Did you know ? France’s participation to the Conference on disarmament’s predecessors [fr]
Did you know ?
In April 1962, Le Monde Diplomatique ran the headline "Conference on Disarmament, Geneva without France". The current Conference on Disarmament is the heir to other forums instigated during the Cold War, in which France refused to participate.
The Conference on Disarmament, established in 1978 by the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly devoted to disarmament, is the heir to several other disarmament fora initiated during the Cold War.
In 1962, the United States and the USSR set up the 18-Power Committee on Disarmament in Geneva. These 18 members represented the Western camp, the Soviet camp and the non-aligned camp. France refused to take part in the work of this committee, which it considered to be too subject to the influence of the two great powers.
In 1969, the Committee was enlarged and transformed into the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament. Comprising 26 members, it was co-chaired by the United States and the USSR. The work of the Conference was already being carried out under the impetus of regional groups. Delegations of the participating States met outside the Conference in order to prepare common positions to be presented at the formal sessions of the Conference. This mechanism still functions today. In 1975, the Conference welcomed new members and was now composed of 31 members. France, however, continued to advocate for a body with a spirit of universality, open membership, egalitarian participation and linked to the United Nations system.
It was not until 1978 that France became one of the 40 members of the Disarmament Committee established by the 1978 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Disarmament. In 1982, the Committee was renamed the Conference on Disarmament. The presidency of the Conference became rotating, decisions were based on consensus, and the negotiation of disarmament treaties could finally move forward.
The Conference on Disarmament now has 65 members, and France participates actively in the work of this unique multilateral disarmament negotiating forum.