General review of the legal activities of the United Nations
1. DISARMAMENT AND RELATED MATTERS1
(a) Nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation issues
The Conference on Disarmament, the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum, had been unable to commence substantive work since 1998. Despite the Conference’s inability in 2001 to establish a subsidiary body on nuclear disarmament, some progress was made on the issue, with both the Russian Federation and the United States of America, for the first time in 30 years, indicating a general willingness in the Conference on Disarmament, to establish an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament.
In December 2001, the United States announced its withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty,2 stating that the Treaty hindered the Government’s ability to develop ways to protect the country from future missile attacks from rogue States or terrorists. A formal notification was given to the Russian Federation pursuant to the Treaty, with the effective date of withdrawal being six months from the date of the announcement. At the same time, announcements were made by both the United States and the Russian Federation of their intentions to drastically reduce their nuclear arsenals.
A second Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty of 1996,3 which prohibits any nuclear-weapon-test explosion in any environment, was held in November 2001, at which the importance of the Treaty in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation was reaf-firmed and the need for continued multilateral efforts to achieve its entry into force was stressed.
The 1997 Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management,4 which applies to spent fuel and radioactive waste from civilian nuclear programmes and military or defence programmes when these materials have been permanently transferred to civilian facilities, as well as to material that has been declared by a Contracting Party to the Convention and to managed releases of radioactive materials into the environment from regulated nuclear facilities, entered into force on 18 June 2001.
Consideration by the General Assembly
At its fifty-sixth session, the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the First Committee, took action on 12 draft resolutions and two draft decisions on
topics related to these issues. On 29 November 2001, the Assembly adopted decision 56/413, entitled “United Nations Conference to identify ways of eliminating nuclear dangers in the context of nuclear disarmament”, which had been introduced by Mexico in the First Committee. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, explaining its negative vote, together with those of France, the United States of America and Germany against the draft resolution in committee, stated that the process established by the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons5 was the cornerstone of nuclear non-proliferation and the essential foundation of nuclear disarmament; therefore, in those delegations’ view, an international conference as a separate process would conflict with that approach to nuclear disarmament.
The General Assembly also adopted resolution 56/25 B entitled “Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear Weapons”, which had been introduced by India in the First Committee. During the deliberations, Pakistan had supported the draft, reaffirming its belief that the non-use or threat of use of nuclear weapons had its basis in the Charter of the United Nations. The United States had voted against the draft resolution, stating in explanation that the adoption of an international convention was not a practical approach to the ultimate goal of the total elimination of nuclear weapons, which could be achieved rather by a step-by-step process of bilateral, unilateral and multilateral measures.
Resolution 56/24 B, entitled “Missiles”, also adopted on 29 November, had been introduced by the Islamic Republic of Iran in the First Committee. Five States had abstained in the vote on the draft, with comments ranging from expressions of strong support for the draft international code of conduct developed by the Missile Technology Control Regime to references to the contributions of the United Nations panel of governmental experts on missiles, as well as to their own efforts in that regard. The United States questioned the draft’s overall thrust and political intent, wondering whether its purpose was to divert attention and resources away from ongoing missile non-proliferation, including the draft international code of conduct. The United States held that efforts to curb the spread of missiles and related technology were more productive when conducted on a regional basis with the active participation of concerned States, rather than the vague approach embodied in the draft. Belgium, speaking on behalf of the European Union and a large number of States, as well as Japan, the Republic of Korea and Australia voiced disappointment that the draft failed to address satisfactorily the key issue of missile proliferation and related technology.
The General Assembly also adopted resolution 56/24 L, entitled “Prohibition of the dumping of radioactive waste”, which had been introduced by the Sudan in the First Committee, on behalf of the Group of African States.
(b) Biological and chemical weapons
Biological Weapons Convention6
Despite increased concerns over bioterrorism after the 11 September 2001 attacks and the anthrax-related incidents that followed, multilateral efforts to strengthen the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention suffered setbacks. The Ad Hoc Group of States parties to the Biological Weapons Convention entered into its seventh year of negotiations on a verification protocol to the Convention; however, the United States rejected the composite texts proposed by the Chairman of the Group and of
further negotiations on the protocol. The Group was therefore unable to complete the negotiations on the draft protocol. Furthermore, the Fifth Review Conference of the States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention was held from 19 November to 7 December, but due to divergent views and positions among States parties with regard to certain key issues, particularly the work of the Ad Hoc Group, the Conference suspended the session and agreed to resume the session in 2002.
Chemical Weapons Convention7
In 2001, further progress was achieved in the implementation of the 1992 Chemical Weapons Convention on the destruction of chemical weapons, as well as the destruction or conversion of chemical weapons production facilities to peaceful purposes. The sixth session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention was held at The Hague in May, and preparations commenced for the first Review Conference, to be convened in 2003. As part of the international efforts to combat terrorism, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) established a working group to formulate specific measures to prevent terrorist groups from acquiring and using chemical weapons.
United Nations Monitoring, Verification and
Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC)8
The College of Commissioners held four meetings during 2001 to review the implementation of Security Council resolution 1284 (1999) and other relevant resolutions, as well as to provide political advice and guidance to the Executive Chairman, including guidance on significant policy decisions and on the quarterly reports of the Chairman submitted to the Security Council through the Secretary-General. In addition to the members of the College, representatives of IAEA and OPCW continued to attend the meetings as observers.
One of the main focuses of the work of the Commission remained the identification of “unresolved disarmament issues” in Iraq through the reinforced system of ongoing monitoring and verification called for by the Security Council. In 2001, the Commission completed its review of the criteria for the classification of inspection sites and facilities throughout Iraq and prepared common layouts and formats for the reporting of site inspections to allow greater consistency and a clear basis for analysis. Work was also completed on revision and updating of the lists of dual-use items and materials to which the export/import mechanism applied. The revised lists were forwarded to the Security Council on 1 June 2001.9
As concerns its non-inspection-related sources of information, UNMOVIC initiated a commercial satellite imagery contract and continued to analyse the imagery it was receiving through that arrangement, principally for infrastructure changes at sites in Iraq previously subject to monitoring. The Commission also received the results of an independent study it had commissioned on open-source information concerning Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction capabilities in the period following the withdrawal of the former Special Commission inspectors from the country.10
Much work was devoted to improving the UNMOVIC database and archive and making them more readily available sources of information.
Consideration by the General Assembly
During its fifty-sixth session, the General Assembly took action, pursuant to recommendations of the First Committee, on one draft resolution and one draft deci-
sion regarding these issues. Decision 56/414 on the Biological Weapons Convention had been introduced by Hungary in the Committee and was adopted by the Assembly on 29 November. During the deliberations on the draft, several States had expressed their disappointment that the Committee could only adopt a procedural decision instead of a substantive resolution that would have established a political basis for continuing the Ad Hoc...
Chapter III. General review of the legal activities of the United Nations and related intergovernmental organizations
A. General review of the legal activities of the United Nations 1. Disarmament and related matters 75 2. Other political and security questions 3. Environmental, economic, social, humanitarian and cultural questions 85 4. Law of the sea 5. International Court of Justice 6. International Law Commission 7. United Nations Commission on International Trade Law 8. Legal questions dealt with by ... (see full summary)
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