Revitalizing the Geneva Conference on Disarmament
Enlarge image United Nations in Geneva (© picture alliance / Arco Images G) Germany is assuming the Presidency of the United Nations Geneva Conference on Disarmament. Germany will use the four weeks of its Presidency (August 20 to September 14) to breathe new life into the work of the Geneva Conference on Disarmament and in particular to sound out possibilities for rapidly starting negotiations on a treaty banning the production and transfer of fissile material (FMCT). Under the German Presidency, the Conference will also prepare its Annual Report for submission to the United Nations General Assembly.
The Geneva Conference on Disarmament (CD) was established in 1979 as the United Nations’ central and permanent forum for disarmament. It is the world’s single permanent, multilateral negotiating forum for disarmament, arms control and non proliferation. The Conference has prepared important treaties such as the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. The Conference, which meets in Geneva’s Palais des Nations, currently counts 65 members, including all nuclear weapon states.
The CD meets in an annual session for 24 weeks, divided into three parts. After ten years, it is again Germany’s turn to assume the Presidency. The German Presidency will conclude the meetings in 2012.
Stagnation in recent years
In recent years, the Geneva Conference on Disarmament has not started any new treaty negotiations. One reason for this is that the Conference’s decisions are not taken by majority, but by consensus. Due to individual member states’ veto power, the Conference’s efforts have been hampered since 1996. No major progress has so far been achieved on the four core issues: FMCT, prevention of an arms race in outer space, nuclear disarmament and negative security assurances for non nuclear weapon states.
Germany’s commitment to progress on disarmament and arms control
Enlarge image Foreign Minister Westerwelle (© picture alliance / dpa) The German Government is energetically pressing for disarmament and arms control. Together with its partners it has repeatedly developed initiatives to overcome the dead end in Geneva. Most recently, Germany and the Netherlands jointly organized a series of events dealing with the technical preparations for an FMCT.
Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has repeatedly pointed out the necessity of nuclear disarmament and advocated negotiations on a ban on the production of fissile material. In this respect, the Geneva negotiations play a key role.
The Group of Friends of Disarmament and Non Proliferation, whose ten members include Germany, has time and again called for a revitalizing of the Geneva Conference on Disarmament and for the start of negotiations on a ban on the production of fissile material. However, to date these efforts have failed because of the obstructionist stance of some Conference members.