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Agreement on work programme eludes disarmament conference

Agreement on work programme eludes disarmament conference

The outgoing President of the Conference on Disarmament said today that the prevailing international security environment was unfavourable for the work of the Geneva-based body, and reported that consensus on its work programme was still out of reach.

Speaking at the conclusion of his four-week term as President, Ambassador Hu Xiaodi of China noted that international attention in the disarmament arena is now focused on whether the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty would be preserved and strengthened, or whether countries would move beyond the constraints of that 30-year-old pact.

The answer to that question, he said, would have an extensive effect on the Conference which, as the sole multilateral disarmament negotiating forum, was bound to be affected by aspects of international strategic stability.

Reporting on consultations held during his presidency, Ambassador Hu said there was widespread concern among delegates about the inability of the Conference to move forward, adding that he had no breakthrough to report, as there was still no consensus on a work programme. The Conference has remained deadlocked because of disagreements over its work programme in successive recent years.

Established in 1979, the Conference on Disarmament works strictly on the basis of consensus on matters that touch the national security interests of States. The Conference has a limited membership of 66 and a unique relationship with the United Nations General Assembly, which takes its recommendations into account. The Conference, however, defines its own rules and develops its own agenda.