Before closing allow me to make a few remarks.
During this session of the First Committee several delegations have drawn our attention to the many setbacks and problems we have experienced in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation in recent years.
But as I said in my opening statement 4 weeks ago the issues we are dealing with are of such a fundamental importance that there is no alternative to trying harder, despite what we have to face of obstacles and difficulties.
In assessing this year’s session of the First Committee I note that there continues to be room for improvement as regards the repetitive nature of our work. But I think it is being gradually acknowledged that a resolution remains valid until it is replaced by another resolution on the same subject matter. And this does not need to happen every year.
Nonetheless, I also note that new, and very relevant, issues were introduced this year, like the question on a possible international arms trade treaty. This is healthy for our work.
From the outset I was determined to continue the process of improving the working methods of the committee. I think we have made some progress. In the UN time is a costly commodity. But we have been able to utilise our allocated time better than in previous years. Delegations have, by and large, respected my decision to start the meetings as scheduled at 10AM and 3PM respectively. Some delay has been unavoidable. But this was not due to bad organization of our work, but rather that delegations took greater interest in participating in the debates than anticipated. This is good news.
I think that the cluster approach to our debates proved valuable indeed. But we can do even better. Occasionally the debates became fragmented and overlapping. This is an organizational challenge which I believe we can overcome. The secretariat represents our collective memory and I know it will assist next year’s Chair to rectify the problems we identified this year.
Also the participation of experts and high officials from our arms control instruments improved the quality of this year’s debates in the Committee. Some adjustments will be needed in the future to secure an optimal interactive dialogue between experts, officials and delegates.
Civil society contributed fruitfully to our deliberations on 19. October. I am pleased that delegations took considerable interest in exchanging views with non-governmental organizations on issues related both to nuclear weapons and conventional arms.
In conclusion I consider this year’s session of the First Committee to have been a reasonable succesful one.
When we commenced our work I asked for your cooperation and you have certainly delivered. I do indeed appreciate that. Many of you will now return to arms control diplomacy in other fora. I wish you all the best and hope you found at least some inspiration from this year’s First Committee session.