Journey to Activating the Fourth UN Special Session on Disarmament
Consultant, SCRAP Weapons
The first time I recall hearing about the UN mechanism of Special Sessions on Disarmament (SSOD) was in the early spring of 2022. It came at a time when SCRAP Weapons’ efforts to further our call for General and Complete Disarmament (GCD), through our Framework for a Treaty on GCD, were providing little results. Despite receiving positive feedback from states over the years, requests for a country to present our Framework were, yet again, faced with silence. Therefore, when Professor Plesch suggested pursuing the activation of an SSOD, I approached it with scepticism.
Having joined SCRAP Weapons as a student volunteer in 2019 and then returning as a consultant two years later, seeing that the organisation’s goals had not progressed reaffirmed in my mind that although a necessary goal, GCD would not be realised in this lifetime. General and Complete Disarmament to me makes sense. With over $2 trillion being committed to military spending whilst the effects of Covid are still being felt, and whilst poverty and famine ravage entire populations, it is the answer to bringing an end to much global suffering, ensuring a better and safer world for future generations, and also strengthening national and international security. However, such change can only be accepted when the world, and its decision makers, are ready for it. We may only explain and campaign in the hopes of having some positive influence. Thus, in my eyes, switching the team’s focus to activating the Fourth Special Session on Disarmament (SSODIV) was just the newest tactic in our uphill battle for progressive change.
Nevertheless, the first moment of hope came with the First Committee meeting of the 77th Session of the General Assembly, where Brazil called on states to initiate a process of informal consultations on the convening of the Preparatory Committee of the Fourth Special Session on Disarmament by the 78th Session of the General Assembly. We finally had the explicit support of a state! This was accompanied by multiple meetings with Ambassador Flavio Damico, Special Representative of Brazil to the Conference on Disarmament, a trip to Geneva to meet with states, a visit from Minister Marcelo Câmara, the Director of the Department of Defence of Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and, most importantly, a prolonged campaign to ensure the inclusion of SSODIV in the New Agenda for Peace- a campaign which has become SCRAP Weapons’ latest success.
As somebody just starting out in their career, I have never doubted the importance of my work but, although I felt it would have some impact, I did not believe I would be able to contribute to something so momentous. In meetings we would hear from Dan, Henrietta and Martin about their work following the Cold War and their achievements in founding organisations, being part of conversations which led to agreements and being drivers of real change. However, despite their encouragement, a part of me was resigned to accept that this was just a different time- one ready for change. Yet, with the release of the New Agenda for Peace and its consideration of an SSOD I now believe this time is also ready for such change.
Campaigning for SSODIV and its inclusion in the New Agenda for Peace has been an enjoyable experience with many firsts for me: successfully planning my first conference, attending my first ambassador meeting, my first civil society roundtable, going on my first work trip, writing my first article, and so much more- all experiences which seemed like a distant dream as a CISD student.
Consultant, SCRAP Weapons