy See, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Malta, Oman, Panama, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovenia, Sudan, Thailand, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and United Arab Emirates.

On 2 February, the Conference heard statements from a number of delegations on the path toward adopting a programme of work.

On 9 February, the Conference discussed the recent rocket launch by the DPRK. Many countries condemned the action and voiced concerns at its implications to international security. The DPRK responded with condemnation of the double standard of those countries that would infringe on their sovereign right to use space for peaceful purposes.

On 16 February, the Conference discussed the draft programme of work proposed by the Conference President. The general reaction by many states was that they would support consensus but that they believed the draft contained language that was too ambiguous.

2015 First Part:

Plenary Statements 2015

The first part of the Conference on Disarmament was held from 19 January 2015 to 27 March 2015. The presidency for the Conference for the 2015 is as follows: Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar, Netherlands, New Zealand. The Conference opened with a statement from the CD President Ambassador Lomónaco of Mexico, in which he noted that despite the fact that 2015 marked the seventieth anniversary of the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there are still about 16,000 nuclear weapons in the World.

Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon also made a statement to the members of the CD at the opening session. In the statement, the Secretary General underlined how increasing tension and instability around the world have severely diminished the prospects for new arms control measures, and are jeopardizing existing arrangements. Therefore, according to the Secretary General, now more than ever the international community cannot afford a Conference on Disarmament that does not help move towards the goal of a safer world.

Following the statement of the SG, the acting Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament, Mr. Michael Møller of Latvia on behalf of the EU, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, the United States of America, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Republic of Korea, Sweden, Morocco, Belarus, Argentina, Turkey, France and Algeria made statements before the Conference. Generally, almost all of the states that made a statement expressed their disappointment at the deadlock in the CD and emphasized their willingness to start a Program of Work.

From 27 January to 26 February, states gave their opening statements in plenary session. Many statements called for the CD to fulfill its mandate and approve a program of work as soon as possible.

On 4 February, the CD President submitted a draft report on civil society participation at the conference. Then, on 10 February, the President presented a revised version and modified the report after considering States Parties’ questions of clarification.

On 11 February, States Parties and civil society participants discussed the issue of membership expansion. South Africa delivered a statement, suggesting that the conference appoint a Special Coordinator on this issue.

On 17 February, Ambassador Vaanchig Purevdorj of Mongolia took the presidency.

On 24 February, the CD addressed the issue of nuclear disarmament. United Kingdom delivered a joint statement on behalf of the P-5 countries. Pakistan, Japan, France, India, South Africa, Russia, Bulgaria, Indonesia, Algeria, United States, Iraq, Netherlands, and Algeria also spoke at the meeting. States reiterated their previously held views.

On 26 February 2015, the CD addressed the FM(C)T. The UK, Pakistan, Japan, South Africa, Korea, France, the US, Italy, Germany, Czech Republic, Canada, Indonesia, Australia, Turkey, China, Argentina, India, Algeria, and Russia participated in the discussion.  States reiterated previously held positions.

From 2 March to 9 March, high-level segments of the Conference took place. Participants discussed nuclear disarmament, regional issues, and other relevant issues.

On 19 March, the CD held the Informal Civil Society Forum. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gave a statement addressing the important role of civil society in disarmament. Currently, there are five panels focusing on nuclear disarmament: a treaty banning the production of fissile material, negative security assurances, prevention of an arms race in outer space, and the way forward respectively.

2015 Second Part

The second session of the Conference on Disarmament was held from 25 May to 10 July. As the Conference began its second part of the 2015 session, Acting Secretary-General Michael Møller delivered a statement. He emphasized that the outcome of the 2015 NPT Review Conference should not impede the progress of the Conference on Disarmament. He called on all States Parties to make efforts towards multilateral disarmament. Ambassador Mohamed Auajjar of Morocco, President of the Conference, expressed his disappointment regarding the outcome of the 2015 NPT Review Conference. He expressed the intention to “resubmit the same agreed text adopted last year on the schedule of activities and on the informal working group (IWG) on the program of work” and “allow observer States to participate in the work of the group.”

On 1 June, Canada submitted a working paper, CD/2024, on “Considering verification implications of fissile material definitions and of fissile material categories for a future FMCT.”

On 5 June, the Conference adopted two draft decisions on the schedule of activities and the re-establishment of an IWG on the program of work. Marco Kalbusch succeeded as the new Secretary of the Conference. France indicated that the adoption of the report (CD/2023) of the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) that contains the recommendations on possible aspects that could contribute but not negotiate a treaty banning the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons(FMCT), in April, was a noteworthy progress which had influenced the deposited FMCT French draft . Also speaking at the Conference were representatives of  Iran, Mexico, Algeria, Switzerland, Malaysia, United States, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, India, Indonesia, Netherlands, Canada, Iraq, and the United Kingdom.

On 9 June, the Conference held a plenary under the Presidency of Myanmar and heard statements from Myanmar, Malaysia, Pakistan, Brazil, and Finland. Pakistan expressed oppositions towards the FMCT draft treaty with regard to the issues of scope, definitions, verification, and entry into force.

On 23 June, the Conference addressed the report of the GGE on a FMCT. Most countries speaking at the Conference expressed support to the draft treaty, except for Pakistan and India. The two countries argued that the draft treaty has no value in disarmament with no inclusion of past production.

On 7 July, Acting High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Kim Won-soo, delivered a statement at the Conference, urging all States Parties “to demonstrate flexibility, to devise innovative solutions and, above all, to rebuild the trust necessary to move forward.”

On 8 July, the President of the Conference, Ambassador Henk Cor Van Der Kwast of the Netherlands, submitted his draft decision (CD/WP.589). However, the draft decision was not adopted due to lack of consensus.

On 27 July, Australia submitted two working papers, CD/2027 and CD/2028, to the Conference on FMCT verification.

2015 Third Part

The third session of the Conference on Disarmament was held from 3 August to 18 September.

On 4 August, the Conference on Disarmament held the first plenary of the third session. The President of the Conference, Ambassador Van Der Kwast of the Netherlands, briefed the Conference on the prospective agenda plans during his presidency. Japan delivered a statement on the 70th anniversary of the nuclear bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and reiterated its commitment and efforts towards achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.

On 11 August, the Conference agreed on Kyrgyzstan’s request to participate in the 2015 session as an observer. Ambassador Païvi Kairamo of Finland, Co-Chair of the IWG on the Program of Work, submitted her final report on the work of the IWG to the Conference. Other countries, including India, United States, China, Mexico, Russia, Pakistan, Switzerland, Belarus, New Zealand, France and the United Kingdom, delivered statements.

On 13 August, Indonesia submitted three working papers, CD/2030, CD/2031 and CD/2032, on behalf of the G-21 on the methods of work of the Conference and its revitalization, on PAROS and on the follow-up to the 2013 high-level meeting of the GA on nuclear disarmament, respectively.

On 17 August, the Conference adopted the final report, CD/2033, of the IWG with the mandate to produce a Program of Work robust in substance and progressive over time in implementation. Iran, Austria, India and Mexico made statements and commended the final report.

On 21 August, Indonesia delivered a statement on behalf of the G-21. Indonesia reiterated the Group’s concern on the lack of progress towards nuclear disarmament. The Conference also heard the Netherlands’ closing remarks for its Presidency.

On 23 August, Latvia, through the Presidency, introduced a working paper, CD/2034, on the issue of enlargement. The President of the Conference, Ambassador Van Der Kwast, submitted a letter to the Conference, CD/2035, on the suggestions of possible way forward for the Conference. Pakistan also submitted a working paper, CD/2036, on the elements of a Fissile Material Treaty (FMT).

On 25 August, the Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan delivered their statements to the Conference. Russia discussed its desire for further discussion of security in outer space, while Pakistan proposed further discussion on their proposal for a FMT and its inclusion in the final report.

On 8 September, China issued a statement at the Conference on the Anniversary of the War with Japan and pledged to reduce the number of armed troops in its military. The Ambassador from Pakistan gave his farewell speech in which he disagreed with those who believed that changing the procedures could fix the deadlock.

On 14 September, China and Russia transmitted a letter, CD/2042, with their comments towards US analysis on the updated changes made by Russia and China concerning their draft treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in outer space, and of the threat or use of force against outer space objects (PPWT).

On 18 September, the Conference concluded its 2015 session with the adoption of the annual report, CD/2046. Most states expressed their gratitude for the effort in the drafting of the report, while many others expressed their disappointment in the lack of adoption of a programme of work.


2014 First Part

Plenary Statements 2014

On 21 January, the Conference adopted its agenda for the 2014 session. The presidency for the Conference this year is as follows: Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, and Malaysia. The Conference opened with a statement from the CD President Ambassador Manor of Israel, in which he noted that the CD is now in its 17th year of stalemate and there is growing armed violence in various parts of the world.

The Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki- Moon also made a statement to the members of the CD at the opening session. In the statement, the Secretary General made it clear that the CD must resume its programme of work. While the SG commended the group for its constructive spirit, he emphasized that it was important for them to develop treaty frameworks and proposals through structured discussions. Finally he appointed Mr. Michael Møller as the Acting Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament and his personal Representative to the Conference.

From 28 January-25 February, states gave their opening statements in plenary session. Many statements called for the CD to fulfill its mandate and approve a programme of work as soon as possible.

On 25 February, the CD President announced that informal consultations the previous day had led to agreement on the renewal of the Informal Working Group (IWG) mandate, and Brazil, Iraq, and Algeria delivered statements.

On 3 March, the CD adopted draft decision CD/WP.579 to re-establish the Informal Working Group. In response to this adoption, the Mexican delegation cautioned about the CD becoming an end in itself, and the Indian representative emphasized that the IWG’s work does not reduce the CD’s responsibility to agree on a programme of work.

Also on 3 March, the President of the General Assembly, John W. Ashe, addressed the CD. Calling on states “to focus on the bigger picture, to overcome differences and to live up to responsibilities,” Mr. Ashe lamented that the last notable achievement of the CD was the CTBT, negotiated 20 years ago. Many state representatives then took the floor to add their disappointment at the stagnation of the CD, although several pointed to the recent success of adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty to highlight progress outside of the Conference. States argued for continuing emphasis on the NPT and the implementation of the 2010 NPT Review Conference Action Plan. The President of the General Assembly pointed to the conferences on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weaponry in Oslo and Nayarit, and expressed his hope that these conferences might stimulate forward movement on international disarmament efforts.

On 11 March, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) presented to the CD, commending the recently adopted ATT’s inclusion of a link between gender-based violence and the international arms trade. The Algerian Ambassador described preparations for the Third Review Conference on the Mine Ban Treaty, scheduled for 23-27 June in Maputo, Mozambique.

On 19 March, Japan’s Toshio Sano assumed the CD presidency. Asking the Group of 21 and Western Group to nominate coordinators for the Schedule of Activities, the new president declared his intention to pursue the “dual track approach” by coming to agreement on a Schedule of Activities and continuing the IWG’s efforts on the programme of work.

On 26 March, the CD met to adopt a schedule of activities for the remainder of the 2014 session, basing the schedule on the draft decision contained in CD/WP.580, which contains a series of open-ended, informal meetings arranged by five regional coordinators. The Group of 21 presented a statement on UNGA Resolution 68/32, which emphasizes the urgency of beginning negotiations on a comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons within the CD, convenes a follow up High-Level Meeting after the one held on 26 September 2013, and requests the UN Secretary General to determine the perspectives of member states on the eradication of nuclear weaponry. Greece’s Andras Kos presented on the EU’s progress in ratifying the ATT, pointing to the fact that 15 member states will have ratified the treaty by next week, with more to follow. Ambassador van der Kwast of the Netherlands delivered a report on the Nuclear Security Summit held in March in The Hague.

2014 Second Part

On 13 May, the CD held a plenary session in which Costa Rica was approved as an observer for the 2014 works of the Conference, the co-chairs of the IWG spread ideas for a programme of work, the Ambassador of Algeria requested the presence of civil society in the informal discussions, and Kyrgyzstan’s Ambassador highlighted the signing of the additional protocol to the CANWFZ by all NPT nuclear weapon states. Pointing to this as the first time these states contemporaneously agreed to sign negative assurances, she noted that more efforts were necessary for the ratification process in order to achieve it before the 2015 NPT Review Conference.

On 20 May, the CD held a plenary session to hear reports from the groups of government experts (GGE) on (1) transparency and confidence building measures in outerspace activities; and (2) aspects that could contribute to but not negotiate a treaty banning the production of fissile material (FMCT) for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. The CD also heard reports from the informal expert meetings on lethal autonomous weapon systems and from the Open-Ended Working Group (OWEG).

Also on 20 May, Mr. Michael Møller, acting Secretary General of the CD, gave suggestions on states’ identification of their common ground issues. He recommended the establishment of a subsidiary body on the working methods of the CD or reviewing the working methods during scheduled plenary meetings. He urged the support of the role and coordination of the P6, and suggested that he host an informal CD Civil Society Forum. The CD member states decided not to allow civil society to participate in the informal meetings occurring during the remainder of the week.

On 3 June, the CD met to discuss the proposals of Acting Secretary General of the Conference, Mr. Michael Møller. The proposals were generally welcomed by many states, and India recommended an informal plenary to develop them more concretely.

On 10 June, the CD met to discuss Russia and China’s most recent draft of the proposed Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space. Frank Rose, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, noted that despite the amendments and omissions in the new draft, the document still “does not address the significant flaws” from the previous version, such as an effective verification regime or measures to address land-based antisatellite systems

2014 Third Part

On 31 July, the CD opened its third and final session of the year with updates from President Ambassador Anthony Andanje of Kenya on the progress of his consultations with delegations and the Informal Working Group. The DPRK, representing the Group of 21, gave a statement on nuclear disarmament and the CD’s lack of progress.

On 5 August, the CD met to cancel the remaining informal sessions of coordinators. The DPRK, again on behalf of the Group of 21, emphasized the need to continue the CD’s work with increased transparency and communication, and expressed its support of the Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space. The Russian delegation requested reports from the coordinators since no further sessions were taking place.

On 12 August, the CD met for a plenary meeting, with CD President Ambassador Andanje of Kenya taking leadership for the last time. The Russian delegation announced that a joint declaration between Cuba and Russia concerning no-first-strike policies in outer space will be submitted to the first committee of the UN General Assembly for consideration. Cuba, Belarus, and Pakistan will be co-sponsors of the resolution.


The first part of the Conference session took place from 22 January to 26 March.

2013 First Part

Plenary Statements 2013

On 22 January, the Conference adopted its agenda for the 2013 session at the 1273rd plenary meeting,

On 11 February, the President of the Conference submitted a draft programme of work for the 2013 session.

On 12-27 February, states gave opening statements. Many of these condemned the nuclear test of the DPRK.

On 5 March, states had a discussion on general nuclear disarmament.

On 12 March, states had a discussion on the concept of a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT).

On 19 March, states held a discussion on outer space security, and heard from the Chairperson of the UN Group of Governmental Experts on transparency and confidence building measures in outer space activities.

On 26 March, states discussed negative security assurances, as well as WMD- and nuclear-weapon-free zones.

2013 Second Part

On 13 May, the CD convened for the second part of its 2013 session with a plenary on new types of weapons of mass destruction and a global disarmament program.

On 21 May, the CD cancelled a plenary session scheduled to address transparency in disarmament.

On 24 May, the CD President, Ambassador Triyono Wibowo of Indonesia, announced that consensus could not be reached yet on the draft program of work.

On 11 June, the CD held a plenary session in which it considered a program of work.

On 18 June, the CD met in a public plenary meeting. Furthermore, the Secretary-General of the CD made a statement proposing three ideas to start work in the CD. These are: establishment of an informal working group, establishment of a subsidiary body in accordance with article 23 of the Rules of Procedure to examine and make proposals on the improvement of the working methods of the Conference, and designation of a special coordinator to examine and make proposals on expansion of the membership of the Conference and on the possible role that civil society may play in its work.

On 21 June, the CD met and heard statements. Outgoing President Mohsen Naziri Asl of Iran stated that Iran’s main focus had been reaching an agreement on a program of work and that the most feasible approach was to simplify the program of work.

On 25 June, the CD met for a public plenary session, the first of the presidency of Iraq. The meeting heard interventions from Mr. Hoshyar Zebari, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iraq; Ms. Anita Friedt, Principle Deputy Assistant Secretary for Nuclear and Strategic Policy; Ms. Angela Kane, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs of the United States of America; and Ambassador Hellmut Hoffmann of Germany.

On 28 June, the second part of the CD closed.

2013 Third Part

On 30 July, the CD convened for the third part of its 2013 session. The CD President, Ambassador Mohammad Sabir Ismail of Iraq, announced that he would be dedicating discussions to the proposal by the CD Secretary-General, Mr. Kassim Jomart-Tokayev, to establish a working group to decide on a CD programme of work.

The third session of the CD was held from 29 July – 13 September.

On 30 July, the CD opened its third session with several delegations declaring their support for the suggestions that the Director-General Tokayev made at the end of the second part of the CD.

On 6 August, the Japanese delegation gave a statement to the Conference on Disarmament on the commemoration of the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He mentioned that Japan will host a ministerial meeting of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) in April 2014 in Hiroshima.  

On 12 August, the CD members met once more to discuss the programme of work proposed by the CD President, Ambassador Sabir Ismail of Iraq. The new draft reintroduced the Shannon Mandate in the description of a working group that would develop proposals on fissile materials for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. However, the new draft was not put up for adoption and did not have consensus.  The President did include the draft as an official document of the CD for future reference. During this discussion, many delegations expressed their disappointment at yet another failure of the CD to come up with a Programme of Work, marking the 17th year of stalemate in the CD.

On 16 August, the CD members met and adopted a draft decision to set up an informal working group (IWG) with a mandate to produce a programme of work. The informal working group will meet during the intersession of the CD between 2013 and 2014. The group established Ambassador Gallegos of Ecuador as the Co-chair of the (IWG) and Ambassador Wolcott of Australia as the Vice Co-chair.

On 20 August, the CD president circulated an informal paper with ideas about revitalizing the CD. Many members discussed the issue of consensus rule. While some delegates suggested changing the rule, other members were clearly opposed to any attempts to reinterpret the consensus rule.

On 27 August, the CD met to discuss the first draft of the CD’s annual report to the General Assembly.

On 2 September, the IWG met for its second meeting. The Co-Chair circulated a food for thought paper with several questions on states’ positions on the programme of work of the CD. One of the questions addressed the possibility of a simplified programme of work for the CD. The importance of the high-level meeting of the General Assembly that was to take place on 26 September 2013 was also stressed.  

On 2 September, Bangladesh made a statement on behalf of the Group of 21 on negative security assurances. The Group emphasized the need to reach an agreement on a universal, unconditional and legally-binding instrument to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.

On 10 September, the Secretary-General of the CD, Mr. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, gave a statement to the CD in which he encouraged the Co-chair and the Vice Co-chair to continue their work after the First Committee session and continue to have consultations with members and observers of the CD.

On 12 September, the CD met for the final plenary meeting of the 2013 session and adopted the 2013 annual report. This annual report includes an overview of the 2013 session with references on what took place during the first two sessions. It also includes the three proposals for a programme of work, CD/1948, CD/1952, and CD/1955.

The CD president, Ambassador Corr of Ireland, reported on the CD’s 2013 activities at the 68th United Nations General Assembly First Committee on 21 October 2013.

The next CD plenary session will take place in January 2014.


The first part of the Conference session took place from 23 January to 30 March; the second part took place from 14 May to 29 June, and the third part took place from 30 July to 14 September.  The presidency of the Conference will rotate between Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, France and Germany.

2012 First Part

On 24 January, the Office of the UN Security General issued a statement at the first 2012 plenary session of the Conference, warning that the “future of the Conference is in the hands of its member states,” and that “the tide of disarmament is rising, yet the Conference on Disarmament is in danger of sinking.” While encouraging a resumption of work, the Office of the UN Secretary General noted that the General Assembly is “ready to consider other options” beyond the CD.    

On 3 April, the Disarmament Commission began, and promptly adjourned, its latest session. The quick adjournment was due to a long-standing disagreement concerning the meeting’s agenda.  

On 5 April, the Disarmament Commission announced it had broken its deadlock and reached an agreement on an agenda. The agenda for the three-year work cycle will contain two items, instead of the usual three. The two items are “Recommendations for achieving the objectives of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons” and “Practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons.” One working group will be devoted to each item.

On 20 April, the Disarmament Commission concluded the first part of the 2012 session of the Conference on Disarmament, and delegates adopted reports of the two working groups noted above.

2012 Second Part

On 15 May, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, President of the General Assembly, addressed the Conference on Disarmament at the beginning of the second part of the 2012 session and expressed his concern over the lack of progress, noting that “the future of the Conference was in the hands of its Member States”.  He reminded the Conference that they had already adopted a program of work by consensus in 2009 (CD/1864) and suggested that they use this as a starting point to develop a 2012 program of work.

On 22 May, the Conference on Disarmament approved a draft schedule of activities submitted by the President and held a thematic discussion on the cessation of the nuclear arms race and more broadly, on nuclear disarmament. 

On 31 May Ambassador Kari Kahiluoto of Finland, the incoming President of the Conference, announced that as the Conference was more than halfway through the year’s session and they had not yet adopted a program of work, he would attempt to direct substantive debate on the schedule of activities.

On 5 June, the Conference held a thematic discussion on the prevention of an arms race in space.  The United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research prepared a background note for the discussion.  Russia and China noted the draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, which they had presented on 12 February 2008 (CD/1839).  Participants highlighted the importance of dealing with space debris and of preserving space for civilian use.

On 12 June, the Conference held a thematic discussion on assurances for non-nuclear-weapon states.  Most delegates agreed that the only total guarantee was the elimination of nuclear weapons but that, pending elimination, non-nuclear-weapon states had a right to legally binding negative security assurances.  States also highlighted the importance of nuclear-weapon-free zones (NWFZs), including the need for a NWFZ in the Middle East.

On 14 June, the CD discussed methods of revitalization from its current deadlock.  The misuse of the consensus rule was cited as a major contributor to the current deadlock, as was the limited membership of the CD. 

2012 Third Part

On 30 July, the P5 issued a joint statement to the CD on implementing the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The statement discussed the 27-29 June meeting of the P5 to review progress towards fulfilling the commitments made at the 2010 NPT Review Conference.

On 13 September, the CD issued its Annual Report to the UNGA. Substantive discussions occurred on the topics of the cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament, prevention of nuclear war, international arrangements to assure non-nuclear weapon states against the threat or use of nuclear weapons, radiological weapons, a comprehensive programme of disarmament, and transparency in armaments, among others. However, significant deadlock remained within the Conference, which many states complained was not adequately reflected in the report of the Conference. One diplomat went as far to warn that the Conference had lost it raison d’être and that it would become increasingly difficult to escape the reality of the current situation.  Several others questioned whether the Conference deserved the resources devoted to it, and remarked that the pressing issues of disarmament could not wait any longer.


The first part of the Conference session took place from 24 January to 1 April; the second part took place from 16 May to 1 July, and the third part took place from 2 August to 16 September. The rotating presidency of the Conference will be held by Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, and Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

On 11 March, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon announced the appointment of the new Secretary-General of the CD and Director General of the UN Office in Geneva. The new Secretary-General of the CD is Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, former Minister for Foreign Affairs and Chair of the Senate of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

2011 First Part

Ambassador Marius Grinius of Canada served as the first president of the year.

On 25 January, the first CD meeting of the year adopted an agenda, but continuing disagreements over the inclusion of negotiations of an FMCT prevented the adoption of a program of work. The CD President subsequently proposed a series of substantive thematic discussions.

On 26 January, the Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon delivered an address to the CD, warning the CD that continued inaction would threaten the body's credibility, and encouraged states to progress on the negotiations of an FMCT.

From 3 to 15 February, work focused on thematic debates about the first four CD agenda items. Delegates discussed definitions for an FMCT, the prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS), and negative security assurances

As thematic debates concluded on 15 February, delegations focused on substantive discussions in three side events organized by Australia and Japan, which continued on 17 February. The Australian Ambassador Peter Woolcott, observed that though no definitive answers were reached, the sessions "allowed us to delve into the issues in greater depth."

On 22 February, Ambassador Pedro Oyarce of Chile oversaw the first plenary under the Chilean presidency and provided an indicative agenda based on discussions of the four core issues. Debate focused on establishing a simplified program of work.

On 24 February the CD discussed cessation of a nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament, as non-nuclear weapons states called for more progress toward total disarmament and nuclear weapons states highlighted recent disarmament efforts, particularly the 2010 NPT Review Conference Action Plan and the ratification of New START.

On 28 February and 1 March, the CD heard high-level statements from a number of member states. U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton indicated that the U.S. would pursue other options on FMCT should the CD remain blocked, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed concern that parallel disarmament initiatives would degrade the multilateral disarmament system.

Definitions for an FMCT were considered at the meeting on 3 March. The ambassador of Australia presented the results of the side event it hosted with Japan, circulating a table with four different definitions of "fissile material" proposed by states. This sparked discussion in the formal sessions, but states including China, Iran, and India insisted on the informal nature of the table presented by Australia.

Discussions returned to NSAs on 10 March, and non-nuclear-weapon states expressed clear support for a legally binding agreement. NWFZs also came under consideration, and Egypt urged more support from the international community in preparation for the Middle East Conference planned for 2012.

On 17 March, the CD President Pedro Oyarce of Chile distributed a non-paper proposing a program of work that establishes four working groups to make substantive progress on the first four agenda items. Many delegations welcomed the non-paper, and no delegation voiced opposition to its language.

On 22 March, the new CD President, Ambassador Wang Qun of China, circulated a schedule of meetings for the end of the session. The meetings included a plenary session discussion of elements that would be unacceptable in the program of work and a separate discussion of essential elements for a program of work.

The CD discussed nuclear disarmament on 24 March. Non-nuclear weapon states expressed their disappointment with a lack of progress on the disarmament agenda while nuclear weapons states pointed to recent progress with the 2010 NPT Review Conference action plan and the necessity to halt fissile material production.

On 30 March, debate continued on the program of work and negotiations of an FMCT. Delegations continued to disagree on features of a program of work. Regarding the negotiations of an FMCT, several states supported the inclusion of existing stockpiles issue in negotiations. The first part of the 2011 session closed without the adoption of a program of work.

2011 Second Part

On Tuesday, 17 May the Conference on Disarmament convened for the second part of the 2011 session, under the presidency of Ambassador Wang Qun of China. During the session, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cuba and North Korea also held the rotating presidency.

Ambassador Wang Qun announced that Mr. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev had been appointed as the Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament by the UN Secretary-General.

Ambassador Hoffmann of Germany reported from the recent meeting in Berlin, where the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) adopted a statement on its work towards achieving nuclear disarmament and strengthening the non-proliferation regime.

The delegations of Brazil, Mexico, Bulgaria, the European Union, Ireland, the Eastern European Group, and Chile spoke in favor of expansion of the CD's membership.

On 24 May, Ahmet Uzumcu, the Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, addressed the CD and spoke on a programme of work for the Conference. Mr. Uzumcu advised the CD should look to the successes of the Chemical Weapons Convention as "both a political compact and technical agreement."

The CD then held discussions on the programme of work, with some members advocating a comprehensive and balanced programme of work, while others pressed for a clear working mandate. Revising the wording of the mandate and simplifying the programme of work with no mandate were also suggested. Noting the divided opinions, the CD President, Ambassador Wang Qun of China, believed the conditions were inadequate to propose a programme of work during China's presidency.

On 26 May, the outgoing CD President Wang Qun of China issued a statement, noting it was "imperative that confidence be preserved" in the CD. The President also highlighted the ongoing debate between states on whether or not to hold "'negotiations'" or "'discussions'" to achieve goals related to the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty. Mr. Wang stated China wished to "see a 'good treaty' through 'good negotiations' at the Conference with all key players on board."

On 1 June, Alicia Victoria Arango Olmos oversaw and addressed the first plenary session under the Colombian presidency. The CD President stated the "ultimate goal" of achieving disarmament and international security requires a "frank and constructive dialogue" on the Conference and its actions.

On 16 June, Gioconda Ubeda, Secretary General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Nuclear Arms in Latin America (OPANAL), addressed the Conference. Secretary Ubeda emphasized the importance of the five nuclear weapons free zones in the world, as well as the work to achieve such a zone in the Middle East.

During the session, other members noted how the expansions of membership could help move efforts of the Conference in a positive direction.

On 28 June, So Se Pyong oversaw and addressed the first plenary session under the North Korean presidency. The CD President welcomed "any sort of constructive proposals that strengthened the work and credibility of the body." During the session, the departing delegate from Canada argued the CD was "on life support because it no longer was the sole multilateral negotiating forum for disarmament."

On 11 July, Canada withdrew from the CD and issued a statement. It announced, "North Korea is simply not a credible chair of this UN body," further declaring it would "resume its engagement in the Conference on Disarmament following the end of North Korea's presidency on August 19, 2011."

2011 Third Part

On 4 August, the Conference on Disarmament convened for the final part of the 2011 session, under the presidency of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The Secretary-General of the CD, Mr. Tokayev, highlighted the possibility of changing the rotating presidency and the need to re-interpret or amend the consensus rule.  The delegations of Chile, Mexico and Norway supported this view, and encouraged greater inclusion of civil society into the work of the CD.  The Iranian delegation did not believe that changing the Rules of Procedure would advance the work of the CD, and the delegations of Malaysia, Iran, Pakistan, DPRK, and Nigeria called for the convening of a Fourth Special Session on Disarmament (SSOD-IV).

Ambassador Danon of France provided a report of the P-5 meeting on 30 June-1 July. The meeting focused on transparency, nuclear doctrine and verification. 

On 11 August, delegations discussed a proposal for a working group on the revitalization of the work of the CD proposed by Columbia. The G21 called for an early convening of a SSOD-IV, and Ambassador Suda of Japan highlighted the 66th anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

On 18 August, Ambassador Akram of Pakistan delivered a statement on behalf of the G21 re-stating the group’s priority of progressing on nuclear disarmament. 

 On 23 August, Ambassador Rodolfo Reyes Rodrígez oversaw the first meeting of the CD under the Cuban presidency.  Cuba attributed the paralysis of the CD to “a lack of political will…to make real progress.” Ambassador Akram of Pakistan asserted that the next logical step for the CD was to negotiate a legally binding agreement on negative security assurances. 

Ambassador Suda of Japan provided a brief report of the third side event on an FMCT organized by Japan and Australia, emphasizing that the events did not represent negotiations or pre-negotiations but an opportunity to exchange views. 

On 1 September, discussion focused on the draft annual report circulated by the CD President.

On 6 September, debate continued on the draft annual report. After the adoption of several amendments from the previous plenary, delegates focused on the best manner to structure the paragraphs describing the follow-up work of the high-level meeting from September 2010. Questions of repetition in the report and working around specific interventions were also addressed. 

On 9 September, a document with the current status of the draft report was circulated by the CD secretariat. Discussions returned to earlier points of difficulty, but the meeting was adjourned when the CD President initiated an open information meeting facilitated by Mr. Combrink from South Africa to continue debate on more specific language.  

On 13 September, the Deputy Secretary-General of the CD, Mr. Jarmo Sareva, distributed a new draft annual report built upon previous consultations, and debate on the draft report continued.

On 15 September, the CD formally adopted the annual report to the UN General Assembly.


The first part of the CD session took place from 18 January to 26 March, the second part from 31 May to 16 July, and the third part from 9 August to 24 September. The rotating presidency of the Conference was held by Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, and Cameroon.

2010 First Part

Ambassador Abdul Hannan of Bangladesh served as the first president of the year.

On 19 January, at its first meeting of the session, the CD was unable to adopt an agenda, mainly due to a proposal by the delegation of Pakistan for the inclusion of two additional items to the annual CD agenda: conventional arms control at regional and sub-regional levels, and all aspects of missile control.

On 26 January, the CD was able to adopt its agenda without any amendments. On 16 February, the CD's incoming president, Ambassador Mikhail Khvostov of Belarus, emphasized the need to begin negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT).

On 18 February, Ambassador Zamir Akram of Pakistan explained Pakistan's opposition to the FMCT, stating that the FMCT would not address existing stockpiles, which puts Pakistan in an unfavorable position vis-à-vis India. Ambassadors from Japan and Germany argued that the FMCT would act as both a disarmament and non-proliferation measure.

The same day Norway's deputy permanent representative noted the achievement of the 30th ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 16 February thus enabling the treaty to enter into force on 1 August 2010.

On 25 February, the acting President of the CD, Ambassador Khvostov of Belarus, circulated a draft programme of work.

A Norwegian representative gave a statement on the 11th anniversary of the entry into force of the Mine Ban Treaty emphasizing the treaty's success as an example of a strong alliance between governments and civil society.

On 9 March, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) delivered a statement for International Women's day, becoming the first NGO to give a statement in a formal plenary.

The CD President officially tabled a draft programme of work on 9 March. Ambassador Akram of Pakistan commented on the draft programme of work, claiming that it did not take the views of the G21 into consideration.

On 11 March, the CD met to debate the draft programme of work. The draft contained in CD/WP.559 received wide support from many of the delegations. The Pakistani delegation and a small group of G21 states argued for improvement of the draft, reiterating that priority should be placed on nuclear disarmament.

On 16 March, Ambassador Van Meeuwen of Belgium, the third CD President for the session, announced that consultations on the programme of work would resume in the second part of the 2010 CD session.

On 23 March, in the final plenary meeting of the first part of the 2010 session, Ambassador Laura Kennedy of the United States announced in her first statement to the CD that the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review would help to reduce the number and role of nuclear weapons in the United States. She also emphasized the interest of the United States in continuing discussions on core issues in the CD and commencing negotiations on an FMCT.

2010 Second Part

The second part of the 2010 session began on 3 June with a briefing on New START by the US Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance, and Implementation Rose Gottemoeller and Director of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Department of Security and Disarmament, Ambassador Anatoly Antonov.

The acting CD President, Ambassador Van Meeuwen of Belgium, proposed to hold four informal meetings devoted to discussing the issue of fissile materials, which Pakistan opposed. According to Ambassador Akram, meetings should be agreed upon in accordance with the CD rules of procedure. He further reiterated that a pursuit of an FMCT unfairly singles out Pakistan. In spite of Pakistani objections, the first informal meeting was scheduled for 7 June.

The following week, the CD adopted working paper CD/WP.560, which outlined how informal meetings should be conducted and what topics will be addressed. Ambassador Van Meewen attributed this outcome to the success of the 2010 NPT Review Conference. Sweden and Algeria were assigned to coordinate four meetings under agenda items 1 (cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament) and 2 (prevention of nuclear war). Brazil was assigned to coordinate discussion on agenda item 3 (prevention of an arms race in outer space), Bangladesh on agenda item 4 (effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon states against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons), Belarus on agenda item 5 (new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons; radiological weapons), Indonesia on agenda item 6 (comprehensive programme of disarmament), and Finland on agenda item 7 (transparency in armaments).

On 15 June, Ambassador Celso Amorim of Brazil provided details about the joint declaration on nuclear fuel issued by Turkey, Brazil, and Iran in May 2010.

On 29 June, the Director General of UNOG Sergei Ordzhonikidze announced that a high-level half-day CD meeting would be chaired by the UN Secretary General at the UN Headquarters in New York City on 24 September 2010. Topics include issues affecting the efficiency of the CD, multilateral disarmament in general, and future courses of action.

Ambassador Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui of Syria condemned the Israeli launch of Ofek 9, a satellite capable of taking high-resolution images, as a sign of aggression that had the potential to initiate an arms race in the Middle East.

On 6 July, the G21 delivered a joint statement arguing that the need for PAROS has increased, due to a lack of legal instruments to deter further militarization of outer space. All states with major space capabilities were called to actively contribute to PAROS, and to refrain from carrying out any actions contrary to its agenda or any other relevant existing treaties. The G21 also expressed deep concern about the development of anti-ballistic-missile defense systems and the pursuit of advanced military technologies capable of being deployed in outer space.

On 8 July, CD President Macedo Soares of Brazil presented CD/1899 containing a draft programme of work which was not adopted during the plenary meeting. While the majority of countries expressed support for the proposal, Pakistan, Algeria, Indonesia, Syria, and the G21 did not explicitly support it.

On 13 July, the CD met under the presidency of Ambassador Gancho Ganev of Bulgaria. Mr. Frank Rose, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Defense Policy and Verification Operations presented the new US National Space Policy. He stated that the new policy addresses the issues facing the international space community and places emphasis on international cooperation in space. The policy also seeks bilateral and multilateral transparency, and provides confidence-building measures to encourage the responsible, peaceful use of space.

On 15 July, the final plenary meeting of the second session of the CD concluded without consensus on a programme of work. Ambassador Ganev of Bulgaria notified the CD that he would use the recess to continue consultations on the draft programme of work contained in CD/1889. Ambassador Akram of Pakistan reiterated Pakistan's opposition to the programme of work, stating that it undermines Pakistan's security interests. Mr. Iliopoulos of Belgium on behalf of the EU pronounced the EU's longstanding readiness to work in the CD. Ambassador Chipaziwa of Zimbabwe stated that the consensus principle of the CD had worked well in the past and would continue to be useful to negotiations.

2010 Third Part

The third and final part of the CD's 2010 session began on 10 August. The CD President, Ambassador Ganey of Bulgaria, informed the CD on the developments during the intercessional period. Ambassador Akio Suda of Japan called for the consensus rule of the CD to be re-examined in order to end the deadlock over an FMCT. The Cuban and Algerian ambassadors offered opposing views, claiming that the problem in the CD is that the process of choosing the items for negotiation is selective and discriminatory.

On 17 August, Deputy Secretary-General of the CD, Jarmo Sareva, provided details about the high level CD meeting in New York scheduled for 24 September. Several delegations requested that the informal meetings of the CD Member-States be convened in advance to discuss possible outcomes and provide input to the Secretary-General.

During his farewell speech, Ambassador Rapacki of Poland stated that he did not believe that negotiations on an FMCT should occur outside of the CD. Instead, he suggested that CD Member States who wish to begin negotiations should do so in plenary meetings, in which they would be able to make their positions known.

On 24 August, delegates from Brazil, Algeria, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom spoke against the establishment of parallel negotiating initiatives on CD issues. Pakistani Ambassador Zamir Akram said that his county had no problems with negotiations of an FMCT occurring outside of the CD but would never take part in them.

Delegates from Canada, Ireland, and Mexico made statements in support of the creation of parallel negotiating initiatives if no progress was made within the CD. CD Secretary-General Sergei Ordzhonikidze supported these statements by saying that he believed that parallel mechanisms and meetings could take place if work were not resumed within the next year.

On 31 August, the CD met under the Presidency of Ambassador Anatole Fabien-Marie Nkou of Cameroon. Indonesia, Austria, Sweden, South Africa, Croatia, Algeria, and Belarus in their statements emphasized the positive contribution of civil society, calling for further NGO participation in the CD. In an effort to make the proceedings more efficient, Croatia proposed the dismantlement of regional groups in the CD. Pakistan reasserted its position against starting negotiations on an FMCT

On 7 September, the CD met for a brief plenary meeting, and CD President Ambassador Nkou of Cameroon announced the beginning of informal meetings for delegations to discuss a draft report to the General Assembly, in preparation for finalizing the report before the high-level meeting of 24 September. NGOs were asked to leave for the informal meeting and were not informed of the resumption of the plenary. In response, Malaysia stressed the importance of engagement with civil society for transparency and moving the CD forward. The G21 and Malaysia called for the convening of SSOD IV as a way for the international community to break the current impasse on disarmament and nonproliferation.

On 14 September, the CD closed the 2010 session by adopting the annual report. Ambassador Nkou asserted that he would continue to work as CD president until the 2011 session convened and that he would consult delegations on wording for a draft resolution to put forward to the General Assembly.

Ambassador Eric Danon of France argued that the political will of the P5 to start negotiations had been consistent and that negotiations on an FMCT would start, in the CD or elsewhere. The United States signaled their desire to start to look at alternative approaches outside the CD in order to start negotiations of an FMCT.

On 24 September, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon chaired the High Level Meeting on Revitalizing the Work of the Conference on Disarmament and Taking forward Multilateral Disarmament Negotiations in New York City. The meeting's discussions focused on finding ways to advance the disarmament negotiations in Geneva and the multilateral disarmament process. Delegates from Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States called for negotiations on an FMCT to be moved to the United Nations General Assembly where the agreement could be endorsed by a majority vote. The Chinese and Russian delegations expressed opposition to this idea, claiming that excluding Pakistan from this process would be undesirable. The Canadian delegation called for the CD to drop its requirement of consensus on items of discussion in order to accelerate negotiations.


The first part of the Conference took place from 19 January to 27 March; the second part started 18 May and ended 3 July, and the third part took place from 3 August to 18 September. The rotating presidency of the Conference was held by Viet Nam, Zimbabwe, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, and Austria.

2009 First Part

The CD met for its first plenary on 20 January and adopted its agenda, CD/WP.552, which was identical to that of the previous year. During this part, numerous parties expressed support for moving forward based on the 2008 proposed programme of work (CD/1840), but Pakistan, Egypt, and Malaysia voiced their opposition. The discussions focused mostly around the prevention of an arms race in outer space, negative security assurances, and a fissile material treaty.

On 3 February, following the precedent of 2008, the CD President Le Hoai Trang of Viet Nam announced the appointment of seven coordinators to facilitate informal discussions on each substantive agenda item. Pakistan and Iran noted their reservations, but did not oppose the appointment.

2009 Second Part

On 19 May, during the first meeting of the second part, CD President Idriss Jazaïry submitted a new proposed programme of work. In contrast to the 2007 and 2008 proposals, CD/1863 mandates the establishment of working groups on the four core issues and special coordinators for the other agenda items. The proposed programme of work calls for the negotiation of a fissile materials treaty on the basis of the 1995 Shannon Mandate, recommendations for dealing with negative security assurances, substantive discussions relating to the prevention of an arms race in outer space, and practical steps, including potential multilateral approaches, to reduce nuclear weapons with the ultimate goal of their elimination.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed the CD in support of the adoption of the proposed programme of work, which he called a "document that can achieve consensus and that addresses all substantive and procedural issues." He also urged a "new multilateralism," emphasizing that any bilateral efforts "must feed into a broader multilateral framework," and called for "bold action" to accelerate disarmament. Both the Swiss and the Algerian foreign ministers also addressed the CD in support of CD/1863.

On 22 May, while the CD President noted that consensus had not yet been reached, numerous parties, including Pakistan, announced their support for CD/1863. Israel, however, argued that it had not received a response for a request for a meeting with the Algerian CD President.

On 26 and 28 May, numerous delegations took the floor in support of the proposed programme of work. The Indian mission announced that it was still waiting for instructions from the capital. Many delegations condemned or expressed concern over the North Korean 25 May nuclear test.

On 29 May, the CD president characterized the proposed programme of work as "a compromise which provides a delicate balance." He contended that it "in no way establishes a hierarchy in terms of priority," but rather provided a basis of compromise to launch negotiations. Afterwards the CD adopted CD/1864 as its programme of work. Before the adoption of the document, however, the DPRK stated that it would continue to strengthen "national deterrence" and Morocco noted its discontent with a number of issues, but both delegations ultimately said they would not block consensus. After the adoption of the programme, India noted that it expected FMCT negotiations to focus on the future production of fissile materials, while Pakistan argued that stocks would have to be addressed for Pakistan to implement the treaty. Numerous delegations, including Egypt, Indonesia, the Russian Federation, Syria, the United Kingdom, and the United States, welcomed the adoption of the programme.

2009 Third Part

On 4 June, Pakistan elaborated on its position regarding the FMCT, stating that the issue of existing stockpiles had taken on greater significance in light of "nuclear cooperation arrangements in our neighborhood." India and Pakistan's delegations both explained that an FMCT that prejudiced their national security interests would be unacceptable.

On 11 June, Iran's delegation reemphasized that the FMCT should not become merely an instrument of non-proliferation, but instead must be a "clear and meaningful step for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation in all its aspects," including past production and existing stocks of fissile material. In terms of selecting working group chairs, the Pakistani delegation argued that selections "should not be from P-5, non-NPT states or countries in a military alliance or countries enjoying nuclear protection." While the United Kingdom's delegation highlighted the importance of the three principles of trust, good faith, and balance, the delegation of the Philippines added a fourth principle of inclusivity, and argued that observer states should be granted the same rights in working groups and special coordinating groups. Indonesia and Colombia also spoke to the issue of civil society and NGO participation.

On 25 June, Ambassador Roberto Garcia Moritan of Argentina, current president of the CD, released two draft decisions: a draft calendar of activities (CD/1866), and a draft list of candidates to chair the working groups and act as special coordinators (CD/1867).

On 26 June, although the Western Group and the Eastern European Group expressed their support for CD/1866 and CD/1867, the CD president could not put forward these documents for decision. Several delegations conveyed their frustration with the lack of progress towards the adoption of the two documents. China stated that its reservations about the drafts concerned the lack of clear mandates for the chairs and coordinators, and noted the need for a comprehensive package clearly defining the relationship between the two documents. Pakistan stated that the CD was not yet in a position to adopt the documents.

During the 30 June plenary meeting, the president of the CD announced that CD/1866 had been updated, and that CD/1866 and CD/1867 would only be applicable to the 2009 session. Accordingly, the CD would have to adopt a new programme of work and implementation methods in 2010. During this meeting, Gareth Evans, co-chair of the International Commission on Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, addressed the conference and briefly outlined the Commission's purpose and plans.

On 2 July, many delegations restated their support for CD/1866/Rev.1 and CD/1867, while Pakistan argued that the special security interests of NNWS that do not "belong to a military alliance or enjoy a security umbrella" deserve special consideration "so that they are in a better place to protect their interests."

On 4 August, the current CD president introduced a new draft decision, CD/1870, which outlined implementation of the programme of work. The delegation of the United Kingdom announced Road to 2010, a government report on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.

On 6 August, the president of the CD introduced CD/1870/Rev.1, a revised framework for implementing the programme of work. Australia and Japan noted the anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and pointed out the importance of the CD recommencing its work.

On August 12, China's Foreign Minister addressed the conference and outlined the country's commitment to nuclear disarmament. This includes the non-deployment of nuclear weapons on foreign soil, not participating in an arms race, early ratification of CTBT, opposition to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means, and dedication to the peaceful resolution of the nuclear issues in Iran and on the Korean peninsula through dialogue and negotiation.

On 27 August, during the plenary meeting, Pakistan's delegation emphasized the importance of ensuring a balanced outcome for all four core issues by adding a paragraph specifying this principle in the implementation framework. Iran's ambassador argued that Pakistan's amendments would be less damaging to the CD than continued deadlock will be. China's ambassador agreed, declaring the he feels the Pakistani amendment is a "tiny issue".

On 31 August, the current president of the CD announced that despite intensive consultations, consensus on the implementation framework for the programme of work "still eludes" the Conference and they will therefore be unable to implement its programme of work this year.

On 17 September, the final day of the Third Part of the 2009 session, the CD adopted its report with amendments. Japan, the Netherlands, and Canada jointly submitted to the CD a document prepared by the International Panel on Fissile Materials, entitled "A Treaty Banning the Production of Fissile Materials for Nuclear Weapons or Other Nuclear Explosive Devices, with article-by-article explanations." A few delegations, including those of the European Union, Algeria, and the Philippines, called for the expansion of the CD's membership. There was much discussion over the failure to implement the programme of work, and the desire to preserve the momentum created over the past year.


The first part of the 2008 session took place from 21 January to 28 March, the second part began 12 May and ended 27 June, and the third part started on 28 July and concluded on 12 September. Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Venezuela held the rotating presidencies for 2008.

2008 First Part

The first part began with a call from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for members to "move forward in a spirit of compromise." This marked the first time in recent years that a UNSG personally opened the CD session, and Mr. Ban expressed his disappointment with the Conference's failure to seize opportunities for progress in 2007. Several states, including Russia, Germany, and Australia, expressed their support for using the previous year's L.1 programme of work as a starting point for 2008.

On 29 January, Conference President Samir Labidi of Tunisia outlined a seven-point plan of action based upon the CD mandate and appointed a coordinator for informal discussion on each item. Ambassador Martabit of Chile was tasked to focus on the prevention of nuclear war; Ambassador Tarui of Japan on a fissile material treaty; Ambassador Grinius of Canada on PAROS; Ambassador Ly of Senegal on negative security assurances; Ambassador Draganov of Bulgaria on new types and systems of WMD and radiological weapons; Ambassador Jayatilleka of Sri Lanka on disarmament; and Ambassador Puja of Indonesia on transparency in armaments.

On 12 February, China and the Russian Federation presented a draft treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects (PPWT). The proposal included a mandate for further research, and several states embraced the effort to energize discussion on outer space. The United States, however, gave no indication that it would be willing to reverse its position and begin negotiations on such a treaty.

During informal discussion on 19 February, Swedish Ambassador Hans Dahlgren delivered a statement on behalf of several nations calling for the de-alerting of nuclear weapons systems.

During an informal session on 13 March, rotating President Ahmet Üzümcü of Turkey circulated CD/1840, a draft decision from the six presidents based upon the 2007 L.1 agenda and the CRP.5 and CRP.6 presidential statements. Mr. Victor Vasiliev of the Russian Federation stated that while the plan was not fully acceptable, it represented a compromise that his country would not reject. He urged greater consultation between coordinators and members in the second part of the session.

The CD continued to witness an increase in the number of high-level visitors urging cooperation and progress. In addition to the UNSG, the Tunisian, Russian, and Chinese Ministers of Foreign Affairs, and the administrator of the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration addressed the conference.

2008 Second Part

Many delegations spoke in favor of CD/1840, most notably a number of Latin American countries in the G21, although the Moroccan delegation criticized it for offering no new ideas and placing an unbalanced emphasis on negotiating an FMCT. Chilean Ambassador Carlos Portales also questioned the relevance of the CD's consensus-based decision-making process in a post-Cold War world, and Canada encouraged more transparent, informal discussion among members.

Iranian Ambassador Ali Reza Moaiyeri called for a "balanced and comprehensive" programme of work, as well as an FMCT that would be comprehensive, verifiable, and covers existing stocks.

A number of delegations noted that while the CD is frequently referred to as the sole forum for multilateral disarmament negotiations, conventions banning anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions had been successfully negotiated elsewhere. South African Ambassador Glaudine Mtshali argued that the institution and machinery of the CD should not be blamed for the deadlock, and that diplomats have a responsibility to take active roles in making recommendations to their capitals in order to "influence or shape the exercise of political will."

On 25 June, Mr. Javier Solana, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, addressed the final plenary of the second session. He highlighted the importance of the CD as the place for Nuclear Weapon States and Non-Nuclear Weapon States to forge a credible plan for the way forward. He also announced that later in the year, the EU would introduce a code of conduct for transparency and confidence-building in outer space. In addition, Mr. Solana called on all relevant States to sign and ratify the CTBT without delay.

2008 Third Part

Pakistani Ambassador Massood Khan agreed with the numerous delegations who had urged that members not allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. He laid out specific reasons why his delegation felt that CD/1840 was flawed, however, calling it "a lop-sided compromise among broadly likeminded countries." Mr. Khan explained that Pakistan would endorse CD/1840 only if it were revised to address the following issues:

  • A commitment to negotiate a "non-discriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable" fissile materials treaty.
  • Creation of space for addressing the question of existing and future stocks of fissile material.
  • Balance among all four core issues—nuclear disarmament, FMT, PAROS, and NSAs.
  • Using ad hoc committees or other subsidiary bodies as mechanisms for negotiation, in accordance with the CD's Rules of Procedure.
  • A differentiation between the role of the coordinators to facilitate informal discussions and the functions of formal CD subsidiary bodies to conduct negotiations in the context of the programme of work.

On 26 August, the American delegation circulated comments critical of the Sino-Russian draft treaty banning space weapons. In the final plenary of the 2008 session on 9 September, the CD was able to adopt an annual report for the UN General Assembly. Representatives from Vietnam, Argentina, and Zimbabwe, three of the six presidents for 2009, addressed the final plenary, pledging to conduct consultations during the intersessional period with a view to starting the 2009 Conference as productively as possible.


The first part of the 2007 meeting took place from 22 January to 30 March. The CD held the second part from 14 May until 29 June. The third part began on 30 July and concluded on 14 September. South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, and Syria (the S6) held the presidencies.

2007 First Part

The activities of the first part commenced with the South African Presidency of Glaudine Mtshali. On 24 January, the conference adopted its agenda, and the S6 established an Organizational Framework and built on the 2006 "Friends of the Presidents" by appointing coordinators to each of the agenda items. The items on the agenda included: cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament, prevention of nuclear war, including all related matters, prevention of an arms race in outer space, effective international agreements to assure non-nuclear-weapon states against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons, including radiological weapons; a comprehensive programme of disarmament; transparency in armaments, and consideration and adoption of the annual report and any other report, as appropriate, to the General Assembly of the United Nations. Some member countries expressed the concern that the term "coordinator" implies activity too similar to a negotiation mandate, but most expressed optimism and enthusiasm for progress during the 2007 session.

On 6 February, Syria called for a new international convention against the use or threat of use of a nuclear weapon. Egypt once again called for a NWFZ in the Middle East. At the same meeting, Russia shifted its position indicating that it was ready to negotiate an FMCT without any preconditions.

In a speech before the CD on 22 February, Dr. Kim Howells, Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom, defended the recently circulated UK whitepaper on renewing its trident submarines. A decision not to renew would have been the first example of a NWS disarming. Howell argued that maintaining a nuclear deterrent was still necessary, and the United Kingdom needed to ensure that it would still have a nuclear capability in 20 years

On 23 March, the S6 proposed a draft programme of work (CD/2007/L.1), appointing coordinators to oversee substantive discussions on disarmament, PAROS, NSAs, and "negotiation without precondition on a non-discriminatory and multilateral treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and or other nuclear explosive devices." The United States, United Kingdom, and Russia all indicated their acceptance of the proposal. China, India, Pakistan, and several other nations had to wait to receive guidance from their capitals. Egypt and Algeria also expressed reservations. Members delayed the vote twice as parties insisted they needed more time. By the last day of the first session, consensus on the S6 proposal had still not yet been achieved. The conference opted for more time and a possible special session before the second session, at which point in time a vote on the proposal would occur.

2007 Second Part

The conference did not in fact hold a special session prior to its next official meeting. The CD commenced its second session on 15 May. Delegations continued to deliberate the president's proposed plan of work. After the first two plenary meetings, the committee remained stuck on the issues. China, Pakistan, India, and Egypt all expressed concern about the plan. China continued its campaign for a PAROS negotiating mandate and expressed concern that conducting work under "coordinators" rather than in ad hoc committees would "not ensure effective and substantive work on the relevant items." Some states suggested that the S6 proposal be opened for amendments as a way to move forward.

When Ambassador Elisabet Borsiin Bonnier of Sweden assumed the presidency of the CD on 31 May, she delivered a clear message to the conference, requesting patience, cooperation, and urging members to avoid blaming each other or fostering pessimism. She requested a break in the conference activities so that she could deliberate and prepare a response to the continued impasse. A few days later, Bonnier announced her intention to create a presidential statement (CRP.5) to accompany the P6 proposal as a measure to clarify and alleviate concerns. She went forward with her idea while warning that if "the heart of the problem lies in serious political or military reluctance to embark on the kind of work outlined in the L.1, then no Presidential Statement, however cleverly crafted, will take us out of our present dead-lock."

When the presidential statement and attached draft decision were presented to the conference, China, Pakistan, and Iran indicated that they were not prepared to move forward with the package. China requested more time to consider the issue, while Iran and Pakistan expressed their substantive and procedural concerns. They continued to stress their desire for negotiations to begin on all four issues simultaneously and negotiations on an FMCT in accordance with the Shannon Mandate. Despite numerous consultations and negotiations, these concerns were not resolved, and the second session ended in stalemate.

2007 Third Part

The CD's third session convened on 30 July 2007. The conference did not take a vote on the L.1 proposal or the associated presidential statements. Despite continuing consultations and attempts to resolve concerns, the parties were not able achieve the consensus necessary to begin negotiations. Discussions during the last days of the conference instead focused on chemical and biological weapons issues, and preparing and adopting the annual report.

In his farewell comments to the conference, Canadian Ambassador Paul Meyer frankly expressed his frustration and concern that there was a "dysfunctional consensus rule that sacrifices the commitments of the many to the preferences of the few" and rendered the conference incapable of achieving its substantive goals. He noted: "If despite the best efforts of many in this hall, we are unable to agree on a way to resume work, we should look to other processes for carrying this work forward." Ambassador Meyer pointed to progress on cluster munitions and the Ottawa process on landmines as examples of extra-CD approaches that could be successful if the necessary political will was harnessed. Indeed, the fact that the CD came so close to breaking its decade-long stalemate and yet failed caused many analysts to question the future of the world's sole forum for multilateral disarmament negotiation.


The first part of the 2006 session began on 23 January and concluded on 31 March. The second part ran from 15 May to 30 June. The third part took place between 31 July and 15 September 2006. Throughout 2006, Poland, the Republic of Korea, Romania, the Russian Federation, Senegal, and Slovakia held the rotating presidency of the conference. The presidents of the 2006 conference (P6) cooperated closely in order to assure continuity during their successive presidencies.

2006 First Part

As a means of creating a framework for a substantive session, presiding Polish Ambassador Rapacki encouraged delegates and NGOs at the first meeting to submit working papers, proposals, and ideas. While some delegations suggested that the conference should look at alternative proposals on the programme of work, many other States expressed continued support for the 2003 Five Ambassadors agenda.

Ambassador Valery Loshchinin of the Russian Federation submitted a proposal on fissile materials which referenced President Putin's initiative of 25 January 2006 on the "creation of a prototype of a global infrastructure which will assure all interested countries equal access to the benefits of the peaceful use of nuclear power." This infrastructure would establish international centers for uranium enrichment and reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel "under strict compliance with all norms of [the] nuclear non-proliferation regime" and functioning "a non-discriminatory basis and under the IAEA control."

The timetable was announced on 9 February. It included the core issues (FMCT, PAROS, NSA, nuclear disarmament), as well as new WMD and radiological weapons, a comprehensive programme of disarmament, and transparency in armaments.

China and the Russian Federation circulated an updated and revised version of the "Compilation of Comments and Suggestions to the CD PAROS Working Paper CD/1679," which was welcomed by various sides.

Participants discussed the necessity of establishing an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament. While the G21 continued to support the establishment of this committee, France indicated that the committee would be redundant as soon as the negotiations on the FMCT started.

The meeting on 2 March had a special focus on nuclear disarmament. In this context, specific attention was given to the issue of transparency.

On 14 March, Ambassador Park of the Republic of Korea introduced a non-paper: a "Compilation of proposals and observations on Agenda Items 1 and 2", based on the focused debate on nuclear disarmament under his presidency. Russia welcomed the non-paper as "a bold step" that would hopefully set an example to be followed during sessions on other agenda items. The Netherlands noted that while it "may not reflect everything every delegation has said, [...] it surely is a very useful tool to recall and to understand the gist of our debate." Other delegations noted that they wished the non-paper would follow the two tracks of assessment of nuclear reductions and proposals for future nuclear disarmament measures. Malaysia stated that nuclear disarmament was not being addressed directly and extensively. Pakistan regretted the selectiveness of the compilation, holding that it therefore "can only be a non-paper that has no status at all."

2006 Second Part

The second session of the Conference on Disarmament, presided over by Ambassador Doru Costea of Romania, opened on 16 May. The first plenary meeting focused on debate over a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT). Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, and Switzerland submitted working papers in this regard. On 18 May, the United States introduced a draft FMCT along with a draft mandate for its negotiations.

China and the Russian Federation submitted proposals on prevention of the weaponization of outer space. A number of member states called for the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee on PAROS. DPRK referred to their 19 May statement, wherein they said they would rejoin the NPT if the United States demonstrated the political will to abide by and execute its responsibilities under the Joint Statement of the Six-Party talks. Other important themes discussed at the session included new weapons of mass destruction and radiological weapons, and nuclear terrorism. Myanmar declared that nuclear disarmament was its priority in the Conference and called for the swift establishment of an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament.

At the plenary meeting on 21 June, the secretary-general of the United Nations—Kofi Annan—addressed the CD. In a strong statement, he cautioned that the world was "sleepwalking" down a path on which increasing numbers of states find themselves obliged to acquire nuclear weapons. He asserted that the CD had the "collective power to wake the world up" to the dangers of nuclear weapons and ensure that the issue of disarmament would be featured prominently in the international agenda. He referred to the two urgent crises facing the NPT — confidence and compliance — and called for "devaluing the currency of nuclear weapons." Annan emphasized the urgent need to resolve the issues of the DPRK and Iran's nuclear programmes. He welcomed the CD's agreement to work on an agreed schedule, noting these positive developments as indications that the CD was ready to make significant and productive contributions. He concluded by urging member states to put their "differences and well-rehearsed arguments" behind them, and rise to the challenge of defining security policies that would lead to a safer, more peaceful world.

2006 Third Part

The third session of the Conference on Disarmament opened on 3 August 2006. The first plenary meeting, held that same day, was a focused debate on Negative Security Assurances (NSA). Here, the debate continued over the proper place to hold the debate, within the CD or outside the CD as part of NPT negotiations.

A comprehensive programme for disarmament was the subject of the 10 August plenary meeting. A draft of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) that would be presented at the first committee was presented and discussed among the members of the conference.

At the plenary meeting held on 17 August, the representative from Japan spoke on NSAs and argued that positive security assurances might work better, and asked the members of the conference to consider the effectiveness of a globally legally binding instrument rather than regional agreements tied to NWFZs.

Transparency in Armaments (TIA) was the subject of a focused debate beginning on 23 August. Germany, Russia, and Italy expressed their desire to move ahead with a programme of work under the A5 Proposal. In this and future meetings, Israel and Syria engaged in a heated debate over the situation in the Middle East. Syria expressed outrage at the use of cluster munitions and phosphorous weapons by Israel in its attacks on Lebanon in response to the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah.

At the 24 August meeting, Mr. Tariq Rauf, head of the IAEA's Verification and Security Policy Coordination, presented on verification and the FMCT. He argued that an FMCT would strengthen Article VI of the NPT and that a strong verification mechanism would be the only way to ensure compliance with an FMCT. He contended that such a mechanism should apply to the entire fuel cycle and be comprehensive to provide the highest level of assurance. Mr. Rauf presented on the costs and benefits of different verification options. He estimated that a verification programme would cost 50-150 million Euros.

In a meeting held on 6 September, the United Kingdom, France, and the United States made it clear that they did not support the Central Asian Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone in its current form and expressed frustration that their concerns were not being addressed. They indicated that they would not support the treaty in its current condition or sign any accompanying protocols or NSA agreements required for the weapons-free zone to enter into force.

The final meeting did not produce a draft report for the General Assembly; instead, the CD went on to additional informal meetings to finalize the draft report. The establishment of a set schedule for debate, the organizational structure using "friends of the Presidents," increased coordination and cooperation among the six presidents (P6), and broad consensus and increased activity on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and FMCT were presented as positive developments that might serve as sources of momentum to move the CD forward in 2007.


The first part of the session began on 27 January and concluded on 1 April 2005. The second part occurred from 2 June to 15 July. The third took place from 8 August to 23 September 2005.

2005 First Part

The 2005 session of the Conference of Disarmament emphasized the importance of overcoming the deadlock that had plagued the CD during the previous decade. In an opening message on 27 January, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan stressed that "disarmament was critical for conflict prevention, peace-building and the realization of the Millennium Development Goals."

At the end of the opening meeting, the conference accepted the request of an additional 33 states to participate in the conference as observers. On 8 February, the CD adopted its agenda for the 2005 session based on the agenda agreed to in the past. The agenda included the following items: cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament; prevention of nuclear war, including all related matters; prevention of an arms race in outer space; effective international arrangements to insure non-nuclear-weapon states against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, new types of weapons of mass destruction, new systems of such weapons, and radiological weapons; comprehensive programmes of disarmament; transparency in armaments; and consideration of the annual report and any other report, as appropriate, to the General Assembly of the United Nations.

At this meeting, conference president Ambassador Chris Sanders of the Netherlands, announced an absence of consensus on the establishment of any subsidiary bodies or mandates during the first two weeks of the conference, indicating a continued lack of consensus on the A5 proposed agenda (CD/1693/Rev1).

The A5 proposal, drafted by five ambassadors to the Conference on Disarmament at the 932nd plenary meeting on 26 June 2003, outlined a programme of work for the meetings. The proposal suggested the establishment of four Ad Hoc Committees, each tasked with negotiating an agreement on the topics of negative security assurances, nuclear disarmament, FMCT, and PAROS. The Ad Hoc Committees would then present a report of their progress for the session to the general conference. In addition, the A5 proposal calls for three special coordinators, each tasked with gathering the views of conference members on how best to approach questions relating to new types of WMD, a comprehensive programme of disarmament, and transparency in armaments.

In the last week of his presidency of the CD, Ambassador Sanders presented a non-paper entitled "Food for thought on a CD Programme of Work," which extended the recommendation of the A5 proposal, suggesting Ad Hoc Committees for four agenda topics: nuclear disarmament, FMCT, PAROS, and negative security assurances. Despite the non-paper, the A5 proposal still failed to gather a consensus.

During the first part of the conference, statements from multiple states were issued concerning a number of topics. The first weeks of open debate and discussion were characterized by discussions on the CD's past deadlock and proposals to overcome the impasse. Beginning in February, the main focus of the conference shifted to members' efforts to remove and destroy their anti-personnel landmines. The conference responded with discussion about the Nairobi Action Plan and its successes, encouraging the United States, a non-party to the plan, to adopt its tenets. Many member states voiced their support for the Nairobi Action Plan.

Another topic of discussion at the CD was the FMCT. Members recognized that the CD's failure to reach a consensus on the FMCT, particularly on the issue of verification, undermined not only the effectiveness of the CD, but also the security of the world.

The ambassador of Japan also suggested that the rotating presidency system of the Conference on Disarmament be abandoned in favor of something that would provide more stability.

2005 Second Part

The second part of the 2005 Conference on Disarmament began by noting the "abysmal failure" of the 2005 NPT Review Conference. According to Ambassador Joseph Ayalogu of Nigeria, the conference's current president, the Review Conference "widened the gap" between the divergent positions of the members of the CD. The most contentious issues for the CD continued to be negotiations over the FMCT, negative security assurances, and PAROS.

At the second plenary meeting of the second session on 9 June, Russia and China presented their non-paper entitled "Definition Issues regarding Legal Instruments on the Prevention and Weaponization of Outer Space." This non-paper was one of several submitted by two countries on the PAROS issue. Both countries announced their intention to create an open-ended group to discuss all non-papers on PAROS presented during the conference.

At the 17 June plenary meeting, Ambassador Wegger Strømmen of Norway assumed presidency of the CD. He proposed that each of the four plenary meetings under his presidency adhere to a theme: nuclear disarmament, fissile material cut-off, outer space, and security assurances. The proposal received broad support from member states.

The plenary on 23 June was dedicated to the discussion of nuclear disarmament. Twenty-eight countries offered statements regarding disarmament, most noting that nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation were mutually reinforcing processes. Members agreed that the failure of the NPT Review Conference placed a larger burden on the CD to resolve its impasse.

The plenary on 28 June centered on discussion of the FMCT. While most delegates stressed the importance of FMCT negotiations occurring as soon as possible, others outlined the need to come to a consensus first on a universally applicable treaty prohibiting the production of fissile material without preconditions. An immediate moratorium on material production was also suggested, as was consideration of whether the treaty would cap existing stocks or only halt future production of fissile materials.

On 30 June, the plenary discussed PAROS exclusively. Twenty-one members delivered statements, many noting that the existing legal framework was inadequate for preventing an arms race in outer space. It was also noted, however, that there was no international consensus on any further treaties, and a treaty limiting weaponization of outer space would face great difficulty in verification.

The final thematic plenary was held on 7 July and focused on negative security assurances. Members considered the possibility of a legally binding instrument for negative security assurances (NSAs), and some proposed the idea of recreating an Ad Hoc Committee to address the issue. Most members agreed that a legal framework for NSAs would need to be accomplished through the NPT.

At the final plenary of the second session on 14 July, Ambassador Masood Khan of Pakistan assumed the presidency. At the meeting, China and Russia announced that they would hold an open-ended meeting on PAROS on 16 August 2005.

2005 Third Part

The third session opened on 11 August with statements on arms control and disarmament through multilateral efforts, the NPT Review Conference and six-party talks, as well as national security interests and international terrorism. Several states recommended ways to overcome the conference's impasse.

At the 18 August plenary meeting, France submitted a paper on "out-of-the-box" issues that could help break the deadlock by focusing on new issues as they relate to the CD agenda and Programme of Work. The paper was based on a brainstorming session of several Member States at the first informal plenary meeting. It argued that certain issues should be pursued in addition to the traditional CD agenda to provide a fresh outlook. The most important issue raised was prevention of terrorist acquisition of WMD; other issues included compliance, small arms and light weapons, and export controls. States also mentioned more specific topics such as the protection of critical infrastructure, fuel-cycle technologies, radiological weapons, man-portable air-defense systems, and CD reform. The paper concluded that legally binding instruments should be pursued as a matter of priority. At the same time, a number of states expressed the belief that guidelines, declarations of principles, and other political legally binding instruments would help move the work of the CD forward again.

On 25 August, the outgoing president of the CD, Ambassador Masood Khan of Pakistan, closed with a speech deploring the lack of progress on the CD Programme of Work. Ambassador Khan emphasized the need for political will to break the deadlock.

On 1 September, the incoming president, Ambassador Manuel Rodriguez of Peru, recommended that the work of the CD be evaluated in the context of the UN reform process as well as with regard to different national perceptions of security. On 15 September, he gave a debriefing of his consultations on the Programme of Work. Ambassador Cuadros informed the conference of the four areas of agreement shared by all delegations: support for the CD negotiating mandate, desire to break the current paralysis, support for substantive working papers on areas related to the programme of work, and the desire to continue working by consensus. The draft report of the CD to the GA was introduced but not discussed.

The final session of the CD concluded on 22 September without a programme of work, for the ninth year in a row. Prior to the meeting, the "Food for Thought" non-paper was presented on 12 September by the Netherlands, representing a further amendment to the Five Ambassador (A5) proposal.

Informal discussions were held during the session on the CD president's draft decision on a proposal for a programme of work. All three proposals suggest the establishment of the same four ad hoc committees: FMCT, PAROS, NSAs and nuclear disarmament.
The president's paper merges the stronger language on NSAs in the A5 proposal with the weaker language on NSAs of the "Food for Thought" non-paper, while retaining the non-paper's specification of no pre-conditions for negotiations on an FMCT. Like the non-paper, the president's paper has the same language on nuclear disarmament as the A5 proposal, and nearly the same language on PAROS, with the notable exception of removal of the important phrase "including the possibility of negotiating [a] relevant international legal instrument."


2004 First Part

The first two weeks of the 2004 session of the Conference on Disarmament were dedicated to opening statements and general debate. On 27 January, the CD adopted by consensus the agenda (document CD/WP.533) for its 2004 session. The agenda included issues pertaining to the cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament; prevention of nuclear war; prevention of an arms race in outer space; effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons; new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons; radiological weapons; a comprehensive programme of disarmament; transparency in armaments; and consideration and adoption of the annual report and any other report to the General Assembly. Statements and debates were expected to continue throughout February and into March during the first part of the CD's 2004 session.

In the final days of the first session, several important topics on disarmament were addressed. Statements were heard from Sri Lanka, Spain, Algeria, Romania, the United States and many others concerning the current status of disarmament worldwide. Sri Lanka noted its support for the establishment of an ad hoc committee in the Conference to negotiate a multilateral treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. Spain, in the aftermath of the 11 March terrorist bombings in Madrid, encouraged member states to move beyond the 8-year long impasse in an effort to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, especially given their potential use by terrorist groups. The Algerian delegation reaffirmed that disarmament should be the Conference's major priority so that "the planet could be definitively spared this version of the apocalypse." While the U.S. unveiled a new policy on landmines, it also noted that it could not agree to a suggested nuclear weapons convention or a timetable on disarmament. The president of the CD closed the meeting by emphasizing that the priority for the Conference is to adopt a definitive programme of work so that it could pick up its substantive work, which had been interrupted for so long.

2004 Second Part

The second session of the 2004 Conference on Disarmament began 13 May. Based on a proposal from Conference President Pablo Macedo of Mexico, the CD began structured informal plenaries on substantive issues. Participants stated that the informal plenary sessions, which allowed discussion of issues behind closed doors, encouraged transparency and assisted in the effectiveness of the meeting. Members noted that they see the informal plenaries as an opportunity to identify common denominators that would help to forge a consensus.

A discussion of the First Anniversary Meeting of the Proliferation Security Initiative was also an important topic in the first weeks of the session. The aims of the meeting included emphasizing the Proliferation Security Initiative as a global initiative, further development of international support for its aims and objectives, and promotion of broad international cooperation and participation in the initiative's activities. The Arab Group also emphasized its regional commitment to nuclear disarmament, highlighting the importance of a regional commitment to disarmament in the Middle East.

Outer-space safety remained a high-priority concern for member states. The CD, however, was far from a consensus. Members discussed the possibility of considering "other avenues" of peace in space in the short term, including a moratorium on the testing and development of space-based weapons.

The conference also discussed the recently adopted G-8 Action Plan on Nonproliferation. The plan included the expansion of the Proliferation Security Initiative, which "demonstrates in a concrete way how dozens of countries can agree to work together toward a common security." The G-8 Action Plan also called for the expansion of the Global Partnership and a one-year moratorium on "new transfers of uranium enrichment and reprocessing technology to additional states."

The closing remarks of the session emphasized the polarized nature of the members of the conference. An array of speakers listed upcoming challenges to the group, among them terrorism, FMCT negotiations, and radiological weapons.

2004 Third Part

The third session of the 2004 Conference on Disarmament began with the U.S. announcement in the first official plenary that it had completed its policy review of the FMCT. U.S. Ambassador Jackie Sanders stated that ratification of the FMCT is important, although it will most likely face serious difficulties before its verification. Member states expressed their satisfaction with the long-awaited U.S. review of the FMCT, stating that the time was ripe for negotiation.

Ambassador Sanders also noted the importance of an international ban on the sale and export of "persistent land mines." Some member states responded with concern that though the United States had made an "important contribution" to the problem, the U.S. proposal might undermine the more comprehensive ban required by the Ottawa Convention by allowing countries to opt for the less stringent option.

Beginning on 26 August, the conference made new contributions to the discussion of banning weapons in outer space, which sparked a week of discussions almost entirely devoted to PAROS. Russia and China distributed a non-paper that discussed verification of implementation and a review of existing international law related to weaponization of outer space. Among topics specifically addressed were the need for a moratorium on placement of weapons in outer space and the further consolidation of international opinion on a legal commitment to prevent the proliferation of weapons in space. Many countries supported the suggestion of an Ad Hoc Committee to address the problem.

On 7 September, the third session of the 2004 conference reached its conclusion. The final report of the conference noted that, although there was a goal of consensus and the creation of multiple informal proposals, the group had not agreed on a programme of work, nor had it established any mechanisms on any specific agenda items. While the informal plenary meetings were constructive, the conference members felt they were not sufficient efforts to overcome the impasse of the CD.

The conference did adopt a decision designed to enhance the participation of civil society in its efforts. The decision called for one informal plenary meeting per annual session allocated to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). This meeting would be allocated, the decision stipulates, after the conference has adopted its programme of work.

President of the conference, Ambassador Mya Than of Myanmar, noted that despite all efforts, the conference had still not achieved a programme of work, although progress had been made in certain areas. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued a statement saying that disarmament was of great importance and that recent events inspired a new demand for multilateral action. Annan stressed that political will was a key factor in overcoming the impasse of the conference and that he hoped it could achieve consensus at the 2005 CD.


The dates of the 2003 sessions of the Conference on Disarmament were 21 January through 28 March, 12 May through 26 June, and 28 July through September 10.

The CD opened its annual session on 21 January 2003 with a message from Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He urged an end to the impasse the CD has experienced in the last four years, during which the CD was consistently unable to reach consensus on a programme of work. According to the Secretary-General, this deadlock could be "a reflection of broader problems in multilateral diplomacy." The Secretary-General stressed the importance of the CD's ability in 2003 to face profound challenges in the form of WMD and their delivery systems, increased military expenditures, and the prospect of an arms race in outer space. Of particular concern to the Secretary-General was the ability of the CD to lead important negotiations, including a ban on the production of fissile material for weapons purposes.

2003 First Part

The first part of the annual session began with statements by the conference's then-president, Rakesh Sood of India. Sood noted that "consultations since the adjournment of the 2002 session had shown a growing consensus that the problem facing the Conference was a political problem and that attention to the Conference's procedures and methods of work did not appear to be an approach that was going to work." He called on Member States to consider what steps would be necessary for the Conference to reach its potential as an effective forum on disarmament issues. Special emphasis was placed on new threats to international peace and security via terrorism and WMD, the need for debate on radiological weapons, and a renewed sense of political will and determination among Member States.

Throughout the first part of the 2003 session, the CD heard statements from the following countries: Japan, Cuba, Senegal, the United States, Austria, Iraq, the Netherlands, Italy, Egypt, China, Kenya, Turkey, Ireland, India, Bulgaria, Belgium, Switzerland, Romania, the United Kingdom, Slovenia, Lithuania, the Syrian Arab Republic, Canada, France, and Mexico.

One of the key debates during the first part of the CD session was the situation in Iraq. The United States received substantial criticism from various members for acting unilaterally in its foreign policy approach toward Iraq and its mission to force the country to eliminate WMD. Another issue of critical importance was the withdrawal of the Government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Additional issues that were addressed during the meeting were support for efforts to adopt a verification protocol to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW), and U.S. policy towards the nuclear programme of the DPRK. Various other informal meetings during the first part of the session addressed issues such as the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT), prevention of an arms race in outer space, disarmament efforts in the Middle East, and the Conference's continuing difficulties in reaching agreement on a programme of work. In addition, the issue of women's participation in the disarmament community was addressed.

Incoming president Mary Whelan of Ireland began her responsibilities during the first part of the CD session by addressing the Conference's inability to reach agreement on its work programme. She stated that she was dedicated to contributing to the resolution of the CD's deadlock. She noted that the Conference's relevance would be seriously questioned if it remained inactive on multilateral disarmament issues while strongly encouraging the Group of Five Ambassadors (Algeria, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Sweden), who submitted a proposal for a programme of work, to continue their effort for a possible agreement on the proposal.

The CD president also encouraged Member States to consider the issue of participation of civil society in the work of the CD. They discussed possible ways for NGOs to participate in the CD (e.g., to make statements in the plenary meeting, to distribute documents outside the Conference room). However, they did not reach any agreement on this issue.

Towards the end of the first part of the session, intense debate erupted in the CD over the situation in Iraq as the United States embarked upon "Operation Iraqi Freedom" beginning March 20, 2003.

Further discussion on the FMCT, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Small Arms Document, the United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production, and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction continued during the last meeting of the first part of the session. Representatives from Romania, Switzerland, Lithuania, the United Kingdom, Slovenia, and Japan discussed most of these issues and reported on each country's individual progress.

The first part of the 2003 Conference on Disarmament concluded with debates between the United States, the United Kingdom and Iraq about the actions of the United States. The United States maintained that Iraq had failed to comply with the UN Security Council and the weapons inspectors and therefore posed a threat to the Middle East region in terms of its WMD capabilities. Iraq held the position that its government had cooperated with the weapons inspectors and had given them every possibility to complete their mission prior to U.S. intervention.

2003 Second Part

Incoming president of the conference Mario E. Maiolini of Italy stressed the "importance of the forum as the only comprehensive negotiating body on disarmament at the disposal of the international community." Other representatives emphasized the need to remember the issue of security, particularly against the threat of nuclear weapons. Non-nuclear countries expressed concern over the number of nuclear warheads still being kept by nuclear weapon states.

The majority of States expressed their support for or welcomed the "Five Ambassadors" (A5) proposal. Some countries did not pronounce their opinions, however, though they did not openly oppose the initiative.

There was clear disagreement concerning the mandate on possible efforts to prevent an arms race in outer space (PAROS). Emphasizing that their proposal was an "evolving" text, the Five Ambassadors encouraged States who could not accept the language of the proposal to submit suggestions or ideas so that they could amend the text.

On 26 June, 2003, the Conference on Disarmament concluded the second part of its 2003 session. Representatives from Sweden, Colombia, Canada, Romania, South Africa and Japan expressed concern and frustration over the long impasse the Conference had experienced. Romania noted that "political will, balance, compromise and consensus were the key elements for moving forward in the Conference's work." Colombia made reference to the importance of the CD and the need for work on the limitation of availability of small arms.

Belgium and Algeria emphasized the need for consensus adoption of their "Five Ambassadors" proposal as a programme of work.

In his closing remarks, president Maiolini emphasized the fact that "the achievement of a programme of work remained the main goal of the moment, and the best chance for a solution was to pursue the minimum in order to keep the Conference alive. Just what that minimum was had been emerging in recent months, and the Conference should continue to explore the possibility of consensus in the relevant areas."

2003 Third Part

On 26 June, Ambassador Lint of Belgium, on behalf of Five Ambassadors, suggested an amendment to the text of their proposal on PAROS. On 7 August, China, Russia and Ukraine stated that they accepted the PAROS mandate as suggested on 26 June and were ready to join the consensus on the amended Five Ambassadors proposal.

On 5 September, the Five Ambassadors formally submitted the amendment of their proposal to the CD (CD/1693/Rev.1). The Netherlands, Nigeria, and South Africa expressed their support for the amended text, while many others have not specified their position.

The third part of the Conference concluded on 9 September with the adoption of the annual reports. In her closing remark, President of the Conference Kuniko Inoguchi, stated that during the inter-sessional period she would continue her informal consultations with Member States on a programme of work.

She also announced that Kazakhstan, which was to take over the Presidency, declined to accept the Presidency for the 2004 session of the CD. It was therefore decided that the CD presidents for the 2004 session would be Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, and Myanmar.


The dates for the 2002 session of the CD were: January 21 to March 28, May 13 to June 28, and July 29 to September 13.

The CD concluded its 2002 session on 12 September 2002 after adopting its annual report to the UNGA. For the fourth consecutive year, the CD failed to reach a consensus on a programme of work and to engage in substantive discussions. Disagreement persisted between the key players on prioritization of issues on the CD's agenda. Some developments, however, including a new cross-group proposal on a programme of work, demonstrated greater dynamism at the Conference and gave rise to cautious optimism about the prospects for its next annual session.

2002 First Part

The CD opened its 2002 annual session on 22 January 2002 under the presidency of Mohamed Tawfik, Deputy Permanent Representative of Egypt to the United Nations in Geneva. It concluded the first part of its 2002 session without any agreement on the programme of work. The Member States disagreed on such agenda items as nuclear disarmament and PAROS.

The annual session of the Conference started in a rapidly changing security environment and with widespread concern among the Member States about its potential consequences for the work of the CD. The reactions to the events of 11 September and its aftermath demonstrated increased solidarity among most of the Member States in their desire to foster disarmament and to overcome the stalemate. Many States, however, also voiced concerns about the erosion of multilateral disarmament and arms control regimes and the renewed interest in unilateralist policies among some CD members.

The CD's stalemate was addressed by a number of high-ranking officials such as Ministers of Foreign Affairs from Sweden, Canada, Kazakhstan, and Pakistan; the Defense Minister of Romania, the Under-Secretary of State of the United States, the Secretary of State of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, and the Deputy Foreign Minister of Iran. The Conference also heard statements from delegations.

As a majority of the speakers emphasized, the recent political situation provided the CD with a "window of opportunity" to finally get back to business. Despite the intensive consultations conducted by the successive presidents (Mohamed Tawfik of Egypt, Fisseha Yimer of Ethiopia, and Markku Reimaa of Finland), however, consensus on the work programme was not reached. Moreover, towards the end of the first part of the 2002 session, it seemed that the proposal on the programme of work contained in document CD/1624 (the so-called "Amorim proposal"), which had been widely regarded as a "basis for further intensified consultations," drew more criticism from the countries that have always had reservations about it. These States criticized as a step backward from CD/1624 the efforts made by the president of the CD, Ambassador Reimaa of Finland, to launch the work of four Ad Hoc Committees, for the duration of the 2002 CD session, on nuclear disarmament, an FMCT, PAROS, and negative security assurances.

The first part of the 2002 session was marked by an important procedural decision to appoint Special Coordinators on the review of the agenda of the Conference, expansion of its membership, and improved and effective functioning. After a round of consultations among groups, the posts of the Special Coordinators were filled as follows: Ambassador Eui-Yong Chung of the Republic of Korea was appointed Special Coordinator on the review of the agenda; Ambassador Dimiter Tzanchev of Bulgaria was appointed Special Coordinator on expansion of membership of the Conference; and Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam of Sri Lanka was appointed Special Coordinator on improved and effective functioning of the CD. Although the appointment of Special Coordinators early in the session was regarded as an encouraging sign, many delegations stressed that these procedural developments should not lead to self-complacency and distract the CD from reaching a compromise on its work programme and subsequent commencement of substantive work. The CD concurred with a decision by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to appoint Mr. Sergei Ordzhonikidze, the Director General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, as the Secretary-General of the CD and his Personal Representative to the Conference. The CD also paid tribute and bid farewell to his predecessor Mr. Vladimir Petrovsky, who was retiring after nine years with the Conference.

Towards the end of the first part of the 2002 session, it became evident that positions of many delegations were influenced by anticipation of the results of the first session of the Preparatory Committee to the 2005 NPT Review Conference, held in New York on 8-12 April 2002. The period between the first and the second parts of the annual session was regarded by many delegations, including the Finnish presidency of the CD, as a time to seek greater consensus on the work programme and alternative ways of engaging the Conference in substantive work.

2002 Second Part

On 13 May, the CD started the second part of its 2002 session. The president of the conference, Ambassador Reimaa of Finland, continued consultations on his draft programme of work, which he first presented to the CD at the end of the first part of the 2002 session. The draft envisaged the establishment, for the duration of one year, of four Ad Hoc Committees on nuclear disarmament, an FMCT, PAROS, and negative security assurances, without formalizing their mandates, but making general reference to "the existing proposals and CD/1624 when initiating the work of the Conference on Disarmament."

Towards the end of his presidency, Ambassador Reimaa distributed a revised version of his proposal. A reference to the "agreed mandates," i.e., for an FMCT and negative security assurances, and two "existing proposals" (on mandates for nuclear disarmament and PAROS) were added, while a reference to the Amorim proposal (CD/1624) was dropped. Ad Hoc Committees were replaced by "subsidiary bodies," and reference to the duration of this work programme arrangement (one year) was also dropped. The revised proposal was considered at an informal plenary meeting and received support from a majority of delegations. China and Pakistan expressed reservations, while the Russian Federation voiced concerns over the ambiguity of the mandates of the proposed subsidiary bodies. At the conclusion of the meeting, the president submitted the final version of his proposal (CD/1670).

Special Coordinators (SC) on "reform issues" continued their consultations. The SC on expansion of membership and the SC on improved and effective functioning of the CD held very lively and business-like open-ended consultations. The most discussed issues included a possible limitation to the rule of consensus; modalities for participation of civil society and intergovernmental organizations (IAEA, OPCW, and CTBTO) in the proceedings of the Conference; and modification of the regional grouping system.

On 23 May 2002, South Africa submitted a working paper entitled "The Possible Scope and Requirements of the Fissile Material Treaty (FMT)" (CD/1671). In particular, the paper attempted to deal with the controversial issue of existing stocks of nuclear material, as well as to provide a practical and politically feasible solution to this problem.

The Netherlands sponsored an open-ended, informal meeting on an FMCT, which took place on 7 June 2002.

At the presidential consultations on 29 May 2002, China submitted an informal proposal on a programme of work. According to it, China would agree to the Amorim proposal if the following words were added to the language of the final paragraph dealing with the mandate of the Ad Hoc Committee on PAROS: "with a view of reaching an international legally binding instrument."

At the 907th plenary meeting of the CD on 27 June 2002, China,the Russian Federation, and five other nations submitted a joint working paper on the possible elements of a treaty on PAROS. The paper contained a basic obligation not to place weapons in outer space. From the Chinese perspective, it represented a compromise, because it did not ban using outer space for all the weapons-related purposes as the previous Chinese proposals did.

Also at the 907th meeting, the new president of the CD, Germany, made a proposal to reconsider item five of the CD's agenda ("New types of weapons of mass destruction; radiological weapons") in light of the new threats, and distributed among the delegations a working paper on this subject.

2002 Third Part

The third part of the 2002 annual session was marked by an important cross-group initiative on a programme of work by the five former presidents of the CD (Ambassador Dembri of Algeria, Ambassador Reyes of Colombia, Ambassador Vega of Chile, Ambassador Lint of Belgium, and Ambassador Salander of Sweden). The proposal was informally distributed among the delegates prior to the start of the third part of the annual session. At the 908th plenary meeting of the CD on 31 July 2002, the authors of the proposal outlined it to the Conference. The authors of the proposal sought to receive feedback from the CD members, and based on it, to decide whether to formally introduce the proposal.

The initial proposal envisaged establishing four Ad Hoc Committees (on negative security assurances, an FMCT, nuclear disarmament, and PAROS) and appointing three Special Coordinators for the duration of the rest of the 2002 session and the whole 2003 annual session. This would have necessitated amending the CD's rules of procedure, which require renewing mandates of subsidiary bodies at the beginning of each annual session. In terms of the mandates of the proposed subsidiary bodies, the proposal drew upon the earlier efforts to find a compromise formula in order to resolve a deadlock in the CD, including the Amorim proposal (CD/1624). In comparison to previous proposals, the new initiative contained several amendments. For instance, it required stocks of fissile material to be included in the scope of the future FMCT negotiations. In this regard, the new initiative differed from the so-called "Shannon mandate," which was widely regarded as the basis for the future FMCT negotiations.

Following a month-long consultation process, the new cross-group proposal on a programme of work was formally presented to the CD at the 912th plenary meeting on 29 August 2002. The revised version opted for a presidential declaration instead of a preamble, and it no longer required modification of the CD rules of procedure in regard to the necessity to renew the mandates of subsidiary bodies at the beginning of each annual session. It called for the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee on negative security assurances with a mandate to negotiate effective international arrangements, which "could take the form of an international legally binding instrument" and an Ad Hoc Committee to deal with nuclear disarmament. It further recommended an Ad Hoc Committee to negotiate an FMCT, whose mandate was modified so that the reference to stocks contained in the wording of the initial version submitted in July was eliminated. Finally, there would be an Ad Hoc Committee to deal with PAROS, which should "identify and examine... any specific topics or proposals, which could include confidence building or transparency measures, general principles, treaty commitments and the elaboration of a regime capable of preventing an arms race in outer space."

Ambassador Dembri of Algeria noted that the establishment of three Ad Hoc Committees (namely, on negative security assurances, FMCT, and nuclear disarmament), as well as the appointment of three Special Coordinators enjoyed more or less universal support among the delegations, or at least this support was evolving in a favorable direction, while the issue of PAROS remained a point of contention. Ambassador Dembri noted again the wide gap between China's approach to a programme of work, which he termed "maximalist", and the U.S. approach, which he called a "minimalist" one.

The reactions of the CD members to the new modified proposal were generally favorable. However, China and the United States again demonstrated disagreement between their approaches to the work of the CD. China tabled a proposal stating its willingness to agree to the 2000 Amorim proposal on the programme of work if the PAROS Ad Hoc Committee were established with a view to reaching a legally binding agreement (CD/1682). The United States stated that the offer made by China remained unacceptable to it. The United States stressed that any proposal on PAROS would be acceptable to it only if it did not pre-judge where the discussions would lead.

Some of the members of the Western Group also criticized the Chinese position on PAROS. At the same time Russia and a number of G21 states expressed their support for the Chinese position. A number of countries also praised the joint Russian-Chinese working paper on PAROS.

On 15 August, the CD held informal consultations on the issue of radiological weapons, as proposed earlier by Germany. Views diverged on whether consideration of radiological weapons should take into account the already existing experience of the CD, which had considered this item in 1980-1992, or to start anew. Many states expressed a view that the CD's efforts in this area should not duplicate the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) related to protection of radioactive materials. Some countries raised the issues of scope of the potential convention and definitions of radioactive sources. Some states questioned the necessity of a convention on radiological weapons, arguing that such weapons do not exist and are unlikely to appear in the future because they lack military utility. These issues were extremely controversial and had prevented the CD from reaching a consensus on this item in the past. The conference agreed to inform the IAEA of the debate.

Among other developments, the CD heard statements from the Special Coordinators on procedural issues. The Coordinators as in the previous year reported no consensus among the members of the CD on the reform of the CD agenda, the expansion of its membership, and improved and effective functioning of the Conference. In its Annual Report to the General Assembly, the CD adopted a recommendation to reappoint the Special Coordinators on procedural issues during the 2003 annual session.

At its final plenary meeting, the CD adopted its annual report to the 57th session of the United Nations General Assembly. In this report, inter alia, the CD requested that the current president and the incoming president conduct appropriate consultations during the intersessional period and, if possible, make recommendations, taking into account all existing proposals and views presented and discussions held in the 2002 session. While agreeing that priority should be given to substantive work, the CD recommended that Special Coordinators on procedural issues be appointed, if deemed necessary, during its 2003 session.


Dates for the 2001 CD session were: January 22 to March 30, May 14 to June 29, and July 30 to September 14.

2001 First Part

The new president of the CD, Ambassador Christopher Westdal of Canada, attempted to secure the members' consensus on a programme of work based on the Amorim proposal (CD/1624), which received support from most countries. However, it became apparent that the key players were not yet ready to make concessions given the difficult political climate and with the national missile defense issue at center stage. The statements by the Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Inam ul Haque at the opening Plenary of the 2001 Session, in addition to statements by China and the United States, once again reinforced the sense that reaching agreement on PAROS and an FMCT in particular, and on the programme of work in general, was impossible.

Given the stalemate over the key issues of the programme of work, some countries proposed that the Conference could do something in the meantime. Myanmar put forward a "Plan B" proposal, saying that pending an agreement on the programme of work, the CD should convene plenary meetings devoted to substantive items on its agreed agenda. Delegations would be encouraged to submit their proposals on substantive items in order to make optimum use of the plenary meetings while efforts to reach agreement on the programme of work continue. This proposal enjoyed the support of some delegations.

Other delegations cautioned the Conference against such a solution, which might reduce the relevance of the CD as a negotiating body. New Zealand and South Africa suggested strengthening the Amorim proposal to adequately reflect the NPT undertakings with respect to the issues of nuclear disarmament and an FMCT. This approach, supported by Canada and several other countries, was designed to prevent "thematic discussions" that risked providing convenient cover for those who did not want to engage in real negotiations and to maintain the pressure on key players to fulfill pledges made at the 2000 NPT Review Conference.

2001 Second Part

In the beginning of the second part of the 2001 session, on 17 May 2001, the Conference managed to adopt a decision to appoint three Special Coordinators: one to review the CD's agenda (Ambassador Günther Seibert of Germany), a second to review its membership (Ambassador Petko Draganov of Bulgaria), and a third to review its working methods (Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam of Sri Lanka). That was the first decision taken by the Conference in almost three years.

Russia tabled an official proposal on PAROS and nuclear disarmament. The proposal provided for the establishment of two Ad Hoc Committees (AHC) on the two issues. The nuclear disarmament AHC would "deal with" the topic and "take into consideration all relevant views and proposals," and also "address questions related to its mandate," while the PAROS AHC would negotiate with a view to reaching agreement on a regime (an internationally legally binding instrument) capable of preventing an arms race in outer space. The proposal marked the first time that Russia had supported the establishment of an AHC on nuclear disarmament in the CD. China supported the proposal. China said the "Treaty on the Prevention of the Weaponization of Outer Space" should contain four basic provisions: 1) "not to test, deploy, or use in outer space any weapons, weapons systems or their components;" 2) "not to test, deploy or use on land, at sea or atmosphere any weapons, weapon systems or their components that can be used for war-fighting in outer space;" 3) "not to use any objects launched into orbit to directly participate in combatant activities;" and 4) "not to assist or encourage other countries, regions, international organizations or entities to participate in activities prohibited by this legal instrument."

In the meantime, some delegations were reportedly holding informal consultations on the possibility of preparing for FMCT negotiations outside the CD framework to expedite the work on this issue. The FMCT negotiations would be transferred back to the CD as soon as it agreed on a work programme. During the May 2001 meeting dedicated to this matter, many divergent views were expressed, while some countries, namely China and Pakistan, opted not to attend. A great number of delegations supported the initiative, however, and participated in a Japan-Australia-organized seminar entitled "Geneva Workshop on a treaty to ban the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices."

2001 Third Part

Upon the commencement of the third part of the 2001 session, the three Special Coordinators on the CD's agenda, functioning, and membership reported no agreement on these three items.

After the 2001 session, the CD was still unable to break the deadlock over its programme of work, although the majority of the delegations still recognized the "Amorim proposal" (CD/1624) as the basis for continuing consultations to reach agreement on this. The CD recommended that Special Coordinators on procedural issues be reappointed the following year. Given US efforts to develop and deploy NMD, PAROS became the main bone of contention in the CD, with China and Russia in particular pressing hard for negotiations. At the same time, the long-awaited negotiations on an FMCT still had their active and strong supporters, who looked at ways to make progress outside the CD. Reportedly, a number of delegations were planning cutbacks in their CD delegations, including possible withdrawals of disarmament ambassadors, until more promising times.


The dates for the 2000 session of the CD were: 17 January to 24 March, 22 May to 7 July, and 7 August to 22 September.

The CD entered its 2000 session after having failed to agree on its programme of work in 1999 or to engage in substantive work for three consecutive years. This situation caused a sense of deep frustration among the CD members who questioned the very existence of the Conference due to its inability to address pressing matters of disarmament and nonproliferation. Several delegations even raised the issue of establishing an alternative body to deal with these matters. In March, Germany, on behalf of 22 countries, proposed that the CD should first address the issues on which agreement had already been reached while continuing to discuss outstanding items to find compromise solutions. This position came into conflict with that of certain countries, namely China, which insisted on the comprehensive and balanced nature of the programme of work. Germany also argued that the programme of work should address the real problems of international security.

The CD presidents, through informal presidential consultations and meetings of the regional groups, tried to lead the Conference out of the deadlock by crafting various compromise drafts of the programme of work. In the beginning of the 2000 session, the outgoing president, Ambassador Harald Kreid of Austria, declared the Dembri Proposal set forth during the 1999 session as the "point of departure" for reaching an agreement on the programme of work. The following presidential proposals reflected the ideas and spirit of the Dembri Proposal while containing "more acceptable language" for the Member States. Ambassador Kreid's proposal contained three possible options for the programme of work. Option 1 provided for appointment of SC on PAROS and nuclear disarmament as well as the re-establishment of the subsidiary bodies and the SC with their mandates on all other substantial items, including an FMCT. Option 2 excluded the FMCT from that list but contained a non-negotiated statement by the president with regard to this item. Option 3—a minimum option—contained appointment of SC on PAROS and nuclear disarmament with submission by the president of his proposal as an official CD document concerning the re-establishment of the subsidiary bodies and re-appointment of SC with their mandates on all other substantial items. The proposal by the president, Ambassador Martynov of Belarus, contained priority and contingency actions. The former provided for the continuation of presidential consultations on setting up subsidiary bodies on outstanding issues, while the latter considered holding informal focused plenary meetings on all issues of substance on a rotation basis until the programme of work was adopted. The proposal by the president, Ambassador Jean Lint of Belgium (CD/1620), included establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee to negotiate an FMCT, an Ad Hoc Working Group to deal with nuclear disarmament "through an exchange of information and views on practical steps for progressive and systematic efforts to attain this objective," and an Ad Hoc Working Group "to examine and identify specific topics or proposals that might be a basis for subsequent in-depth consideration" of the issue of PAROS. The proposal by Celso Amorim of Brazil in August followed closely Lint's proposal and provided for establishment of four Ad Hoc Committees to deal with fissile material, PAROS, nuclear disarmament, and negative security assurances. This proposal, however, failed to alleviate China's concerns about a balanced approach to the issues. In China's view, Amorim's proposed mandates for Ad Hoc Committees were differently weighted — they proposed a negotiation mandate for an FMCT, and only a discussion mandate for PAROS. By the end of the 2000 Session (22 September), neither of the proposals enjoyed consensus, and the CD's prospects for starting substantive work early in 2001 were very slim.

In 2000, there continued to be a lack of consensus regarding PAROS and nuclear disarmament. Moreover, conditions outside the Conference (namely, setbacks concerning the failure of the CTBT to enter into forceand US plans to deploy NMD) worsened the prospect of attaining consensus on these items. Some countries proposed that an Ad Hoc Committee to start negotiations on a phased programme of nuclear disarmament and eventual elimination of nuclear weapons should be established as soon as possible. Other Member States called on the CD to establish an Ad Hoc Committee to negotiate an international legally binding mechanism preventing the weaponization of outer space by prohibiting testing, deploying, and using weapons and weapon systems there. None of the aforementioned proposals reached consensus in the Conference. The problem became even more acute when the issue of an FMCT joined the group of unresolved issues following the change in position of China. China linked negotiation on an FMCT with negotiation on PAROS and nuclear disarmament, thus blocking any possible progress to re-establish the Ad Hoc Committee on the negotiation of an FMCT in particular and adoption of the programme of work in general. On the other side, certain countries regarded issues of nuclear disarmament and PAROS as less important than the the FMCT and thus refused to include them in the package. The United States stuck to the position that nuclear disarmament and PAROS were not ripe for treaty negotiations in the CD because there was no consensus on proposals for such negotiations. Such a consensus, however, had been reached with respect to an FMCT, as reflected in the "Principles and Objectives" document of the 1995 NPT Review Conference. Following the successful outcome of the 2000 NPT Review Conference, states expected a start of substantive work on these issues. Great differences with respect to approaching an FMCT and PAROS, however, mainly voiced by China, the United States, and Russia, continued to prevent the CD from adopting its programme of work and getting down to substantive work. The US-China debate on the issue of NMD and the relationship between an FMCT and PAROS sometimes resembled polemics in the Cold War-style and became sharper in tone than ever before. The United States went as far as accusing China of attempting to block negotiations on the FMCT by holding them hostage to PAROS. By the end of the 2000 session, all attempts to agree on the programme of work or at least the programme of work for 2001 were unsuccessful.

The stalemate in the CD triggered a discussion on the rules of procedure of the Conference. Some Member States called for "procedural reform" of the CD. Certain delegations proposed that the rule of consensus should be abolished, at least with respect to decisions on procedural matters such as the programme of work or appointment of SC and establishment of subsidiary bodies. Some delegations also voiced a desire to change the procedure that necessitated the re-establishment of subsidiary bodies each session. Many delegations were reluctant to do anything requiring a reform of the CD's rules of procedure, however, particularly regarding the consensus rule. In view of the miserable state of affairs in the Conference at the turn of the new millennium, the CD raised the question of attracting more high-level attention to its work in the capitals of Members States. The outgoing Deputy Secretary-General of the CD Abdelkader Bensmail argued, however, that that deadlock was not due to the CD's rules of procedure, working methods, or its group system. Rather, he maintained, the political will and unfavorable political climate between the major players were the chief causes of the Conference's difficulties.

Closing its 2000 session for the fourth consecutive year without having begun any negotiations or established subsidiary bodies, the CD adopted its annual report to the UNGA on 21 September 2000. The report noted that the CD had conducted intensive consultations and considered both formal and informal proposals without having agreed on the programme of work and without having established any mechanism for any of its agenda items. Costa Rica expressed its desire to join the CD as a permanent member.


It was hoped that negotiations on a treaty to ban the production of fissile material for explosives (FMCT) would begin during the 1999 session of the CD. Due to both internal and external factors, however, the Conference was unable to adopt a programme of work for the year, thus preventing the re-establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee to resume the work begun in August of 1998. Despite successive efforts of CD presidents, CD members could not reach consensus on how to treat two agenda items — nuclear disarmament and PAROS — within the work programme. Many of the non-aligned states pressed for an Ad Hoc Committee on nuclear disarmament, stating that the troika consultations of the preceding year were not a permanent solution. The NWS, however, were reluctant to agree to anything more involved than the troika arrangement. China led the effort to re-establish an Ad Hoc Committee on PAROS. However, the United States was unwilling to address the issue multilaterally.

The "Dembri Proposal," named after Ambassador Mohamed-Salah Dembri (Algeria) who held the presidency during the second session of the 1999 Conference, called for both an Ad Hoc Working Group "with a view to preventing the weaponization of outer space" and an Ad Hoc Working Group "to exchange information and views on endeavors towards nuclear disarmament." The CD, however, was unable to achieve consensus on either of these issues. During the third part of the Conference, the CD admitted five new members: Ecuador, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, and Tunisia. These countries — representing diverse geo-political regions as well as distinct groups within the CD structure — were admitted after member countries dropped their lingering reservations.


On 26 March 1998, the CD adopted its programme of work, contained in document CD/1501. Based on this programme, the CD decided to establish an Ad Hoc Committee on negative security assurances. To address nuclear disarmament issues, the CD established a mechanism of consultations held under the auspices of the presidential "troika" consisting of the past, present, and incoming presidents. The CD also appointed six SC to address PAROS, a comprehensive programme of disarmament, transparency in armaments, a review of its agenda, the expansion of its membership, and its improved and effective functioning. On 11 August, the CD established an Ad Hoc Committee to negotiate an FMCT to ban the production of fissile material for weapons purposes.

Nuclear disarmament was the most pervasive point of contention in the CD. Due to widespread differences of opinion on how to proceed, it was not possible to reach an agreement on the establishment of a mechanism to negotiate nuclear disarmament issues. The non-aligned states continued to stress the utmost importance of nuclear disarmament, while a number of other delegations, including some from the Western group, supported the idea of establishing a consultative mechanism to facilitate cooperation, information sharing, and accountability in nuclear disarmament matters. A considerable number of delegations considered the presidential "troika" consultations useful in addressing the issue. In his final report to the CD, the outgoing president recommended that the Conference resume the troika consultations in its next session in 1999.

According to the decision, contained in document CD/1501, the CD agreed to establish an Ad Hoc Committee under agenda item 4 entitled "Effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons." The Committee was established to negotiate an international legally binding instrument that would assure NNWS protection against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. The Committee's discussions primarily focused on the nature and scope of currently existing positive and negative security assurances, as expressed in nuclear weapon States' declarations and the protocols to the nuclear-weapon-free-zone treaties..It also addressed certain definitions that required clarification, in particular, such as "aggression," "attack," "invasion," "dependent territories," "associations and alliances," and "security commitments." The Committee, however, was unable to reach any consensus on how to deal with these issues. The Chairman's final report (CD/1554) on the work of the Committee noted that there was no consensus reached on these issues, provided a list of all the relevant documents, and compiled in its annex a summary of all the views and national positions. The report also included a recommendation that the work of the Committee be resumed in 1999.


In 1994, the CD appointed a Special Coordinator, Ambassador Gerald Shannon (Canada), to seek the views of its members on the most appropriate arrangement to negotiate a nondiscriminatory, multilateral, internationally verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices (FMCT). After 14 months of consultations, the CD agreed, on 23 March 1995, on a mandate for FMCT negotiations based on UNGA resolution 48/75L (of 16 December 1993). The 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference called for the "immediate commencement and early conclusion of negotiations" on an FMCT, as have subsequent NPT PrepComs. During the 1995, 1996, and 1997 sessions of the CD, while consultations continued no agreement was reached on establishing an Ad Hoc Committee on this item. On 11 August 1998, the CD adopted a decision contained in document CD/1547 on the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee on the ban on production of fissile material under agenda item 1, on the basis of the 1995 Shannon report and the mandate contained therein (CD/1299). Following the adoption of that decision, the president read out his statement in which he stressed that the decision was made "without prejudice to any further decisions on the establishment of further subsidiary bodies under agenda item 1," and ensured the pursuance of intensive consultations to seek further ways to deal with the agenda item on nuclear disarmament.

In view of the limited time available for the work of the Committee before the closing of the 1998 session of the CD, it did not achieve any substantive progress and failed to resolve long-standing conflicts pertaining to the issue of nuclear stockpiles and their relation to nonproliferation and/or nuclear disarmament. The Chairman's final report on the work of the "Agenda item 1 Committee on banning fissile material production," (CD/1555) provided a list of CD documents relating to this issue.

Despite the fact that there was widespread support for dealing with the issue of PAROS, no consensus was achieved on how to proceed. The SC introduced a draft mandate for negotiating measures on PAROS, and suggested that its text serve as the basis for the renewed 1999 consultations on this issue, with an aim of reestablishing an Ad Hoc Committee on agenda item 3.

The Conference was unable to reach consensus on the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee to negotiate a ban on the transfer of anti-personnel land mines.

In his final report on the outcome of discussions under agenda item 7 on transparency in armaments (TIA), the Special Coordinator concluded that there seemed to be widespread support in the CD for the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee on this issue to negotiate an international instrument. According to the report, his consultations primarily dealt with the merits of TIA; the ways of dealing with TIA within the CD, and the scope of possible activity on the issue.

According to the Special Coordinator's final report on improved and effective functioning of the CD, the consultations focused on three main issues: 1) the question of maintaining the continuity of the work of the CD from one session to the next, 2) the question of a permanent establishment of "standing committees" to deal with substantive and technical issues, and 3) the possibility for the president to appoint "friends of the president" to facilitate discussion and communication among delegations on certain issues. There was also a proposal to formalize the mechanism of open-ended consultations. Despite the Special Coordinator's support for various proposals on these issues, there was no agreement on any of them.

While no agreement was reached on how to proceed with the review of the agenda, the Special Coordinator noted that some delegations advocated keeping the current agenda with nuclear disarmament as an item of high priority. Other delegations suggested placing all issues under the three main headings of "nuclear disarmament," "conventional disarmament," and "other items." In his final report, the Special Coordinator included a recommendation for pursuing this issue further in 1999.

Despite being very close to reaching a consensus on the adoption of the proposal made by the Special Coordinator to admit five new members representing five regions (Ecuador from Latin America, Ireland from Western Europe, Kazakhstan from Eastern Europe, Malaysia from Asia, and Tunisia from Africa), the final decision was blocked by Iran and postponed until 1999.

The CD closed its 1998 session by adopting its final report to the United Nations General Assembly on 9 September. Despite the fact that most of the May 1998 CD plenary meetings were dominated by discussions on the Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests, the annual report did not address this issue.

Point of Contact

Mr. Michael Møller (Denmark)
Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament and Personal Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations to the Conference

Thomas Markram (South Africa)
Deputy Secretary-General

Marco Kalbusch (Germany)
Secretary of the Conference on Disarmament

8-14 Avenue de la Paix
Palais des Nations, CH-1211
Phone: (41 22) 917 2100
Fax: (41 22) 917 0034

Table of Contents:

The Conference on Disarmament (CD) is the multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community. The CD and its predecessors have negotiated many multilateral arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament agreements.

This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright 2016.