Stay Out of Programme Planning, Reduce Number of Drafts, Consider Constraints of Smaller Delegations to Streamline First Committee’s Work, Speakers Say
The growing number and repetitive nature of draft resolutions in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) is stressing the capacity of smaller delegations to participate in negotiations on the texts, speakers cautioned today as the body took up revitalization of its work.
Uruguay’s delegate urged members to consider the reality of small and medium-sized developing countries without unlimited human resources to allow them to fully meet the growing UN agenda. Duplication of drafts should be avoided, given that many missions can devote only one delegate to cover several Committees.
Along those lines, El Salvador’s representative said there is no level playing field for all to participate equally. On the “proliferation of resolutions”, she said many texts have more similarities than differences, thereby “competing” with each other.
Switzerland’s speaker noted that the Committee is dealing with more than 70 resolutions and agreed with the notion of competing texts, which creates parallel processes and polarization. Costa Rica was among those who proposed that drafts with only technical updates be presented every two or three years, instead of annually, which would allow more time for in-depth discussions aimed at consensus.
Turning to programme planning, some delegations expressed regret that the Committee for Programme and Coordination reached consensus on only 18 of 28 programmes, leaving the rest without concrete conclusions or recommendations. Since 2017, they noted, the Committee for Programme and Coordination has failed to provide recommendations to the General Assembly on the disarmament agenda.
Several speakers referred to operative paragraph 11 of General Assembly resolution 77/254, which sets out that, whenever the Committee for Programme and Coordination cannot provide conclusions and recommendations on a given subprogramme or programme, the Assembly or the Main Committees responsible for those mandates will consider them.
Additional work stemming from this resolution overloads the already busy First Committee, warned Japan’s delegate. To avoid duplicating the Committee for Programme and Coordination’s work, he proposed that the disarmament programme be swiftly sent to the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) for approval. France’s speaker agreed, saying “stay out of programme planning”. This is for the Fifth Committee.
The United Kingdom’s representative said that the Committee should not undermine the Committee for Programme and Coordination by reinterpreting or re‑litigating its work, or re-opening mandates. He asked the Committee Chair to recommend to the Fifth Committee that the General Assembly approve the disarmament programme without modification.
On other matters, the Russian Federation’s representative said that the participation of non-State actors, including those with observer status and non-governmental organizations, should not undermine the intergovernmental nature of the First Committee. He requested that their attendance be politically neutral and geographically diverse. He also asked that the United States adhere to the 1947 Headquarters Agreement on visa issuance for the participating delegates.
Also contributing to today’s discussion were representatives of Australia (also speaking on behalf of Canada and New Zealand), Chile, Colombia, Cuba (also on behalf of Bolivia, Iran, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Syria), Mexico and the United States.
The First Committee will meet again at 3 p.m., Friday, 13 October, to begin its thematic debate.