The continued fraying of the disarmament and non-proliferation regime is worrying. It is both a cause and consequence of the current geopolitical tensions and conflict. Enduring paralysis in the multilateral disarmament machinery cannot continue if we are to build a safer and more secure world.
The year saw mixed levels of progress across the various components of the multilateral disarmament machinery. The United Nations Disarmament Commission resumed substantive work and submitted its first substantive report to the General Assembly since 2018. In the seventy-seventh session of the General Assembly's First Committee, States demonstrated their engagement on disarmament-related issues through record-high numbers of interventions, resolutions and decisions. The Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters convened for two sessions in 2022, tackling a new two-year programme of work on the pressing matter of global military spending. Meanwhile, the Conference on Disarmament generated further frustration and discontent as it continued to be deadlocked. It could not even agree to its traditional annual report, instead adopting a one-page report containing only meeting dates for 2023. Furthermore, the General Assembly resolution entitled “Report of the Conference on Disarmament” was adopted by a vote for the first time.
Eased constraints from the COVID-19 pandemic allowed for a resumption of normal, in-person working methods across the disarmament machinery. The First Committee of the General Assembly returned fully to its pre-COVID-19 modes of work, convening for 32 in-person meetings. Informal consultations on draft resolutions and decisions also returned to an in-person format, a development widely welcomed by delegations. Similarly, the Disarmament Commission held its three weeks of substantive deliberations in person, with both working groups holding 10 meetings each. The Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters incorporated a flexible approach in carrying out its substantive meetings for 2022. Although lingering COVID-19 concerns caused the Board’s first meeting in February to be held in an adjusted, virtual format, its second meeting in June took place in person at United Nations Headquarters in New York. The Conference on Disarmament resumed in-person meetings at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, but it also took advantage of virtual conferencing technologies to enable the participation of experts and senior dignitaries during its high-level segment.
The Conference on Disarmament saw a promising start to its 2022 session with the establishment of subsidiary bodies on its core agenda items. However, discussions within the subsidiary bodies and the negotiation of their reports were negatively impacted by flaring geopolitical tensions, particularly the situation in Ukraine, resulting in an inability to make any substantive progress. In his statement to the seventy-seventh session of the First Committee in October, the President of the Conference, Emilio Rafael Izquierdo Miño (Ecuador), regretted that the body’s final report did not reflect its work throughout the year. Moreover, he suggested that States critically reflect on the Conference’s work and future. Recalling that almost all delegations had repeated their worry and frustration about the body’s paralysis over more than two decades, he called on States to take urgent action.
The 2022 session of the Disarmament Commission was able to submit a substantive report (A/77/42) to the seventy-seventh session of the General Assembly following a three-year hiatus. States universally welcomed the resumption of the Commission’s work, underscoring its critical importance as the main deliberative component of the disarmament machinery. The Commission decided that 2022 would be the second year of its three-year cycle, picking up where it left off in 2018 and resuming consideration in two working groups on the substantive agenda items previously agreed: nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation; and transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities. Despite acrimonious exchanges over the conflict in Ukraine during the general debate, both Working Groups were able to hold in-depth discussions. Several delegations underscored that the substantive discussions in the Commission would facilitate input for the tenth Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Open-ended Working Group on Reducing Space Threats through Norms, Rules and Principles of Responsible Behaviours. States also expressed hope that the 2022 discussions would help forge a pathway to a successful outcome at the 2023 session, which would mark an end to the three-year cycle.
Deep divisions and combative exchanges punctuated the seventy-seventh session of the First Committee as it considered a record-setting 75 draft resolutions and decisions, adopting 74 and rejecting one. The war in Ukraine permeated all aspects of the Committee’s work, from confrontational exchanges to divisive votes. The Russian Federation used the right of reply to defend its actions, and Western States, including the European Union and the United States, criticized the Russian Federation for directly contributing to the erosion of the disarmament and non-proliferation regime and raising nuclear threats. Despite the harsh tenor of the exchanges, engagement in the Committee was extremely high; the general debate saw statements by 148 delegations, while the thematic discussions included 365 interventions. While participation by women delegates in the Committee continued to increase, it remained well below parity, with only 28 per cent of interventions made by women (see also figure 6.2 in chap. 6).
At the request of the Secretary-General, the Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters began a two-year programme of work on the topic of global military spending. The Board considered the development of proposals to facilitate new and transformative thinking to reduce arms expenditures in the immediate, medium and long term. At its sessions in February and June, the Board discussed topics that included the historic role of the United Nations in reducing military spending and promoting transparency; the political, economic and social drivers that had pushed military spending upwards in the last two decades; and the implications at global, regional and national levels, including socioeconomic consequences (A/76/183). The Board will present recommendations to the Secretary-General following its eightieth session in June 2023.
On 29 September, the Committee convened for an organizational meeting, approving its programme of work (A/C.1/77/CRP.1 and A/C.1/77/CRP.2) and electing Mohan Pieris (Sri Lanka) as its Chair. In addition to the Chair, the Bureau comprised Rapporteur Nazim Khaldi (Algeria) and Vice-Chairs Daniel Andreas Roethlin (Austria), Juan Marcelo Zambrana Torrelio (the Plurinational State of Bolivia) and Szilvia Balázs (Hungary).
The First Committee returned to pre-COVID-19 working methods for its seventy-seventh session, convening for a total of 32 in-person meetings. Of those meetings, one concerned the working methods of the Committee and programme planning. The First and Fourth Committees also convened, on 27 October, a joint half-day panel discussion to address possible challenges to space security and sustainability in accordance with General Assembly resolution 76/55 of 6 December 2021.
The Committee structured its discussions in line with previous sessions, dividing its work into three stages: general debate, thematic discussions on seven clusters (nuclear weapons, other weapons of mass destruction, outer space (disarmament aspects), conventional weapons, regional disarmament and security, other disarmament issues and international security, and disarmament machinery), and action on all draft resolutions and decisions. Eight meetings were dedicated to the general debate, followed by 13 meetings for thematic discussion and seven meetings to take action on all draft resolutions and decisions.
The Committee was compelled to add four more meetings to its schedule than originally intended so as to accommodate a particularly high level of engagement by States. The general debate included statements by 148 delegations, while the thematic discussions had 365 interventions. Delegations exercised the right of reply more than 130 times over the five weeks of work. Participation by women delegates continued to increase, with 28 per cent of interventions to the Committee made by women (see also figure 6.2 in chap. 6).
The Committee's 2022 substantive session was marked by deep divisions, inflammatory rhetoric and a proliferation of competing proposals. The conflict in Ukraine featured prominently in State interventions and right-of-reply exchanges. The deterioration of relations between China and the United States as well as the deepening division between the Russian Federation and Western States were also notable features of the debate. Throughout the session, many States expressed concern over the deteriorating international security environment, in particular the heightened threat of the use of nuclear weapons, increasing military expenditure and an overall lack of trust and transparency.
In her opening remarks to the Committee, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs regretted the prolifiration of conflicts with direct civilian impacts, as well as nuclear sabre-rattling and threats to nuclear safety, including in the context of the conflict in Ukraine. Addressing the Committee on 4 October, the President of the seventy-seventh session of the General Assembly, Csaba Kőrösi (Hungary), aired similar concerns over the deteriorating international security environment, underscoring the critical significance of the First Committee’s work. He called upon the Committee to lead the way in solving the most pressing security challenges facing the international community.
Overall, the Committee considered 75 draft resolutions and decisions, up from 61 in the previous year, adopting 74 and rejecting one. Among the drafts adopted, only 28 moved through the Committee without a recorded vote (38 per cent, down from 39 per cent in 2021); one resolution alone (77/76) drew 85 separate requests for votes on specific paragraphs, with 17 votes taken. In total, the Committee voted 128 times, including on two amendments. A new resolution establishing 5 March as the “International Day for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Awareness” (77/51), tabled by Kyrgyzstan, was adopted without a vote.
In line with past practice, throughout the thematic debate, the Committee heard briefings from Chairs of ongoing and recently concluded disarmament bodies and expert groups. The Committee was also briefed by the Chief of the Regional Disarmament, Information and Outreach Branch of the Office for Disarmament Affairs, who provided an overview of the previous year’s activities of the United Nations Regional Centres for Peace and Disarmament in Africa, in Asia and the Pacific, and in Latin America and the Caribbean.
On 14 October, at the Committee’s eleventh meeting, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs engaged in her traditional exchange alongside other high-level officials in the field of disarmament and arms control nominated by the General Assembly regional groups. In addition to addressing the topic of “Follow-up on resolutions and decisions adopted at the previous session of the Committee and presentation of reports of the Secretary-General”, the High Representative spoke on the cross-cutting topic of gender and enhancing the role of women in relevant discussions and policymaking. In that connection, she referred to the Secretary-General’s biennial report to the General Assembly entitled “Women, disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control” (A/77/122).
The only official nominated for the high-level exchange was the Secretary-General of the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL) by the Latin American and Caribbean States. In pre-recorded remarks (Inf.36/2022), the Secretary-General of OPANAL underscored that States remained concerned over the severe threats posed by the existence of nuclear weapons and their modernization. He announced that OPANAL would present a resolution to the First Committee at its next session to request a comprehensive study of nuclear-weapon-free zones in all aspects.
On 27 October, the Committee held its traditional panel discussion on the disarmament machinery, including the President of the Conference on Disarmament, Emilio Rafael Izquierdo Miño (Ecuador); Chair of the United Nations Disarmament Commission, Xolisa Mabhongo (South Africa); Chair of the Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters, Elissa Golberg (Canada); and the Director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, Robin Geiss.
On 7 December, the General Assembly took action on 71 out of 74 draft proposals approved by the First Committee. The Assembly was not yet in a position to take action on three texts (L.51, L.70 and L.71/Rev.1) owing to associated programme budget implications that had to be reviewed by the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary Questions).
In presenting the First Committee’s reports to the General Assembly (A/77/376–396) on 7 December, the Rapporteur noted that the Committee had fully returned to its pre-pandemic arrangements and had seen the highest-ever number of delegations take the floor. The voting patterns in the General Assembly remained largely the same as in the First Committee; one notable exception was “Steps to building a common road map towards a world without nuclear weapons” (L.61), a Japan-sponsored resolution, which saw significant increases in “yes” votes on all paragraphs — in five cases by 10 or more votes — as well as on the resolution as a whole. “Promoting international cooperation on peaceful uses in the context of international security” (L.56), a China-led resolution, also saw modest increases in the number of “yes” votes on its constituent paragraphs and on the resolution as a whole.
On 30 December, the General Assembly adopted the three outstanding proposals approved by the First Committee. Two of the proposals were approved by vote, “Further practical measures for the prevention of an arms race in outer space” (77/250) and “Problems arising from the accumulation of conventional ammunition stockpiles in surplus” (decision 77/547), and one by consensus, “Transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities” (77/251).
A debate on working methods and programme planning was added for the seventy-seventh session following the delegation of Brazil raising the matter the previous year. Thus, in accordance with its adopted programme of work and timetable, and in line with General Assembly resolutions 75/325 and 76/236, the First Committee, at its tenth meeting on 13 October, held a debate on its working methods and programme planning.
The Chair of the Committee opened the meeting, inviting interventions from States on the topics at hand. The Committee heard statements from nine States, one of which spoke on behalf of a group of three States, and one regional organization. At the meeting’s outset, the Chair stated his intention to prepare a summary of the discussion under his own responsibility for onward transmittal to the Chair of the Fifth Committee for further consideration. A factual summary of the debate was subsequently submitted to the Chair of the Fifth Committee on 28 October (A/C.5/77/12).
Delegations expressed appreciation to the Chair of the First Committee for convening the meeting on working methods and programme planning. Several delegations noted, with disappointment, that the Committee for Programme and Coordination was unable to reach a consensus on conclusions and recommendations on “Programme 3: Disarmament” for the proposed programme plan, which provides critical intergovernmental guidance to the Secretariat. Some delegations referred to that Committee's inability to reach a consensus on recommendations for 2023 for five programmes in total, including disarmament, and calls were made for the body to redouble its efforts to reach a consensus in future sessions.
At that same meeting, the Committee held its traditional exchange with members of civil society, hearing interventions from 15 organizations. The organizations reflected on various items under the Committee's purview, including humanitarian approaches to disarmament (see also figure 7), the elimination of nuclear weapons and the control of illicit small arms and light weapons. Several delegations welcomed the opportunity to engage with members of civil society, while one delegation hoped to see a more diverse pool of representatives, particularly from the developing world, representing civil society in subsequent exchanges with the Committee.
In accordance with General Assembly resolution 76/55 of 6 December 2021, on 27 October, the Disarmament and International Security Committee (First Committee) and the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee) convened a joint half-day panel discussion to address possible challenges to space security and sustainability. A draft programme was prepared by the Office for Disarmament Affairs and the Office for Outer Space Affairs (A/C.1/77/CRP.3). After consulting with the Committee Bureau, the Co-Chairs circulated a final programme in a letter dated 20 October.
The Chairs of the First and Fourth Committees opened the plenary meeting. The Director and Deputy to the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs and the Acting Director of the Office for Outer Space Affairs delivered remarks. The Committee heard presentations from invited panellists, including the Chair of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, Omran Sharaf (United Arab Emirates), and the Chair of the Open-ended Working Group on Reducing Space Threats through Norms, Rules and Principles of Responsible Behaviours, Hellmut Lagos (Chile). Additional panellists were drawn from the broader space community, including academia, civil society, industry and the private sector: Nayef Al-Rodhan, Geneva Centre for Security Policy; Guoyu Wang, Beijing Institute of Technology; and Jennifer Warren, Satellite Industry Association. The panel discussion was held in a hybrid format with video presentations from Mr. Lagos, Mr. Al-Rodhan and Mr. Wang; the other panellists participated in person.
Delegations from 19 Member States delivered statements in the interactive dialogue. Member States emphasized the importance of the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes. A number of Member States emphasized the importance of maintaining unhindered access to space for peaceful purposes. It was noted that the increase in the number of space objects posed a risk to space sustainability, hence the importance of the registration of space objects was emphasized.
Member States affirmed the value of the joint panel discussion in ensuring complementarity of the work of the various United Nations bodies and dialogue between them, given that diverse aspects of outer space were normally discussed in different forums. A number of Member States shared suggestions for further strengthening coordination and cooperation between United Nations bodies and entities on space-related matters.
As regards nuclear weapons, the Committee took action on 20 resolutions and four decisions, adopting just four of them without a vote. The only resolutions garnering consensus were those related to three nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties (77/34, 77/70 and 77/56) and the nuclear-weapon-free status of Mongolia. In line with past sessions, the cluster was highly contentious, with a rising number of paragraph votes, including on references to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and its first Meeting of States Parties, held in June.
States universally lamented the failure of the tenth Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference to reach a substantive outcome in August. Many States expressed serious concern over the heightened risk of the use of nuclear weapons, recalling the joint statement issued by the nuclear-weapon States in January to reaffirm the Gorbachev-Reagan principle that nuclear war cannot be won and must not be fought. Several States reiterated their concern over the lack of progress in nuclear disarmament under article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, calling for the total elimination of nuclear weapons through complete and verifiable means.
There were also acrimonious exchanges related to the situation on the Korean Peninsula, as in previous sessions, with many States calling upon the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to cease its development of nuclear weapons and missile launches. Furthermore, a number of States condemned the country’s actions as inflammatory and in violation of relevant resolutions of the Security Council. A tense debate also occurred around the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, with several States expressing hope for its revitalization and calling upon the Islamic Republic of Iran to return to compliance with the related obligations.
The Committee adopted five resolutions, two without a vote, and rejected one proposal under the cluster on other weapons of mass destruction. The annual resolutions dedicated to the “Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction” (77/95) and “Measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction” (77/75) were adopted by consensus.
A draft resolution proposed by the Russian Federation on the “Secretary General’s Mechanism for Investigation of Alleged Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons” (L.69) was rejected for a third consecutive year. Several delegations reiterated their concern from previous years that the initiative undermined the Mechanism’s impartiality and independence.
As in previous years, discussions related to chemical weapons remained dominated by developments related to the situation in the Syrian Arab Republic. The annual resolution on implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (77/73) was adopted by a vote for a ninth straight year, as it continued to include highly divisive language that included attributions of responsibility for the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic and the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
The Committee's consideration of biological weapons was equally fraught with division, with the Russian Federation’s accusations that the United States was violating its obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention by sponsoring military biological-weapon activities in Ukraine. The United States, Ukraine and Western allies dismissed what they characterized as a Russian disinformation campaign to malign peaceful international cooperation in the biological sciences. Despite contentious exchanges, the annual resolution on implementation of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (77/95) was adopted by consensus, in line with past practice.
The Committee adopted five resolutions, two without a vote, and one decision under the cluster on outer space (disarmament aspects). In line with previous voting patterns, the annual resolutions on “Prevention of an arms race in outer space” (77/40) and “Transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities” (77/251) were adopted by consensus.
A new resolution tabled by the United States calling for States to commit not to conduct destructive direct-ascent anti-satellite missile testing (77/41) was adopted by a large majority of States, however several States criticized it as a narrow, unconstructive measure that distracts from the more important efforts required to prevent an arms race in outer space. A joint Chinese-Russian initiative to re-establish a group of governmental experts to make recommendations on further practical measures for the prevention of an arms race in outer space (77/250) garnered sufficient support, but was strongly opposed by the United States and its allies. Western States continued to oppose the development of a legally binding instrument, viewing the ongoing discussions in the Geneva-based Open-ended Working Group on norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviour in outer space as the more viable way forward.
The Committee adopted nine resolutions and one decision under the cluster on conventional weapons. Voting patterns remained largely unchanged from previous years, with resolutions dedicated to specific treaties, including the Arms Trade Treaty (77/62), the Convention on Cluster Munitions (77/79) and the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (77/63), subject to the usual votes. The Arms Trade Treaty, in particular, remained a source of division, as references to it triggered individual paragraph votes across several resolutions under the cluster.
The Committee also adopted the annual resolution on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons (77/71). By that measure, the Committee reaffirmed the recommendations made at the eighth Biennial Meeting of States on the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons in July, including the establishment of a dedicated fellowship programme to enhance the knowledge and capacity of developing States in small-arms control.
Many States also welcomed the recent conclusion of a political declaration to address the humanitarian harm arising from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas and looked forward to the adoption ceremony in Dublin that would take place in November.
The Committee adopted 16 drafts under the cluster on other disarmament measures and international security, including one decision adopted by consensus on the Open-ended Working Group on Security of and in the Use of Information and Communications Technologies (2021–2025) established pursuant to General Assembly resolution 75/240. A new resolution tabled by Kyrgyzstan on the “International Day for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Awareness” (77/51) was adopted without a vote.
Discussions on the topic of cybersecurity featured deep divisions among States. Three separate texts were tabled, including a procedural decision by the Chair (Singapore) of the 2021–2025 Open-ended Working Group on cybersecurity endorsing the progress report adopted by the Group at its most recent session in July. Two additional resolutions were tabled, one by France and the other by the Russian Federation. The Russian-sponsored text was submitted largely as a response to the French initiative (77/37), which aims to launch the development of a “Programme of Action” to advance responsible State behaviour in the use of information and communications technologies in the context of international security. The Russian text (77/36) emphasized the centrality of the current Open-ended Working Group and called upon States to consider intergovernmental dialogue only within that framework. Despite opposition to both proposals, each passed with a sufficient number of votes.
With regard to gender and diversity, the Committee continued to hear a growing number of calls for the inclusion of more diverse voices, including those of women, youth and individuals from the Global South. The biennial resolution dedicated to “Women, disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control” (77/55), led by Trinidad and Tobago, was adopted without a vote; it was subject to many individual paragraph votes, however, with opposition from some States that continued to argue that issues related to women’s participation and gender did not belong in the First Committee.
The Committee adopted eight resolutions under the cluster on disarmament machinery, including one by vote. Discussion on the disarmament machinery was centred largely on the dynamics of the Conference on Disarmament, although, after a three-year hiatus, several States welcomed the resumption of work of the Disarmament Commission in 2022. Breaking the long-standing tradition of adoption by consensus, the annual resolution on the Report of the Conference on Disarmament (77/89) was adopted by a vote after long and difficult negotiations in Geneva had yielded only a procedural report for the body for 2022.
The United Nations Disarmament Commission held the second session of its three-year cycle of deliberations at United Nations Headquarters from 4 to 21 April, successfully concluding its three-week session after a hiatus of three years. At its organizational session on 4 April, the Disarmament Commission elected Xolisa Mabhongo (South Africa) as Chair for the 2022 session. The Commission also elected Zhangeldy Syrymbet (Kazakhstan) as Vice-Chair (A/CN.10/PV.376 (Resumption 2)).
At the same meeting, the Disarmament Commission addressed other organizational issues necessary to resume its substantive session. Pursuant to consultations at informal meetings held virtually on 9 and 17 March, the Commission decided that it would continue considering the agenda items adopted for its 2018–2020 cycle for the period 2022 and 2023, namely: (a) recommendations for achieving the objective of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons (item 4); and (b) preparation of recommendations to promote the practical implementation of transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities with the goal of preventing an arms race in outer space, in accordance with the recommendations contained in the report of the Group of Governmental Experts on Transparency and Confidence-building Measures in Outer Space Activities (A/68/189) (item 5). Additionally, the Commission decided to resume its work from the second year of the three-year cycle.
Following the organizational session, the Disarmament Commission opened its substantive session on 4 April. In his opening remarks, the Chair stressed that a serious lack of trust fed instability in conflict zones and raised tensions among major military powers while also impeding progress in nuclear disarmament and driving the relentless expansion of military budgets. Summarizing the Commission’s deliberations on its two agenda items in the 2018 sessions and developments since then, he pointed out that the topic of nuclear disarmament had been discussed since 2006 and expressed the hope of seeing progress in 2022. Referring to South Africa’s full commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Chair noted that his country had set an example in the early 1990s by showing that it was possible to voluntarily dismantle a nuclear-weapon programme. He also noted that, nine years after the Group of Governmental Experts on Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures in Outer Space Activities had concluded its work, there was still considerable scope for reviewing the implementation of the agreed transparency and confidence-building measures (A/CN.10/PV.377).
In her opening statement, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs noted that the risk of the use of nuclear weapons was now higher than at any time since the height of the cold war. Furthermore, she noted that the development of new conventional-weapon systems with strategic effects and the burgeoning nexus between nuclear weapons and new domains in cyber and outer space only magnified the prospects for miscommunication and miscalculation. Referring to a resurgence of the idea that nuclear weapons provided the ultimate guarantee of security, she refuted that narrative as false and stressed that the possession of nuclear weapons endangered our collective security. In that connection, she cited the Secretary-General’s repeated statement that nothing could justify the use of nuclear weapons.
The High Representative also expressed concern that outer space was once again devolving into an arena for geographic and strategic competition, with an increasing number of States treating outer space as a potential domain for active hostilities. Noting that implementing agreed transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities remained a salient priority, she encouraged the Commission to focus in particular on aspects where the recommendations by the Group of Governmental Experts on Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures in Outer Space Activities could give needed guidance to States and fill gaps in existing practice.
She further stressed that the work of the Commission should be seen as complementary to other workstreams within the framework of the United Nations on outer space security and sustainability, referring to the Open-ended Working Group on Reducing Space Threats through Norms, Rules and Principles of Responsible Behaviours, as well as the Conference on Disarmament. She also observed that, in his report entitled “Our Common Agenda” (A/75/982), the Secretary-General proposed a multi-stakeholder dialogue on outer space as part of the Summit of the Future in 2023. According to the High Representative, such a dialogue could seek a high-level agreement on the peaceful, secure and sustainable use of outer space traffic and agree on principles for the future governance of outer space activities (A/CN.10/PV.377).
At the same meeting on 4 April, the Disarmament Commission elected Kurt Davis (Jamaica) as Chair of Working Group I and Szilvia Balázs (Hungary) as Chair of Working Group II (A/CN.10/PV.377). The Commission then began the general exchange of views on all agenda items, holding four plenary meetings for that purpose on 4 and 5 April (A/CN.10/PV.377, A/CN.10/PV.378, A/CN.10/PV.379 and A/CN.10/PV.380). Thereafter, the two working groups commenced their work on their respective agenda items. Working Group I held 10 meetings from 5 to 21 April. Working Group II held 10 meetings from 4 to 20 April.
Following three weeks of deliberations in plenary meetings and its respective working groups, the Disarmament Commission concluded its 2022 substantive session at its 382nd meeting on 21 April by adopting a final report, with the consensus reports of its two working groups, that provided a procedural summary, for submission to the General Assembly at its seventy-seventh session (A/77/42). No recommendations were put forward on the agenda items (A/CN.10/PV.382).
During the four plenary meetings held for the general exchange of views on 4 and 5 April, over 60 Member States addressed the Commission (A/77/42, para. 11). Many States highlighted the importance of the Commission’s resumption of substantive work, expressing hope that it would contribute towards revitalizing the disarmament machinery and achieving a successful outcome at the tenth Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in August. States parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons welcomed its entry into force.
Nuclear-weapon States and non-nuclear-weapon States expressed starkly different views on nuclear disarmament. Nuclear-weapon States emphasized the need to take into account the global security environment and focus on nuclear risk reductions, while many non-nuclear-weapon States highlighted the lack of progress in nuclear disarmament, criticizing the modernization of nuclear weapons. Arab countries welcomed the convening of the first and second sessions of the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction, and they reiterated the vital importance of implementing the Middle East resolution adopted at the 1995 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review and Extension Conference (NPT/CONF.1995/32 (Part I), annex).
While Member States agreed that outer space should be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and an arms race therein should be prevented, they expressed divergent views on the approach to achieve that goal. Many States supported the negotiation of a legally binding instrument to prevent weaponization of outer space, including the draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space and the threat or use of force against outer space objects proposed by China and the Russian Federation (CD/1839). Meanwhile, the United States, the United Kingdom and other Western States stressed the importance of promoting transparency and confidence-building measures and pointed to the flaws they saw in the proposed treaty. Highlighting the danger of long-lasting space debris, the United States decried the Russian Federation’s anti-satellite missile test in November 2021, which generated a massive debris field.
A significant number of States condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, urging the Russian Federation to cease its hostilities and withdraw its troops from Ukraine. In turn, referring to evidence that Ukraine was preparing a full-scale invasion of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, the Russian Federation stated that it had no choice but to support Donetsk and Luhansk and launch a special military operation to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine, calling upon other States not to politicize the work of the Disarmament Commission. Ukraine, for its part, accused the Russian Federation of destroying civilian infrastructure such as schools and hospitals, deliberately killing civilians and actively planting mines on Ukrainian territory. It denounced alleged Russian disinformation regarding weapons of mass destruction in Ukraine, rejecting statements by Russian officials concerning the alleged creation of a dirty nuclear bomb in the country as well as the alleged development of biological weapons and chemical attacks (A/CN.10/PV.378).
Given the significant work achieved in 2018, Working Group I used the Chair's non-paper from that year's session (A/CN.10/2018/WG.I/CRP.3) as the basis for discussions on agenda item 4, holding a robust exchange on the proposals in that paper at its first three meetings on 6, 7 and 8 April. Based on those discussions, the Chair circulated a non-paper on recommendations for achieving the objective of nuclear disarmament and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons on 8 April, a revised non-paper on 12 April and a further revised paper on 18 April. The Working Group exchanged views and made proposals on those papers over the course of seven meetings held from 11 to 21 April.
The deliberations of the Working Group contrasted opposite views on key issues, particularly between nuclear-weapon States and non-nuclear-weapon States. Nuclear-weapon States and their allies stressed the importance of taking into account the international security environment in relation to nuclear disarmament and focused on developing practical recommendations for nuclear risk reductions. Meanwhile, non-nuclear-weapon States, particularly those advocating the humanitarian disarmament approach, vehemently rejected any attempts by nuclear-weapon States to place any conditionality for nuclear disarmament or shift focus away from the primacy of nuclear disarmament in the Group’s work. Members of the Non-Aligned Movement also maintained that nuclear risk reductions were not the mandate of the Working Group.
The Arab States and the Islamic Republic of Iran demanded that the recommendations of the Arab States include references to the Middle East resolution adopted at the 1995 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review and Extension Conference, as well as the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction established by General Assembly decision 73/246. Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States reiterated their objection to such references. The League of Arab States submitted a working paper to Working Group I (A/CN.10/2022/WG.I/WP.1).
At its tenth and final meeting, the Chair decided to issue his paper dated 21 April under his own responsibility and without prejudice to the position of any delegation (A/CN.10/2022/WG.I/CRP.1). The Chair also annexed to his paper a compilation of the proposals made by Member States at the 2022 meetings of the Working Groups. The Working Group agreed to continue its discussion on the paper at the next session. It concluded its work by adopting, by consensus, a procedural report (A/CN.10/2022/CRP.2/Rev.1). In reporting on the work of the Working Group at the closing session of the Commission on 21 April, its Chair, Kurt Davis, observed that agreement on the recommendations proved elusive, and, in his view, the breadth of proposals in the Chair’s non-paper dated 21 April meant that the Commission would be faced with a formidable task in reaching consensus at its 2023 session (A/CN.10/PV.382).
Given that the Disarmament Commission had last formally considered the agenda item relating to transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities in 2018, Working Group II began by holding a series of briefings to refamiliarize Member States with the topic. The aim of the presentations, which included representatives of non-governmental organizations as speakers, was to facilitate an exchange of views and proposals throughout the course of the Working Group’s meetings. Member States also exchanged information on their national space policies and discussed possible recommendations to be considered for adoption at the end of the three-year cycle. The Russian Federation and the Arab States submitted working papers (A/CN.10/2022/WG.II/WP.1 and A/CN.10/2022/WG.II/WP.2).
At the first meeting, on 5 April, the Working Group held a general exchange of views and heard presentations by the Chair of the Open-ended Working Group on Reducing Space Threats through Norms, Rules and Principles of Responsible Behaviours, Hellmut Lagos (Chile), and a representative of the Office for Disarmament Affairs. At the following five meetings, held from 6 to 12 April, the Working Group held discussions on the report of the Group of Governmental Experts on Transparency and Confidence-building Measures in Outer Space Activities (A/68/189), exchanging views on its provisions as follows: section IV.A (“Information exchange on space policies”) on 6 April; section IV.B (“Information exchange and notifications related to outer space activities”) on 7 April; section IV.C (“Risk reduction notifications”) on 8 April; section IV.D (“Contact and visits to space launch sites and facilities”) on 11 April; and sections V and VI (“International cooperation” and “Consultative mechanisms”) on 12 April. At those meetings, the Working Group heard presentations by representatives of international organizations and non-governmental entities.
At the seventh and eighth meetings, the Chair invited Member States to exchange information on their national space policies. The Working Group heard presentations by representatives of France, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Portugal and Sri Lanka on 13 April and by China, Japan, Mexico, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States on 14 April. At the ninth and tenth meetings, held on 19 and 20 April, the Working Group discussed the outcome of its work.
During those extensive deliberations, conducted over the course of the 10 meetings of the Working Group, the Chair decided to issue a summary that reflected her understanding of the key points raised without prejudice to the position of any delegation. The summary was intended to provide a basis for the work of the Working Group at the 2023 session of the Disarmament Commission. At its tenth and final meeting, the Working Group concluded its work by adopting, by consensus, a procedural report (A/CN.10/2022/CRP.3/Rev.1).
In 1978, at the first special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament, United Nations Member States recognized the continuing need for a single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum (S-10/2, paras. 120–124). The Conference on Disarmament assumed that role the following year, succeeding other Geneva-based negotiating forums that included the Ten-Nation Committee on Disarmament (1960), the Eighteen-Nation Committee on Disarmament (1962–1968), and the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament (1969–1978).
On 25 January, at the first plenary of the 2022 session of the Conference on Disarmament, the Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to the Conference, Tatiana Valovaya, delivered a statement in which she called for constructive dialogue and renewed multilateralism among participants. Amid the rising global tensions and growing distrust, she urged Member States to engage in more networked and inclusive negotiations on core agenda items and disarmament instruments. She further recalled that despite the challenges, the year 2021 had seen successes in the areas of disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation, including the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, as well as the review conferences of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and the Convention on Cluster Munitions. All of the subsequent speakers in the first plenary echoed the Secretary-General of the Conference in reiterating the need for stronger political will to tackle the forum’s potential in developing codes of conduct and confidence-building measures, as well as in enhancing dialogue among its participants (CD/PV.1598).
The Conference held its high-level segment from 28 February to 2 March under the presidency of Alicia Victoria Arango Olmos (Colombia), with over 100 participants attending every day. The outbreak of the war in Ukraine increased interest in the high-level segment, with 60 statements (of which 49 were delivered at the ministerial or deputy ministerial level) delivered over three days, largely condemning the ongoing Russian offensive. Concerns over the use of weapons of mass destruction and explosive weapons in populated areas in Ukraine further escalated tensions, prompting calls for military de-escalation.
The negotiations undertaken by the first President, Li Song (China), resulted in a preliminary agreement on the subsidiary bodies (CD/2229) that were later formalized under the presidency of Colombia. Those negotiations also secured the participation as observers of 37 non-member States in the work of the Conference.
The Conference established one subsidiary body for each of its first four agenda items, as well as one subsidiary body covering agenda items five to seven (CD/2224). The Conference further appointed coordinators and established a timetable for meetings of the subsidiary bodies. Despite all efforts, States could not agree to any of the reports on nuclear-related topics covered by subsidiary bodies 1 (“Cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament”, coordinated by Algeria), 2 (“Prevention of nuclear war, including all related matters”, coordinated by Spain) or 4 (“Effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons”, coordinated by Indonesia). During the last day of the 2022 session, on 16 September, States agreed to adopt only the final reports for subsidiary bodies 3 (“Prevention of an arms race in outer space”, coordinated by Chile) (CD/2308) and 5 (“New types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons; radiological weapons — Comprehensive programme of disarmament — Transparency in armament”, coordinated by Belarus) (CD/2309).
On 19 May, during the term of the third President, Juan Antonio Quintanilla Román (Cuba), the Conference discussed a proposal to update its Rules of Procedure to reflect the equality of men and women. While putting on the table the previous proposals from Australia (CD/2198) and Canada (CD/2218), Cuba also made a new proposal (CD/WP.640) that suggested inserting an introductory explanation to the Rules of Procedure whereby any reference to a man would be interpreted as also referring to a woman, in line with the General Assembly’s Rules of Procedure (A/520/Rev.19). Most Western European and other States objected to the proposal as insufficient and called for stronger measures on gender equality, while others opposed discussing the topic in the Conference.
At the first meeting of the fourth presidency, under Han Tae Song (the Democratic People's Republic of Korea), several Member States condemned the ballistic missile launches from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, noting the violations of numerous Security Council resolutions.
The fifth President of the year, Paul Empole Efambe (Democratic Republic of the Congo), organized the only thematic discussion outside the subsidiary bodies. The 10 August plenary meeting on “The centrality of international cooperation and capacity-building in building a safe and secure cyberspace” featured presentations from Moliehi Makumane, Researcher at the Security and Technology Programme at the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research; Prosper Ntetika, Legal Adviser at the Digital Technology Ministry of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Clarice Lim, Counsellor from the Permanent Mission of Singapore to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva; Kubo Mačák, Legal Adviser at the International Committee of the Red Cross; and Edoardo Ravaioli, Head of the Cybersecurity Tech Accord secretariat.
The sixth President, Emilio Rafael Izquierdo Miño (Ecuador), led the contentious negotiations on adopting the Conference's report to the General Assembly. Faced with uncompromising views from Member States, Ecuador was forced to put aside the draft report and, at the last minute, present the Conference with a five-paragraph technical report (CD/2310), which included the proposed dates for the 2023 session. The General Assembly adopted the Conference’s report on 7 December, doing so by a vote for the first time (A/77/387).
The Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters held its seventy-sixth session online from 9 to 11 February and its seventy-seventh session in person in New York from 28 to 30 June.
During those sessions, the Board began a two-year programme of work on global military spending. The aim was to offer a fresh perspective on ways to manage and eventually reverse the upward trajectory of such spending, limit its negative impacts and contribute to a constructive conversation that could foster meaningful, transformative shifts. The Board also sought to understand the obstacles to past efforts to determine what might be relevant and revived for today or where new avenues could be explored.
Recognizing that military spending is multi-faceted and multipurposed, the Board had in-depth discussions both among its members and with external experts of various backgrounds, nationalities, ages and genders with respect to the political, economic and social factors that underlie and drive such spending, as well as its impacts. In its deliberations, which were summarized in a report to the General Assembly submitted in August (A/77/263), the Board anticipated that the upward trend in military spending would continue in the immediate period in view of increased geostrategic tensions and ongoing armed conflict. At the same time, it noted that countries faced serious economic strains, as well as the need to invest significant resources to address climate change and advance the Sustainable Development Goals. Against that backdrop, members underscored that there was an urgent need to invest in diplomacy, disarmament and arms control, as well as a readiness to seek cooperative responses to resolve all those issues. The Board also believed that sophisticated approaches would be needed to foster a “transformative shift” in military spending, avoiding prescriptions that failed to understand the goals and interests that propelled it and recognizing the need to make distinctions among types of military spending.
Throughout its discussions, the Board considered several potential areas for action. They included the following: (a) encouraging conflict prevention, mitigation and peacebuilding activities, including through diplomatic initiatives; (b) refreshing available research, data and analysis that could update understandings of military spending in the twenty-first century and foster greater dialogue on policy actions; (c) pursuing disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation efforts, including through operational transparency and confidence-building measures; (d) examining ways in which notions of what constitutes security should be broadened to include non-military, transnational threats, such as those related to climate change or pandemics, and the implications for realigning financial allocations accordingly; (e) fostering collaboration between the United Nations and regional organizations to promote transparency and dialogue on military spending and security concerns; and (f) enhancing global public support for disarmament and arms control, including awareness of military spending, with a view to encouraging political action to reverse the global upward trend.
In its capacity as the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), the Board also reviewed the Institute’s current programmes, activities, and finances, including ongoing efforts to strengthen its policy impact, achieve financial sustainability and further expand its global engagement. In addition, the Board was briefed on the activities and initial impact of the Institute’s New York Liaison Office, as well as on two initiatives that are part of the UNIDIR four-year strategic framework: a workstream focusing on a future and foresight approach allowing the Institute to explore the cross-programmatic disarmament landscape in ongoing and new project areas; and the UNIDIR Academy for education and training, which serves as a platform that pools together the Institute’s various ongoing and future educational and capacity-building activities. The Board approved the report of the Director on the activities of the Institute for the period from January to December 2021 and the proposed programme of work and financial plan for 2023.
The Board planned to continue its programme of work and prepare recommendations in 2023, building on the key points and concepts it had identified. The Secretary-General would report the resulting findings to the General Assembly at its eightieth session.
 “Recommendations for achieving the objective of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons”; “Preparation of recommendations to promote the practical implementation of transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities with the goal of preventing an arms race in outer space, in accordance with the recommendations contained in the report of the Group of Governmental Experts on Transparency and Confidence-building Measures in Outer Space Activities”.
 The First Committee adopted 66 resolutions and 8 decisions.
 For the verbatim records (A/C.1/77/PV.1–32), see “General Assembly First Committee (2022)”, United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, Meetings Place (verbatim records are posted as they become available).
 The election of Mohan Pieris as Chair, without a vote, followed a note dated 6 September from the Philippines, in its capacity as Chair of the group of Asia-Pacific States, informing the Secretariat of Kazakhstan’s decision to withdraw Magzhan Ilyassov’s candidature for the position.
 Chair, eighth Biennial Meeting of States to Consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, Enrique Manalo; Chair, Group of Governmental Experts on the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms; and Chair, Open-ended Working Group on Security of and in the Use of Information and Communications Technologies (2021–2025).
 In raising the matter, Brazil recalled the resolution on the Committee for Programme and Coordination (75/243), which affirmed that whenever the Committee could not provide conclusions and recommendations on a given subprogramme, in that case “Disarmament”, the plenary or relevant Main Committee of the General Assembly responsible for those mandates would consider said subprogramme at the start of its session and thereafter provide any recommendations to the Fifth Committee (see A/C.1/76/PV.1).
 Australia (on behalf of Australia, Canada and New Zealand), Brazil, Cuba, Egypt, France, Pakistan, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States and European Union.
 Argentina, Austria, Belarus, Brazil, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, France, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Netherlands, Pakistan, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom (also on behalf of Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Türkiye, Ukraine, United States and European Union) and United States.
 The resolution was derived from the commitment announced by United States Vice President Kamala Harris in April that it would not conduct such testing and that it would seek to establish that commitment as a new international norm for responsible behaviour in space.
 The Commission was unable to hold its previous three sessions owing to the issue of visas in 2019, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and the absence of the nomination of the Chair in 2021.
 There was no further nomination of candidates for the remaining members of the Bureau from the regional groups in the 2022 session.
 Xolisa Mabhongo, in his capacity as Chair-nominee, held two rounds of informal consultations on 9 and 17 March to address organizational issues that had arisen as a result of the cancellation of the Commission’s substantive sessions in 2019, 2020 and 2021. See A/CN.10/PV.376 (Resumption 2).
 At its seventy-fourth session, the General Assembly adopted decision 74/511, whereby it decided that the Disarmament Commission would continue consideration of the same agenda items as those adopted in 2018 at its substantive session of 2020. In 2020 and 2021, the Assembly adopted decisions 75/519 and 76/518, respectively, agreeing on the technical rollover of the Commission’s mandate. These decisions allowed the Commission to extend its mandate for the 2018–2020 cycle. See A/CN.10/PV.376 (Resumption 2).
 Those presentations were provided by Victoria Samson of the Secure World Foundation; Nivedita Raju of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute; Paul Wohrer of the Fondation pour la recherche stratégique; Brian Flewelling of ExoAnalytic Solutions; Dmitry Stefanovich of the Centre for International Security at the Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences; Aya Iwamoto of Astroscale Japan; Noel Stott of the Verification, Research, Training and Information Centre; Brian Weeden of the Consortium for Execution of Rendezvous and Servicing Operations; Pavel Podvig of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research; Natercia Rodrigues and Nicholas Hedman of the Office for Outer Space Affairs; and Véronique Glaude of the International Telecommunication Union.