United Nations Disarmament Commission

The UN General Assembly, by its resolution 502 (VI) of January 1952, created the United Nations Disarmament Commission under the Security Council with a general mandate on disarmament questions. However, it met only occasionally after 1959.

In June 1978, the General Assembly convened the First Special Session on Disarmament (SSOD I). The final document outlined a consensus disarmament agenda, as yet unfulfilled. It is well worth reading. SSOD I established a successor Disarmament Commission (UNDC) as a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly, composed of all member states of the United Nations. The UNDC was created as a deliberative body, with the function of considering and making recommendations on various problems in the field of disarmament and of following up on the relevant decisions and recommendations of the special session.

The UNDC, which meets for three weeks every April, operates in plenary meetings and working groups, the number of working groups depending on the number of substantive items on its agenda. The five geographical groups take turns assuming the chairmanship of the UNDC, while the chairs of the working groups are selected in accordance with the principle of equitable geographical distribution The UNDC is serviced substantively by the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs and technically by the Department of General Assembly Affairs and Conference Services.

It reports annually to the General Assembly. In the light of its function, the UNDC focuses on a limited number of agenda items at each session. In 1989, to allow for in-depth consideration, it decided that its substantive agenda should be limited to a maximum of four items. From 1993, it has, in practice, dealt with two or three items, each of which has usually been considered for three consecutive years. In 1998, by its decision 52/492, the General Assembly decided that the UNDC's agenda, as of 2000, would normally comprise two substantive items. For the last decade, the UNDC has failed to adopt recommendations at the end of each three year cycle.

Key documents produced by the UNDC:


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