Chapter III. General review of the legal activities of the United Nations and related intergovernmental organizations

Chapter iii

A. general review of the legal activities of the United nations


(a) Nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation issues

Despite the submission of a proposal on the programme of work by five former Presidents of the Conference of Disarmament,2 no agreement was reached on the Conference’s overall programme of work. Thus, no subsidiary bodies were established to consider items on its agenda, including nuclear disarmament. The issue of nuclear disarmament was addressed by delegations at plenary meetings.

On 10 January 2003, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea announced its withdrawal from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), 1968,3 which was the first such withdrawal since the NPT’s entry into force in 1970. At the second Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2005 NPT Review Conference, held in Geneva from 28 April to 9 May 2003, the Committee devoted most of its time to a substantive structured review of the status and operation of the NPT under the agenda item entitled, “Preparatory work for the review of the operation and status of the Treaty in accordance with article VIII, paragraph 3, of the Treaty, in particular, consideration of principles, objectives and ways in order to promote the full implementation of the Treaty, as well as its universality, including specific matters of substance related to the implementation of the Treaty and Decisions 1 and 2, as well as the resolution on the Middle East adopted in 1995, and the outcome of the 2000 Review Conference, including developments affecting the operation and purpose of the Treaty.”

Efforts by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to implement a strengthened safeguards system continued during the year and by the end of 2003, the number of States yet to bring into force their comprehensive safeguards agreements, in accordance with their obligations under the NPT, decreased from 48 to 45. The number of States which had brought into force additional protocols to their safeguards agreements increased from 28 to

38. Furthermore, it was also reported by the Director General of IAEA to the 47th General Conference that a legal framework had been prepared to allow independent verification of nuclear material released from the military programmes of the Russian Federation and the United States and to ensure that sensitive information relating to the design of nuclear

For detailed information, see The United Nations Disarmament Yearbook, vol. 28:2003 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.04.IX.1).

CD/1693 and Rev.1, (23 January 2003).

United Nations Treaty Series, vol. 729, p. 161.

110 United Nations Juridical Yearbook 2003

weapons would not be divulged. The framework was to be used as a basis for the negotiation of agreements between the IAEA and each of the two States.

The third Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, 1996, was convened in Vienna from 3 to 5 September 2003, during which it adopted a Final Declaration and Measures to Promote the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.4 The Final Declaration stressed the importance of a universal and effectively verifiable Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty as a major instrument in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation; stated that ratifying States would consider appointing a Special Representative to assist the coordinating State in the performance of its function to promote its entry into force; and recommended that States consider establishing a trust fund, financed through voluntary contributions, to support an outreach programme for promoting the Treaty.

The first Review meeting of the Contracting parties to the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, 1997,5

was held in November 2003, in Vienna. An issue of general concern was the comparatively small number of Contracting parties which numbered 33 at the end of 2003.6

Regarding the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, 1979,7 the open-ended group of legal and technical experts met to prepare a draft amendment to the Convention and submitted its final report to the Director General of IAEA. The report was circulated to all States parties for consideration as to whether to initiate the procedure for the convening of an amendment conference in accordance with article 20 of the Convention. At the 47th General Conference of the IAEA, a group of States parties announced that they would submit a proposed amendment to the depositary of the Convention for circulation and request all States to support the holding of a diplomatic conference to consider it. By the end of 2003, no such proposal had been received by the depositary.

Also in 2003, the 47th General Conference of the IAEA endorsed the Board of Governor’s approval of the strengthened revised text of the Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources,8 while recognizing that it was not a legally binding instrument. Subsequently, further work was carried out on developing practical guidelines for its compliance, including specific guidelines on the import and export of radioactive sources.

At the bilateral level, the Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions (SORT) between the Russian Federation and the United States entered into force on 1 June 2003.9 In accordance with the provisions of the Treaty, each party undertook to reduce and limit strategic nuclear warheads by 31 December 2012 to between 1700 and 2200. The Treaty would remain in force until December 2012 and may be extended or superseded by subsequent agreement.

Consideration by the General Assembly

On 8 December 2003 the General Assembly adopted the following resolutions in the area of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation: resolution 58/71, adopted by recorded


United Nations Treaty Series, vol. 2153, p. 303.

For detailed information, see IAEA JC/RM.1/06/Final version.

United Nations Treaty Series, vol. 1456, p. 101.

The IAEA published the Code of Conduct in 2001 under the symbol IAEA/CODEOC/2001. For detailed information, see GOV/2000/34-GC(44/7) and GOV/2003/49-GC(47)/9.

For the text of the Treaty, see


vote of 173 in favor to 1 with 4 abstentions, entitled “Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty”, in which the General Assembly welcomed the Final Declaration of the third Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, held at Vienna from 3 to 5 September 2003, and stressed the importance and urgency of signature and ratification to achieve the earliest entry into force of the Treaty; resolution 58/68, adopted by recorded vote of 162 in favor to 4 with 10 abstentions, entitled “The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East”, in which the General Assembly reaffirmed the importance of Israel’s accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and placement of all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards; resolution 58/64, entitled “Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear Weapons”; resolution 58/59, adopted by recorded vote of 164 in favor to 2 with 14 abstentions, entitled “A path to the total elimination of nuclear weapons”, in which the General Assembly established an ad hoc committee in the Conference on Disarmament as early as possible during its 2004 session to negotiate a non-discriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear devices; the General Assembly also included the principle of irreversibility to be applied to nuclear disarmament, nuclear and other related arms controls and reduction measures; resolution 58/57, entitled “The Conference on Disarmament decision (CD/1547) of 11 August 1998 to establish, under item 1 of its agenda entitled ‘Cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament’, an ad hoc committee to negotiate, on the basis of the report of the Special Coordinator (CD/1299) and the mandate contained therein, a non-discriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices”; resolution 58/56, adopted by recorded vote of 112 in favor to 45 with 20 abstentions, entitled “Nuclear disarmament”, in which the General Assembly was mindful of paragraph 74 and other relevant recommendations in the Final Document of the Thirteenth Conference of Heads of States or Government of Non-Aligned Countries, held at Kuala Lumpur from 20 to 25 February 2003,10 called upon the Conference of Disarmament to establish, as soon as possible and as the highest priority, an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament and to commence negotiations on a phased programme for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons with a specified framework of time; resolution 58/51, entitled “Towards a nuclear-weapon-free world: a new agenda”; resolution 58/50, entitled “Reduction of non-strategic nuclear weapons”; resolution 58/49, entitled “Nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere and adjacent areas”; resolution 58/47, entitled “Reducing nuclear danger”; resolution 58/46, entitled “Follow-up to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons”; resolution 58/43, entitled “Promotion of multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation”; resolution 58/40, entitled “Prohibition of the dumping of radioactive waste”; and resolution 58/35, adopted by a recorded vote of 119 in favor to none with 58 abstentions, entitled “Conclusion of effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons”, in which the General...

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