The Conference on Disarmament (CD), usually located in Geneva (Switzerland), is the only international permanent body that exclusively deals with disarmament issues. The council has 65 member states and was founded in 1979. Although the CD is officially independent from the United Nations with its own rules of procedure and its own agenda, the CD takes recommendations of the General Assembly (GA) and proposals of its members into account. The conference also reports to the GA annually and is financed by the UN’s budget. In more than 35 years, the multilateral forum has taken major steps towards the promotion of worldwide disarmament and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Key documents that were developed and finally passed by the conference are the Non-Proliferation Treaty of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) of 1968, the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) of 1972, the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993 and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) of 1996 that – unfortunately – did not enter into force yet.
The provisional agenda of the Conference on Disarmament at the NMUN 2007 Conference comprised the following topics:
- Preventing an Arms Race in Outer Space,
- Improving Compliance with Non-Proliferation, Arms Limitation and Disarmament Agreements, and
- Non-State Actors and Weapons of Mass Destruction.
The formal session opened with nine statements, one of them by the Kingdom of Morocco, concerning the adoption of the agenda. Due to the fact that the Democratic Republic of North Korea had successfully tested its first nuclear bomb in October 2006 and the Islamic Republic of Iran had continuously violated and ignored the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, there was a broad consensus among all members of the forum to elevate the topic of “Improving Compliance with Non-Proliferation, Arms Limitation and Disarmament Agreements” to the top of the agenda. With 52 votes in favor, 7 votes against and 1 abstention, the council agreed to put the topic mentioned on top, followed by the outer space topic and the discussion about non-state actors and weapons of mass destruction.
Arms control and limitation measures stabilize and control existing threats. Non-proliferation reduces the spread of additional threats that could be fuelled by the ongoing weak enforcement of existing measures and the detraction of the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction. Disarmament is based on the idea or certitude that weapons are the cause of conflicts and not the result of violence. North Korea is an example to show that the possession of weapons of mass destruction is oftentimes a vital part of a government’s security policy. Japan can be presented as an example as well, just the other way around: As long as Japan is a de facto non-nuclear state, it is under the ‘security umbrella’ of the United States.
After we had set the agenda, we immediately started to discuss the different points in the forum and proceeded with the first formulations of the preamble and final clauses. These first drafts were mainly based on suggestions which had been submitted during caucus. Due to the fact that we had chosen a very broad topic for our discussion, we split into different working groups from the second day of session onwards. The issues discussed included measures to achieve a nuclear weapon free world, the implementation of incentive based compliance improvement and adding confidence building measures to the existing disarmament regimes. The discussion about measures towards a nuclear weapons free world were of special interest to the Kingdom of Morocco as this is a priority of its foreign policy. Other topics we discussed during the conference were the creation of nuclear weapon free zones as well as the establishment of a Nuclear Energy Trade Protocol and a Nuclear Energy Trade Registry.
During the third day of session, our work focused on three different working groups within the conference. In the end, eleven working papers had been submitted to the chair. Due to the high number of working papers we were asked to merge similar papers. This was the time for all of us to show our skills in diplomacy, debating and rhetoric. In the end we managed to draft five resolutions, with Morocco sponsoring two of them. Striving to adopt the papers on the floor by acclamation, we ended up in the discussion of twelve amendments. But before we entered into voting procedures, we listened to various speeches on the topic which underlined the importance of the draft resolutions in question.
Four out of five drafts were accepted by the body. Unfortunately, the resolution which Morocco had sponsored was not accepted by the forum. But our delegation was still proud of the fact that our Conference passed resolutions by acclamation that asked for the implementation of a Nuclear Energy Trade Registry and an International Enrichment Agency under the roof of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Three weeks after the conference, similar proposals were discussed in the ‘real’ international arena. Probably the issue will find its way into the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and maybe they will come to the same results and conclusions as we did during NMUN 2007…