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


(a) The 1995 Review and Extension Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

With the entry into force of the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons on 5 March 1970,2 a global non-proliferation regime was established, supported by the safeguards system of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which operates to prevent the diversion of nuclear material to military or other prohibited activities. Article VIII of the Treaty provides for the periodic holding of conferences of Statues parties to the Treaty to review its operation. Such conferences were held in 1975, 1980, 1985 and 1990.

During the 1995 Review and Extension Conference, three important decisions were taken without a vote. The decision to extend the duration of the Treaty indefinitely was reinforced by the other two decisions, concerning the strengthening of the review process itself.

The General Assembly, by its resolution 50/70Q of 12 December 1995,3 took note of the work and decisions of the 1995 Review and Extension Conference of Parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty

(b) Comprehensive test-ban treaty

As of 1995, three treaties on nuclear testing were in effect—one multilateral (Partial Test-ban Treaty of 1963)4 and two bilateral (treaties on limitation of yields of nuclear tests for military and peaceful purposes between the former USSR and the United States).5 None is comprehensive.

Although the Geneva multilateral negotiating body, the Conference on Disarmament, has long been involved with the issue of a test ban, it was only in 1993, owing to unprecedented improvement in the relationship between the major military Powers, that the Conference agreed to establish an ad hoc committee, which then allowed for negotiations to begin in 1994. This resulted in the first “rolling text” of a comprehensive test-ban treaty, which formed the basis for further elaboration and development. While not all the issues having to do with the scope of the future ban were resolved during 1995, three nuclear-weapon Powers agreed to a zero-yield threshold (comprehensive) test ban. The overall treaty verification regime and the architecture of each of the technologies that it would be composed of were elaborated and many organizational aspects related to implementation of the future treaty were worked out.

The General Assembly adopted three resolutions on the topic on 12 December 1995: (1) resolution 50/656 on the negotiations on a comprehensive nuclear-test-ban treaty; (2) resolution 50/70A7 on nuclear testing; and (3) resolution 50/648 on the amendment of the Partial Test-Ban Treaty.

(c) Security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States Security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States is an issue that was not fully resolved when the Non-Proliferation Treaty was concluded in 1968. During 1995, discussion of security assurances was renewed in various contexts, but especially in the framework of the preparations for the Review and Extension Conference and at the Conference itself.

With the adoption, on 11 April, of Security Council resolution 984 (1995) and the unilateral declaration of the nuclear-weapon States providing negative and positive guarantees, the question of security assurances received a new impetus.

Recognizing that these measures did not, however, fully meet the hopes of those States that sought legally binding commitments, the parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty agreed, in their decision on principles and objectives, to consider further steps that could take the from of a multilateral, legally binding instrument. To that end, the General Assembly adopted resolution 50/68 of 12 December 1995.9

(d) Nuclear-weapon-free zones

The concept of a nuclear-weapon-free zone was first developed in the late 1950s as a possible complementary measure to efforts to establish a global regime for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. When the Non-Proliferation Treaty was negotiated, it incorporated in article VII, on the initiative of non-aligned States, a provision pertaining to nuclear-weapon-free zones: “Nothing in this Treaty affects the right of any group of States to conclude regional treaties in order to assure the total absence of nuclear weapons in their respective territories”. To date, there are two such zones, in Latin America and the Caribbean,10 and in the South Pacific,11 and one to be established in Africa with the conclusion in 1995 of the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone Treaty, known as the Pelindaba Treaty.

The General Assembly, on 12 December 1995, adopted a number of resolutions on this topic: resolution 50/7812 relating to the Pelindaba Treaty; resolution 50/6713 relating to the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in South Asia; resolution 50/7714 concerning the consolidation of the regime established by the Treaty of Tlatelolco; and resolution 50/6613 concerning the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East.

(e) Other weapons of mass destruction

In spite of its strong resolve in the early 1990s to put an end to two categories of weapons of mass destruction, by the end of 1995, the international community had not yet reached agreement on how to strengthen the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacterio-logical (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention)16 so as to enable it to respond more fully to today’s instabilities. Moreover, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Pro-

duction, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention),17 confronted with parliamentary delays and lengthy technical discussions, had not yet entered into force.

On 12 December 1995, the General Assembly adopted resolutions 50/7918

on the Biological Weapons Convention, and 50/70E19 on the prohibition of the dumping of radioactive wastes.

(f) Conventional weapons

In October 1995, the Secretary-General published the third annual report on the Register of Conventional Arms, containing data and information on arms transfers provided by Governments for the calendar year 1994.20 The Register was established in 1992 as a confidence-building measure designed to improve security relations among States and thus aid in preventing excessive accumulations of arms.

In his “Supplement to an Agenda for Peace”, the Secretary-General coined the term “micro-disarmament” to describe disarmament in the context of weapons used in everyday conflicts.21 The practical role the United Nations was already playing in United Nations-sponsored peacekeeping operations and post-conflict peace-building, in controlling and reducing the massive production, transfer and stockpiling of light weapons, including landmines, around the world.

The Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (Inhuman Weapons Convention))22 was concluded in 1980 and entered into force in 1983 as an “umbrella” treaty to which additional specific agreements might be attached in the form of protocols. Three such protocols exist: Protocol I on non-detectable fragments; Protocol II on mines and booby-traps; and Protocol III on incendiary weapons. During the Review Conference of the Convention in 1995, negotiations were undertaken to strengthen Protocol II, and consensus was achieved on an additional protocol on blinding laser weapons (Protocol

IV), which was adopted on 13 October 1995.

A number of General Assembly resolutions in this area were adopted on 12

December 1995: resolution 50/70D23 on transparency in armaments; resolution 50/70B24 on small arms; resolution 50/7025 on measures to curb the illicit transfer and use of conventional arms; resolution 50/7026 on the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons; and resolution 50/70O27 on a moratorium on the export of anti-personnel land-mines.

(g) Other disarmament issues

With its resolution 50/60 of 12 December 1995,28 the General Assembly urged all States parties to arms limitation and disarmament agreements to implement and comply with the entirety of the spirit and all provisions of such agreements; and called upon all Member States to support efforts aimed at the resolution of compliance questions by means consistent with such agreements and international law, with a view to encouraging strict observance by all parties of the provisions of arms limitation and disarmament agreements and maintaining or restoring the integrity of such agreements. Also adopted on 12 December 1995 was General Assembly resolution 50/70M,29 on the observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementation of agreements on disarmament and arms control.


In its resolution 50/69 of 12 December 1995,30 the General Assembly, regretting the inability of the Conference on Disarmament to re-establish the Ad Hoc Committee on the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space in 1995, requested the Conference to do so in 1996 and to consider the question of preventing an arms race in outer space.


(a) Membership in the United Nations

As at the end of 1995, the number of Member States remained at 185.

(b) Legal aspects of the peaceful uses of outer space

The Legal Subcommittee of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space held its thirty-fourth session at the United Nations Office at Vienna from

27 March to 7 April 1995.31

Regarding the agenda item on the “Question of early review and possible revision of the principles relevant to the use of nuclear power sources in outer space”, the Subcommittee had decided not to re-establish its Working...

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