PAX is having a busy couple of weeks at the United Nations in New York. The UN General Assembly’s First Committee, which deals with all matters related to disarmament and global threats to peace, is holding its 73rd session. A number of PAX disarmament experts are there to engage with delegations on a variety subjects and UN resolutions that will be voted upon later this month.
The First Committee of the UN General Assembly meets for 5 weeks each year in October. Delegates from all around the world gather in New York to discuss the most important challenges to disarmament and international peace, such as nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, but also emerging technologies such as armed drones and autonomous weapons.
Each day, states meet in one of the large conference rooms in the UN headquarters. Depending on the agenda for that day, they will make statements about what the position of their country is, and they discuss what should be done to improve international security. NGO’s also participate in the meetings. At specific times, they can make statements during the plenary sessions to alert states to problems that need to be addressed and to propose solutions.
For example, PAX delivered a statement on depleted uranium weapons, calling on states to come up with rules governing the clean-up of this harmful material after it is used in a military conflict. PAX also delivered a statement on incendiary weapons, calling on states to improve international humanitarian law on this issue.
But just as important as these formal statements are the informal meetings with countries. NGO’s like PAX can speak with the country delegations outside of the formal meeting rooms, to discuss issues in more details, to ask questions and to exchange information. PAX specifically meets in this way with delegations to discuss the disarmament themes we work on. Last week for example, PAX representatives met with a number of delegations to call upon states to join the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
This work is being done by PAX and partner NGO’s on a wide range of issues. This work is always done in cooperation with other NGO’s, to make our work as effective as possible and to have as a big an impact as possible. For example on armed drones, PAX wants to see better international regulation on the use and export of these weapons. By coordinating the European Forum on Armed Drones (EFAD), PAX helped to promote a strong European-wide voice on the issue. This past week, PAX joined with EFAD and 52 other organizations from 20 countries worldwide to urge states to “work on an international policy response to the misuse of armed drones”. PAX will also launch a new report on human rights and drone strikes at a side-event at the UN.
Other disarmament issues PAX works on are conflict and environment, nuclear weapons, explosive weapons in populated areas, cluster munitions, landmines and fully autonomous weapons. See here for an overview of PAX’s work on humanitarian disarmament, including links to our partner networks and coalitions.