Day 10 at the NPT: draft reports circulated at half time

Posted by Rebecca Johnson

Draft reports from Main Committee I, MCII and MCIII with ‘placeholder’ text on some issues, especially from subsidiary bodies II and III which are continuing their debates in closed sessions, were distributed on Friday afternoon and are now posted in full on the Reaching Critical Will website for you all to see and read for yourselves,

These are initial drafts but very significant as the Chairs’ sense of the major issues and concerns, providing text on which all sides can — and should — engage.  We had been expecting that MC I and SB I would be issued as two separate papers at this stage, with SBI particularly focussing on a forward-looking action plan. At the last moment today — for procedural reasons (for the sake of consistency in style and format among the three Committee reports rather than overt political scheming, I am assured) SB1’s report has been jammed into MCI’s report, resulting in various duplications, repetitions and incoherences which the two Chairs want to iron out.

The point here, however, is that these reports reflect the first phase of engagement, and the real negotiations are now going to get started.  The Conference is likely to get tougher (and more interesting) now, as the key delegations push their positions.

Since any of you with particular interest can read and assess the drafts for yourselves, and in the knowledge that the minute we say we like (or dislike) something we send warning flags to certain delegations, we at Acronym plan to take a bit more time to digest and analyse, rather than parsing these drafts for you at this stage.  So have a great weekend, and ENJOY!

Friday morning plenary feedback from Committee Chairs

After days and days of general debate statements, repetitions of the main points in more statements to the Committees and, no doubt, even more repetition of positions in the Subsidiary Bodies (that civil societyparticipants are not  allowed to hear for ourselves), the Conference is going to get Interesting.

On Friday morning, the President of the NPT, Ambassador Libran Cabactulan, convened a short plenary to give the half-way assessment and enable the Chairs of the Committees to give brief oral reports in public.  He announced that papers with draft language from some if not all the committees would be circulated in the afternoon — and as the tacked on new opening for this blog attests, they were.

Here – rather smoothly by comparison with its recent predecessors, endeth the first, most formal phase of the Conference. Much of the real work of course has been taking place in closed meeting rooms and the Missions of the key delegations, including the Chairs of various Committees and Subsidiary Bodies (UN speak for what most of us would call closed working groups).   Here, the diplomats and their advisors have been poring through stacks of working papers, statements and other relevant resources, to identify and sort the proposals that would take the NPT regime forward, the proposals that have attracted significant support, and the proposals that are too far to the edges to be taken forward this time round (and in some cases ever). They have to weigh the politics of each proposal without explicitly acknowledging any politics. The first stage of this is now nearing completion, and we await the draft reports and ‘action plans’ with bated breath (or apprehension, depending on point of view)!

Ambassador Boniface Chidyausiku formally reported that Main Committee I (disarmament) had held 3 meetings, heard a lot of statements, and then held a more focussed debate “that was more useful”. He reported that Subsidiary Body 1 (forward looking practical disarmament and security assurances), chaired by Ambassador Alexander Marschik, had also held 3 meetings. The initial draft papers from both the Committee and Subsidiary Body had been submitted to the President and ought to be available Friday afternoon.

For Main Committee II (safeguards, NWFZ), Ambassador Volodyrmyr Yelchenko reported that 4 meetings had been held, with debates particularly focussing on safeguards and the additional protocol.  He had produced a draft report which was given to the President, and expressed the intention to begin deliberations on this draft report next week on the basis of a work programme that will be distributed later today. He also reported that Subsidiary Body 2 (chaired by Alison Kelly), which is dealing primarily with the Middle East,  held 2 closed meetings.  This, as predicted, is where some of the toughest negotiations are taking place, and there is as yet not even a first draft, though a ‘placeholder’ text from a previous year might be issued,

For Main Committee III (nuclear energy, safety etc) Ambassador Takeshi Nakane said that 4 meetings had been held, which heard 43 general statements and then got down to focussed work on four specific areas:

i) peaceful uses of nuclear energy in all aspects

ii) nuclear safety

iii) technical cooperation   and

iv) multinational fuel cycle approaches, including assurances of supply to those that give up the option to develop their own national facilities.

Amb. Nakane also reported that Subsidiary Body 3, chaired by Ambassador Jose Luis Cancela, had held its first meeting, dealing with the NPT’s Article IX, X and universality and would continue its deliberations next week on the basis of the later decision for it to address other issues relating to institutional reform.

Ambassador Cabactulan congratulated the Chairs, talked about the UN’s difficulty dealing with the huge mass of reports and working papers that have to be translated into and transmitted in all the UN languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish), but indicated that the drafts of at least some of the Committees would be available today, and that negotiations on the basis of these drafts would begin next week.  Yay!

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