Taking Forward Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations

Overview

The General Assembly of the United Nations established by resolution A/RES/67/56 an Open-ended Working Group to develop proposals to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations for the achievement and maintenance of a world without nuclear weapons. The group met in Geneva in 2013 between March and August with the active contribution of international organizations and the civil society, as follows:

1. The organizational meeting of the open-ended working group took place on 14 March 2013 in the Palais des nations, United Nations Office at Geneva.

The following materials were circulated for consideration by the organizational meeting of the Group:

The group elected by acclamation Ambassador Manuel Dengo of Costa Rica as Chairperson of the Open-ended working group and agreed on the applicable rules of procedure and the modalities for the participation of civil society in the proceedings of the group.

2. The first set of substantive meetings of the open-ended working group were during the weeks of 14 and 20 May 2013.

Based on his informal consultations, the Chairperson circulated a letter, dated 23 April 2013, suggesting ideas and topics to be addressed by the Open-ended working group.

To see the letter, please click here.

To see the timetable of the meetings of the group in May, please click here.

Taking Forward Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations

Overview

The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted on 7 December 2015 resolution A/RES/70/33

Pursuant to the above resolution, the General Assembly decided to convene an Open-ended Working Group to:

(i) substantively address concrete effective legal measures, legal provisions and norms that would need to be concluded to attain and maintain a world without nuclear weapons; and

(ii) also substantively address recommendations on other measures that could contribute to taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations, including but not limited to

  • transparency measures related to the risks associated with existing nuclear weapons;
  • measures to reduce and eliminate the risk of accidental, mistaken, unauthorized or intentional nuclear weapon detonations; and
  • additional measures to increase awareness and understanding of the complexity of and interrelationship between the wide range of humanitarian consequences that would result from any nuclear detonation.

On 19 August 2016, the Open-ended working group adopted its report by a non-recorded vote with 68 in favour, 22 against and 13 abstentions. The report of the Open-ended Working Group taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations was presented its report to the United Nations General Assembly (A/71/371), as follows:

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Meetings of the Open-ended group

Organizational meeting
An organizational meetingof the Open-ended Working Group was convened by the Secretary-General in Geneva, on 28 January 2016 as follows:

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The organizational meeting welcomed the nomination of Ambassador Thani Thongphakdi of Thailand as chair of the Open-ended working group taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations. The meeting expressed support for the intention of the chair-designate to guide the work of the group in an open, transparent, comprehensive and inclusive manner. There was also general agreement on the provisional agenda submitted for consideration by the meeting.

Formal plenary meetings
(February)
At its firstformal meeting on 22 February 2016, the open-ended working group elected by acclamation Ambassador Thani Thongphakdi of Thailand as Chairperson of the group, adopted the agenda, as contained in A/AC.286/1 and agreed on the proposed organization of work.

The work of the group in February was structured around two panels, as follows:

Panel I on substantively addressing concrete effective legal measures, legal provisions and norms that will need to be concluded to attain and maintain a world without nuclear weapons.

Panel II on substantively addressing recommendations on other measures that could contribute to taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations:

(i) Transparency measures related to the risks associated with existing nuclear weapons;
(ii) Measures to reduce and eliminate the risk of accidental, mistaken, unauthorized or intentional nuclear weapon detonations;
(iii) Additional measures to increase awareness and understanding of the complexity of and interrelationship between the wide range of humanitarian consequences that would result from any nuclear detonation; and
(iv) Other measures

By a letter dated 4 March, the Chair of the group advised about his intention to prepare a synthesis paper in advance of the next meeting of the group, which will encapsulate the views expressed by delegations in February as well as in papers submitted up until 7 April 2016.
Informal meetings
At an informal meeting on 21 April 2016 an advance copy of the Chair's synthesis paper was circulated. A similar event will be held in New York on the morning of Monday 25 April 2016 for the benefit of those member States who do not have a Permanent Mission in Geneva.

Formal plenary meetings
(May)
The deliberations of the Working Group were structured around six panels, as follows:

Panel I: on measures to reduce and eliminate the risk of accidental, mistaken, unauthorized or intentional nuclear weapon detonations;

Panel II: on transparency measures related to the risks associated with existing nuclear weapons;

Panel III: on additional measures to increase awareness and understanding of the complexity of and interrelationship between the wide range of humanitarian consequences that would result from any nuclear detonation;

Panel IV: on essential elements that would comprise effective legal measures, legal provisions and norms that will need to be concluded to attain and maintain a world without nuclear weapons;

Panel V: on possible pathways to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations;

Panel VI: on other measures, including reviewing the role of nuclear weapons in the security and other contexts of the twenty-first century;

Formal plenary meetings
(August)
The formal plenary meetings on 5, 16, 17 and 19 August were focussed on the consideration and adoption of the report of the group to the 71st session of the General Assembly. The group considered, in particular, the advanced version of the report (zero draft), dated 28 July 2016; as well as a revised draft report, dated 15 August 2016 and a second revision of the draft report.

Civil society participation
Pursuant to paragraph 5 of resolution 70/33, the group was to convene in Geneva “with the participation and contribution of international organizations and civil society representatives, in accordance with established practice…”.

As per the established practice, all relevant NGOs which are granted access to the UN premises (organizations with consultative status with ECOSOC or accredited to DPI) might register and attend the meetings of the group.

Other interested organizations, relevant and competent to the scope of this Group, might register and participate subject to the agreement of the Member States (on a no-objection basis).