Reaching Critical WIll E-News Advisory October 2007
Dear Reaching Critical Will friends and advisors,
The UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security began on Monday, 8 October. After the first few days of General Debate, most delegations appear optimistic about the possibilities for progress before them, and are eager for the momentum created in the Conference on Disarmament this year to carry on throughout the First Committee. Unfortunately, the usual signs of resistance from certain delegations are already clear; however, as the representative from Honduras said, peace is a "constant aspiration" that should be a "permanent reality", and the First Committee is another chance to take a few small steps in this direction.
Ray Acheson, Project Associate
1) First Committee begins
The First Committee is the UN committee of the General Assembly that deals with issues of disarmament and international security. All UN member states are welcome to attend, debate the issues, and draft, negotiate, and vote on resolutions during this 4-5 week session every October. This year, the session will run from Monday, 8 October to Friday, 2 November. Please see the First Committee timetable and schedule for thematic debate for more information, and see RCW's Calendar of Events for NGO and UN side events that will be going on during the session.
Following the failure in the Conference on Disarmament to agree to a program of work yet again, there is hope that the First Committee will use this session to urge progress on the impasse. The First Committee has the procedural advantage of voting, giving it options unavailable to the deadlocked Conference on Disarmament (CD), which operates by consensus. While the resolutions adopted in the First Committee and General Assembly are not legally-binding, they can be normative—that is, they can indicate the establishment of customs, standards, and guidelines for appropriate behavior. In the past, disarmament and arms control treaties have also been put forward to the First Committee. Resolutions adopted by consensus also indicate substantive areas of agreement that are ripe for negotiation and can enable the creation of new treaties and the emergence of international legal norms. Furthermore, they demonstrate global governmental opinion, showing which governments support, and which choose to remain outside of or even impede, the development of international cooperative security. (For more information, please see RCW's General Assembly fact sheet: http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/resources/factsheets/ga.pdf)
Reaching Critical Will monitors the First Committee and catalogs all statements, non-papers, and resolutions. We have already started posting the statements from the General Debate. RCW also coordinates NGO reporting on the First Committee, and publishes issue-based summaries in the weekly First Committee Monitor. The first edition will be published Monday, 15 October. The HTML version is chock-full of hyper-links to more information, treaty texts, and organizations, and the PDF version prints into an accessible, attractive newsletter. We encourage you to use this easy resource to see what your government is saying and doing on disarmament in the international arena. There is no other source following these issues as closely. To receive this weekly newsletter by email, send an email to ray[at]reachingcriticalwill.org with "subscribe First Committee Monitor" in the subject line - and please indicate whether you prefer the HTML or PDF version, or both.
Advertising space: You can use the First Committee Monitor to publicize an important announcement, event, or project hosted by your organization. Monitors are hand delivered to all of the delegates at the First Committee every Monday, distributed through a free email subscription list, and are archived on our website. By placing an ad in the Monitor, you will be able to get your message across to hundreds of well-informed members of the disarmament community. Please contact the Project Associate for advertising rates and requirements.
2) Keep Space for Peace Week
WILPF is once again co-sponsoring Keep Space for Peace Week (October 4-13) with Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space. The week will be full of events and protests, listed on the Global Network website. The weaponization of space will lead to an increase in geopolitical tensions, a decrease of transparency and international security, and the proliferation of space debris, which, after 50 years of space activity, already poses a considerable hazard to spacecraft. For more information, please see RCW's backgrounders on the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space and the Aerospace Industry, Global Network's video resources, and the WILPF Keep Space for Peace statement.
3) Depleted Uranium conference closes
On 2-3 October 2007, the Fourth International Conference on Depleted Uranium ( DU) Weapons was held in New York City. This conference was hosted by the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW), and covered a range of topics from scientific studies on the effects of DU to legal perspectives on banning DU weapons and armour. RCW drafted a report on the conference, which is available online at http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/resources/factsheets/du.html#report.
For more information on DU, please see Reaching Critical Will's backgrounder, available online at http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/resources/factsheets/ du.html, and the recent report on DU Weapons published by WILPF Norway, available at http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/resources/factsheets/ du.html#wilpf.
4) UN Secretary-General Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters releases report
The report recommends the Secretary-General raise awareness on disarmament and non-proliferation; suggests the establishment of a high-level panel on the issue of outer space; discusses newly emerging weapon technologies, regional approaches to disarmament, and more. The report also references the NGO publications Securing Our Survival and Nuclear Disorder or Cooperative Security?.