3 October 2012, United Nations Headquarters, New York, USA – Right on time before the start of the First Committee debate during the 67th session of the General Assembly, UNITAR New York Office (UNITAR NYO), jointly with the Permanent Missions of Egypt and Indonesia, carried out for the second subsequent year a Special Briefing on the Work of the First Committee. The briefing, hosted by the Permanent Mission of Indonesia, provided over 80 new delegates from more than 60 different countries with substantial knowledge on critical issues to the mandate of the First Committee, such as resolutions dealing with nuclear and conventional weapons, the NPT Review Conference preparatory process and the Governmental Groups of Experts.

The briefing gave delegates the extraordinary opportunity to hear welcoming remarks by H.E. Mr. Mootaz Khalil, Permanent Representative of Egypt to the United Nations and H.E. Mr. Desra Percaya, Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the United Nations and newly elected Chair of the First Committee for the 67th session of the General Assembly, who expressed his special concern with reaching progress on the Arms Trade Treaty during the following week’s First Committee debate.  Thereafter, H.E. Ms. Angela Kane, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, reminded the Member State representatives of their great responsibility and expressed her hope and expectation that the First Committee would issue a resolution, which would resume the missing outcome of this year’s Conference on Disarmament.  In her introductory remarks, UNITAR NYO Head, Yvonne Lodico, remarked that despite references in the UN Charter, including 1, 6, 7 and the preamble, no international treaty defined weapons of mass destruction – exemplifying the First Committee’s challenges.

People_attending_Briefing_in_UN_Headquarters_roomDuring five different panels, numerous members of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (ODA), among them Mr. Daniel Prins, Chief of the Conventional Arms Branch and Mr. John Ennis, Chief of the Information and Outreach Branch, exemplified their mandate to serve the Member states sharing their expert knowledge with the new delegates and thus, preparing them for the upcoming discussions. So, Randy Rydell, Senior Political Affairs Officer at the Office of the High Representatives and Fiona Simpson, Political Affairs Officer in the Weapons of Mass Destruction Branch, gave an introduction into the most important resolutions dealing with nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, while Mr. Prins focused on resolutions regarding conventional weapons.

But delegates could acquire knowledge and opinions not only from a UN-internal point of view, but also from the perspective of academics, represented, inter alia, by Dr. Daniel H. Joyner, Professor of Law, who, together with Dr. John Burroughs, Executive Director of the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy and with Mr. Valere Mantels, Secretary of the Preparatory Committee of the NPT 2015 Review Process, gave insights on the most critical issues and challenges regarding the upcoming NPT Conference. They discussed the possibility of moving forward on a basis of international humanitarian law analysis.

Also present to brief the delegates were representatives of the civil society: Mr. Jeff Abramson, Director (Secretariat) of Control Arms and Ms. Ray Acheson, Project Director of Reaching Critical Will, presented the central issues, such as disarmament and Arms Trade Treaties from an NGO perspective and briefed delegates on sources of information and opinion beyond the UN system.

Mr. Amr Aljowaily, Counsellor of the Permanent Mission of Egypt and co-organizer of the event, expressed his great satisfaction with the event and pronounced plans to institutionalize the Special Briefing: “There was a very special dynamic at this year’s Special Briefing on the work of the First Committee. Rather than a briefing, it was a dialogue between the Member States and other important stakeholders. We, the organizers, believe that this kind of dialogue is very important and can make a big contribution to reach a successful outcome at the following First Committee debate. Therefore we wish to continue the Special Briefings as a regularly held First Committee Dialogue. We are looking forward to welcoming all delegates and other participants next year at this event.”