The Conference on Disarmament: "Unique and multilateral forum of negotiation" [fr]
Created under the auspices of the League of Nations in Geneva, the first worldwide Conference on Disarmament is held in 1928 and groups 60 states together. Despite the likelihood of the signature of an agreement already mentioning a qualitative and quantitative limitation of the military arsenals, measures of transparency of the military expenses and a mechanism of inspection in case of suspicion of violations, the project fails in 1936. The withdrawal of Germany from the League of Nations leads to a suspension of the Conference activities, that never resumed.
In 1962, following the statement of the 20th of September 1961, the United States and the Sovietic Union decide to create the “Conference of the eighteen-nations committee on disarmament”, approved by the United Nations General Assembly the same year. When the committee begins its work, it gathers together 5 Eastern states, 5 Western states and 8 non-aligned states. France, judging the institution too dependent on the two superpowers and invoking its lateness regarding the nuclear field, does not wish to take part in the Committee.
In 1969, nine more members join the forum thus called « the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament ». During the 1978 extraordinary session of the United Nations General Assembly, the forum is restructured from being the “Unique Forum of negotiation on Disarmament”, becoming in 1984 the “Conference on Disarmament”. In 1978 its membership is enlarged to the states possessing the nuclear weapon and to 33 other states to respect a geographic equity. In order to consider the post Cold War environment, a new enlargement has been processed in 1996. The Conference counts now 65 members.
After 1978, the Conference on Disarmament‘s work has been focused on the negotiation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (1992) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (1996). But the previous organs dedicated to disarmament also negotiated important conventions. From 1962 to 1978 are negotiated the Non Proliferation Treaty (1968), the Treaty on the Prohibition of the Emplacement of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction on the Seabed and the Ocean Floor and in the Subsoil thereof (1971), the Biological weapons convention (1972) and the Environmental Modification Convention (1977).
Formally, the Conference on Disarmament remains independent from the United Nations, as it is neither a main body nor a subsidiary one. However, the connections with the United Nations are still numerous. The United Nations General Assembly addresses recommendations taken into account for the Conference agenda. On the other side, the Conference on Disarmament addresses each year a report to the GA and regularly communicates its documents to the UN members, in accordance with the 1978 Final Document. Finally, similarly to the UN, the Conference on Disarmament is based in Geneva and benefits from the UN Secretariat.