Our main task is to represent the Kingdom of the Netherlands at the Geneva-based permanent Conference on Disarmament and at the First Committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
This body meets in New York every year in October and deals with disarmament and international security. We are also responsible for covering other disarmament treaties, such as Nuclear Non-Proliferation, Biological Weapons, Landmines, Cluster Munitions and Small Arms.
The Netherlands has a strong tradition of playing an active and creative role in disarmament affairs. In our contacts, we engage as a matter of routine other countries' Delegations, international organizations, UN bodies, representatives from the academic world and non-governmental organizations on these important matters.
The Conference on Disarmament
The Conference on Disarmament (CD), –the single multilateral forum of the UN to negotiate disarmament affairs– is based in Geneva, which makes the city the international center of disarmament diplomacy. The CD was established in 1979 and comprises of 65 member states and over 40 observer states. The Netherlands has been a member of the CD since the establishment and is part of the Western European and Others Group (WEOG). The CD’s main issues are: nuclear disarmament, the establishment of a Fissile Materials Cut-off Treaty (FMCT); prevention of an arms race in outer space; nuclear disarmament; and negative security assurances. The CD has established the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)
The Non-Proliferation Treaty
The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is the main instrument towards a world free of nuclear weapons is. The NPT consists of three pillars: non-proliferation, disarmament, and the right to peaceful uses of nuclear technology. The five nuclear weapon states, China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States, are all members to the Treaty, like most of the UN member states. The Netherlands, together with 11 other states, is member of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI). NPDI advocates for practical and innovative ways to implement obligations of the NPT and its 2010 Action Plan.
2017 marks the start of a new preparatory process leading to the NPT review conference in 2020 when the NPT will celebrate its 50th anniversary since its entry into force in 1970. The Netherlands will chair in May 2017 the first NPT Preparatory Committee in Vienna.
The UN General Assembly’s First Committee
The UN General Assembly’s First Committee deals with disarmament, global challenges and threats to peace that affect the international community and seeks out solutions to the challenges in the international security regime. It meets every year in October in New York and adopts annually 50 to 60 resolutions on the abovementioned topics. The Netherlands is an active participant in the First Committee and leads several resolutions, notably on transparency issues.
Fissile Material is the most important raw material for nuclear weapons. To limit these materials the CD has been aiming for several years to negotiate a Fissile Materials Cut-off Treaty (FMCT). In 2014 a Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) from 25 countries was established to make recommendations on negotiations for a FMCT. In October 2016 the UNGA First Committee passed a resolution submitted by Canada, Germany and the Netherlands on the establishment of a high-level preparatory group mandated to consider and make recommendations on substantial elements of a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.
Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention
Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention (BTWC) was negotiated in 1975 and replaced the 1925 Geneva Protocol. The development, production and stockpiling of biological weapons are prohibited under the Convention. The Netherlands attaches great importance to this convention and chaired the 7th review conference in 2011.
Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons
Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) is a framework treaty prohibiting the use of weapons which are deemed to be inhumane. The treaty now has 5 separate protocols
on non-detectable fragments, landmines, booby-traps, incendiary Weapons, blinding laser weapons, and explosive remnants of war. Since 1983 121 countries have joined the Convention.
The Netherlands was the initiator of Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War. The Netherlands is also active in current discussions on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS),
better known as “Killer Robots”.
The Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention
The Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention entered into force in 1999. Currently 163 countries are member to the Convention. Under the Convention the use, production, stockpiling, and
transfer of mines are prohibited. Aside from this, countries are engaged in stockpile destruction, clearing mined areas, and assisting mine victims. The Netherlands is one of the largest donors for clearance of mine and cluster munitions. Through a tender system with multi-annual financing the Netherlands supports four organizations that are active in mine and cluster munitions related activities in 12 countries. The Netherlands advocates for the implementation of convention related obligations before 2025.
The Convention on Cluster Munitions
The Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) was established in 2010 to ban the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of these weapons. 119 states have signed the Convention up to date. After signing the Convention, states are obliged to destroy their stockpile within eight years and clear cluster remnants within ten years.
In 2016 the Netherlands was President of the CCM and chaired the 6th Meeting of States Parties. The meeting adopted a political declaration with the aim to accelerate implementation of the 2015 Dubrovnik Action Plan before 2030.
The Arms Trade Treaty
The Arms Trade Treaty is one of the latest successes in disarmament. The treaty was negotiated in April 2013 and provides rules and regulations concerning arms trade. States need
to establish a national control system to regulate the export. Furthermore, the Treaty calls for more transparency and aims to limit the illicit trade in weapons. At this stage 130 countries have
signed the ATT and 88 have already ratified the treaty. The Netherlands is a strong supporter of the Treaty. It was amongst the first countries to sign and ratify the Treaty. The challenge for the ATT is to start its implementation.
Small Arms and Light Weapons
Small Arms and Light Weapons cause most casualties worldwide. These weapons are easy to use, carry, and hide, and are therefore often the weapons of choice in conflict situations. There is no comprehensive treaty yet for this type of weapons but only a political document, the 2001 UN Program of Action to Prevent, Combat, and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons.