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UNODA Occasional Papers No.29: Bringing Democracy to Disarmament - A Historical Perspective on the Special Sessions of the General Assembly Devoted to Disarmament, October 2016

image of UNODA Occasional Papers No.29: Bringing Democracy to Disarmament - A Historical Perspective on the Special Sessions of the General Assembly Devoted to Disarmament, October 2016
The United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) Occasional Papers is a series of ad hoc publications presenting, in edited form, papers or statements made at meetings, symposiums, seminars, workshops or lectures that deal with topical issues in the field of arms limitation, disarmament and international security. They are intended primarily for those concerned with these matters in Government, civil society and in the academic community. This paper provides historical background on the special sessions of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament (1978, 1982 and 1988) and discusses efforts to convene a fourth special session. The Assembly has used these sessions to enable Member States to participate in the process of developing or strengthening global norms in disarmament. Complementing work done elsewhere in the multilateral disarmament machinery, the sessions enable consideration of how the various parts of the disarmament puzzle fit together in a coherent whole.

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Introduction

As of 2016, the General Assembly has met in 29 special sessions, with the tenth, twelfth and fifteenth devoted exclusively to disarmament. This paper provides some historical background on these particular special sessions (known by their familiar acronyms, SSOD I, SSOD II and SSOD III) and also discusses efforts to convene an SSOD IV. Emerging from this history is how the General Assembly—the closest entity to a universal democratic political arena in the United Nations system—has used these special sessions to enable all Member States to participate in the process of developing or strengthening global norms in disarmament. While these special sessions complement work done elsewhere in the multilateral disarmament machinery, their “value added” is in the comprehensive scope of their deliberations— they enable consideration of how the various parts of the disarmament puzzle fit together in a coherent whole.

English

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