Impasse at UN disarmament talks reflects overall stagnation in arms control - UN official

Impasse at UN disarmament talks reflects overall stagnation in arms control - UN official

The current stalemate in the main multilateral forum for disarmament was yet another manifestation of the prolonged stagnation in arms control, a senior UN official said today.

Sergei Ordzhonikidze, Director-General of the UN Office at Geneva and the Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament, told a press conference that while the forum had begun its 2002 session with new hopes generated by the reaffirmation of multilateralism as the core principle of negotiations, it was unable to overcome the long-lasting impasse over its programme of work.

Despite this lack of progress, however, Mr. Ordzhonikidze voiced the hope that the Conference would be able to overcome its present stalemate and make use of its great potential to the fullest extent possible. "Frankly speaking, I hope we will be able to overcome this impasse," he said. "I am optimistic about this."

During its third and last session of the year, the Geneva-based forum discussed a proposal by five former Conference Presidents that attempts to bridge the gaps between Member States on the main stumbling blocks - the prevention of an arms race in outer space and nuclear disarmament. The proposal had enjoyed broad support and would be further explored during preparations for next year's session, Mr. Ordzhonikidze said.

Although the Conference was frozen in its work, it was still regarded by the international community as the indispensable forum for arms control and disarmament negotiations, he stressed, noting that top political and technical experts were representing the Member States. He added that enormous intellectual and political potential at the Conference should be preserved and put into good use in the interest of international peace and security.