Political Responsibility in Disarmament Sphere

By Arthur Dunn

Representative of Asia Headed the Conference on Disarmament for the First Time

Since the moment of the United Nations Organization establishment disarmament has remained to be an important mean to assure international peace and security as well as “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind,”, as stated in the Organization’s Charter.

On the one hand, the wording of the UNO Charter regarding disarmament, especially within the nuclear sphere, may be observed as not powerful enough. On the other hand, we shouldn’t forget that first successful nuclear tests were held in June 1945, and a comprehensive draft of the paper had been composed a few months before.

At the same time this is a peculiar flaw of the Charter was recovered by the adoption of the Nuclear Weapon Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1970. This Treaty comprises a norm, according to which a Party to the Treaty “undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control”.

At the moment two of the three categories of mass destruction weapon – biological and chemical weapon – are prohibited. Their production, stockpiling and use are outlawed respectfully by the Biological Weapons Convention (came in power in 1975) and Chemical Weapons Convention (1997).

Last Sessions of the General Assembly demonstrate that more states call for complete elimination of nuclear armament. The UN Charter lays the overriding responsibility within disarmament sphere exactly on this body – the General Assembly. That is why international events have lately included a news about the appointment of the Chairman of the Kazakhstan Parliament Senate Qasım-Jomart Toqayev on the position of the General Director of the Department of the United Nations Organization in Geneva. The UNO Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underlined: the decision is determined by the significant contribution of Kazakhstan into enhancement of international security, non-proliferation regime, as well as the successes of the country within foreign policy. For the first time of the UNO history one of the most significant entities will be headed by the representative of Asia, following Russian diplomat in Geneva Office.

Due to his new appointment Toqayev will be a Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament working in Geneva. The Conference on Disarmament is the only Forum in the world established in 1979 and including 65 states, which holds multilateral negotiations on disarmament. The Conference discusses almost all problems of overwhelming control over armaments and disarmament problems.

Observers note that the new UN Vice Secretary-General is experienced not only in Parliamentary work. He used to be a Minister of Foreign Affairs and a Prime-Minister in his country, which allowed him to participate actively in international policy of Kazakhstan, the crown of which is still considered to be the Chairmanship of the country at the OSCE, which ended with a long-expected Summit of the Organization in Astana in December 2010. In the result, due to commonly noted desirable persistence of the Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev they managed to adopt the Declaration of Astana, which proved fundamental principles of the Declaration of Helsinki. Now within the context of promotion of objectives and standards of the Organization, laying within the territory from Vancouver to Vladivostok, the world community specifies two capitals – Helsinki and Astana.

A significant role in disarmament is given also to regional organizations, first of all to the leading Forum of Euro-Atlantic, and after Astana Summit already Eurasian region – the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

In the OSCE structure military dimension is the prerogative of the Forum for Security Co-operation. Its activity is based on a number of signed documents, including the Small Arms and Light Weapons Agreement and the Document on Stockpiles of Conventional Ammunition. The OSCE states can send official requests for aid provision, regarding stockpiles regulation and demilitarization of conventional ammunition.

All the OSCE member-states signed the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. 45% of provisioned 321 stations in the Treaty, which form an international monitoring system are located within the territories of the OSCE states.

Purposefully, in the Resolution on the OSCE role enhancement adopted in November 2010, European delegates in the very first clause of the document call to “rehabilitate the process of conventional ammunition limitation and disarmament within the OSCE lands”. The Resolution also expresses support to start negotiating process on further reduction of military forces and armament (Forum for Security Cooperation II). Thus, they also relate great expectations with the OSCE, as a powerful regional organization, in disarmament sphere.

By the way, in 2010 Kazakhstan became the first OSCE Chairman-in-Office of the former USSR republics. This year, the country is already pretty active in its role of the Chairman of another international forum – the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). And in summer 2011 Astana shall welcome a Summit of another important regional forum – the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Within the conditions of current world problems, related with new crises in North Africa, other regions of Asia, the given Forums should intensify immediately their role in international policy to stop armed conflicts, which follow the armament race. The list of such regional forums should include the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) – an international forum that unites countries of Asian continent, which objective is to enhance interrelations and cooperation between Asian states to assure stability and security in the region. CICA’s Headquarters is located in Almaty. Today CICA is observed as a serious element of collective security. And Kazakhstan as a peculiar Eurasian bridge of it.

It’s worth to remind that the idea of the Conference calling was first presented by the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev during the 47th Session of the UNO General Assembly in October 1992. During last 10 years CICA has managed to hold three summits. Since the beginning of the year this forum has been chaired by Turkey, giving the Chair in OIC to Kazakhstan.

By the appointment of a new UNO Vice Secretary-General Qasım-Jomart Toqayev they considered also his experience of work on the issues, laying in the circle of responsibilities of the UNO Conference, the functioning of which he will now coordinate and head. Judging by his biography, he also had practice in managing crisis situations in the world. The development of current situation around Libya proves that in modern world we can’t do without the UNO, which is commonly observed as the main international body.

The reality of military conflicts reminds also about the importance of conventional armament control. Thus, in comparison with conventional arms, creation of nuclear armaments is almost eliminated. The problems of the last ones are related with the dismantling of already existing units, assurance of nuclear technologies and materials security, and prevention of their capture by terrorists.

A significant mechanism, with the help of which the UNO plays an important role within conventional armament control is the Register of Conventional Arms, containing about 90% of all corresponding world deals. The Register makes arms traffic transparent.

The change of conflicts’ nature and greater openness of national boarders resulted in that state security is not able to be assured only with military means. It leads to the urgency of closer control over conventional arms.

It’s also worth to remind of the role of such UNO body as Disarmament Commission, which since 2007 has granted practical and organizational aid within the development of norms on disarmament sphere, participating in the work of the General Assembly, Conference for Disarmament and other bodies.

The Commission promotes the achievement of the goal of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation as well as the enhancement of disarmament mechanisms in relation to other types of mass destruction weapon, chemical and biological weapon. Conventional arms disarmament, especially land mines and small arms – which are the most widely used in modern conflicts – are the sphere Commission’s responsibility.

As for the Conference for Disarmament which is also funded by the UNO, it is the single forum in the world, founded in 1979 with 65 member-states, which holds multilateral negotiations on disarmament. The Conference discusses almost all problem of overwhelming control over armaments and disarmament problems.

At the moment experts stipulate the period of Conference for Disarmament crisis. It’s functioning and lack of activity was quite acutely criticized by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who underlined regress and inadmissibility of such situation. This was sounded even despite the fact that in spring 2009 due to the improvement of relations between Washington and Moscow, a negotiation program was adopted. However, disarmament dynamics in the result of the US-Russia relations “re-start” soon exhausted.

Thus, since the adoption of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1996, this international forum in practice hasn’t signed any commonly known acts. In February 2010 then the Head of the UN Office in Geneva Sergei Ordzhonikidze stated that the Conference for Disarmament was “a huge UN budget waste”, and that it was “useless” if it wouldn’t prove the ability to reach results.

Among others, the explanation is routed also in the mass of bureaucratic procedures. The rule of consensus and veto always complicate decision-making. Thus, the main causer of a slow-down is named Pakistan, which refuses to launch global talks on production ban of fissile materials, that could be used to make a bomb.

The kind of problems incited the need to hold a Global Summit on Disarmament and Non-proliferation in April 2010, where the President of Kazakhstan announced politically significant initiatives within disarmament sphere. Holding a speech during this Forum he clearly claimed that the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which undoubtedly played its positive role, already is not able to serve for the demands of modern epoch adequately. The document has become asymmetric. It specifies sanctions towards only non-nuclear states. But if nuclear powers call to ban the development of nuclear weapons, they themselves should become an example of reduction and refusal of nuclear arsenal.

However, this doesn’t happen. Many states, which ratification is urgent for the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to come in power, escape from this step. That is why the President Nazarbayev suggested signing the Declaration on General Nuclear Disarmament. This will demand from nuclear powers a very serious study. This initiative aims at future, it is full of prospects.

The UNO as a global organization with various bodies, expertise and resources is able to guarantee a holistic approach in disarmament and armament control. Only solution of deep causes of conflicts together with disarmament measures can result into a full-value resolution. That is why disarmament should be accompanied with economic aid, development of social and judicial system, democratization and supremacy of law promotion.

The first of this kind experiment was undertaken in Mali. The UNO bodies, responsible for armament issues, as well as the program of the UNO and UNESCO Development participated jointly within the accomplishment of the program on armament flow reduction.

The end of the Cold War opened for the UNO new options within disarmament sphere. Being a global organization the UNO is able to fulfill the functions of monitoring, analysis, training, professional expertise and aid for the states in the corresponding sphere. Using its moral power, the UNO in case of lack of own resources, has the option to involve donor community to accomplish various projects. Thus, the UNO was granted with significant political responsibility in disarmament sphere.