First Committee Speakers Regret Ongoing Impasse in ‘CPC’ Over Programme 3 on Disarmament Plans, During Consideration of Working Methods
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) took up the issue of revitalization of the General Assembly and programme planning today during a session devoted to its working methods, hearing from several delegations on the relevance of disarmament programmes.
Several representatives regretted that the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC) was unable to reach consensus on five of its 28 programmes, including programme 3 (document A/77/6(Sec.4)), devoted to disarmament and which therefore directly concerns the First Committee. Speakers recalled that consensus is the working method of the Council’s Committee, which normally approves programme plans and then submits them to the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).
Programme 3 includes the following subprogrammes: multilateral negotiations and deliberations on disarmament and arms limitation, weapons of mass destruction, conventional arms, information and outreach and regional disarmament.
The representative of Australia, also speaking on behalf of Canada and New Zealand, noted that the advisory body had agreed to more programmes this year than last year after its session was extended to five weeks. The United States’ delegate noted that discussions of these programme plans are very technical. France’s representative called for ensuring that this approach does not divert the attention of disarmament experts from the subjects that are at the heart of the First Committee’s work, which risked weakening the First Committee’s vital role.
The representative of Brazil recalled that the CPC has been unable to reach a consensus on programme 3 for four years. It is a duty that it does so, he added. The representative of Cuba said those responsible for programmes must have a clear vision of how to carry out their mandates and responsibilities, noting that it is the rules of the General Assembly that must govern the work.
While defending the powers of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) in adopting programme plans, the United Kingdom’s delegate considered it imperative that the CPC, as an advisory body, redouble its efforts to reach a consensus next year to unblock the programmes, in particular, those relating to the First Committee. However, Japan’s speaker noted that programmes that do not receive recommendations from the CPC must be examined in plenary or in main committees, and that each committee can choose whether or not to take up the programme plan.
Noting that programme 3 in its current state faithfully reflects the mandate given to it by Member States, the representatives of France, Brazil, the United States, Egypt and Australia, also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand, invited the First Committee Chair to request the Fifth Committee to recommend that the General Assembly approve the plan as proposed, without modification.
Other delegations raised additional aspects of working methods. Representatives, including Pakistan’s delegate, called for the imbalance of geographical representation to be rectified in the Disarmament Bureau — almost all of its members come from the same region — as well as in the groups of experts appointed by the Secretary-General.
The Russian Federation’s representative spotlighted the question of granting visas to experts from the various delegations, accusing the United States of not respecting its obligations as the host country and the 1947 Agreement regarding the Headquarters of the United Nations by failing to promptly and systematically issue the visas requested by the delegations so that their experts can travel to New York. He also raised the question of session formats, saying it is unacceptable to hold online or hybrid sessions. The First Committee session must be held exclusively in person and indoors, he stressed, adding that the participation of non-governmental organizations should follow the rules.
Following a one-hour private session devoted to hearing from a number of such organizations, Brazil’s delegate noted that the time allocated to them was very limited.
Also speaking was a representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer.
The Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Friday, 14 October to hold an interactive dialogue with Izumi Nakamitsu, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, as well as exchanges with independent experts and high-level officials.