This text is from the preface, written by Jayantha Dhanapala, Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament, for Beyond Missile Defense, a report authored by Andrew Lichterman (Western States Legal Foundation), Zia Mian (Princeton University), M. V. Ramana (Princeton University), and Jürgen Scheffran (INESAP, Technical University Darmstadt) in October 2002.

On 15 April 1999, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued a statement drawing the world’s attention to the lack of binding multilateral norms concerning missiles. Although the Preamble of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) includes the goal of eliminating delivery vehicles for nuclear weapons, the world has been lamentably slow in fulfilling this promise. This applies not just to missiles per se, but also to their development, production, stockpiling, export, and proliferation — as well as to missile defenses.

So when, on 20 November 2000, the General Assembly adopted a resolution on Missiles, the world community took notice. The resolution asked the Secretary-General to prepare a report with the assistance of a panel of governmental experts on the subject of missiles in all its aspects. In July 2002, the Secretary-General transmitted the report to the General Assembly, an act that itself marked a step forward in the norm-building process, since it was somewhat extraordinary that a group of governmental experts from diverse countries could reach a consensus on such a sensitive subject.

While very thin on recommendations, the report concluded that — missiles are posing “serious concerns” for international peace and security; these issues cannot be effectively addressed without due regard to their regional and global dimensions; “there exists at present no universally accepted norms or instruments” dealing with missiles; many approaches to the subject are being undertaken both within and outside the United Nations; and that many more such international efforts will be needed.

Current Status and Debate
Text from from a report by Michael Spies, Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy, in the First Committee Monitor 2007.

The Third Panel of Governmental Experts on Missiles, established by UNGA resolution 59/67 (2004), met for its first session in June 2007. Whereas the first panel, established by UNGA resolution 55/33 A (2000), was able to adopt a comprehensive factual report—though falling well short of drawing any actionable conclusions, much less recommendations—this third attempt follows the failure of the second panel to even adopt a final report, intended at the outset merely “to explore further the issue of missiles in all its aspects.” The mandate of the present Panel of Experts is “to explore further ways and means to address within the United Nations the issue of missiles in all its aspects, including identifying areas where consensus can be reached,” and to submit a report, expected to be completed by June 2008, to the sixty-third session of the General Assembly.

Statements made during the 2007 General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security reflect continuing divergence on priority and method [of dealing with missiles], with little interest or will in bridging the gap. Nor are there any signs of a multilateral missile treaty emerging anytime soon, as was pointed out by High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Sergio Duarte. The European Union approached missiles only as “WMD delivery systems”, and continued “to promote the universal ratification of, and adherence to … the Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation.” Again repeating its contrary view, the Association of South East Asian Nations, in a statement delivered by Myanmar, cited “an urgent need for a comprehensive approach towards missiles proliferation,” and called for “multilaterally negotiated, universal, comprehensive and non-discriminatory” agreements. This view is similar to the approach taken in the preamble of resolution 61/59, from which most European and NATO states abstained, in part due to the resolution's lack of reference to the Hague Code of Conduct.

The delegation of Iran expressed pleasure that the third Panel of Government Experts on missiles seemed to have a “very constructive and serious discussion” during its first substantive session. In light of the fact that the panel will have two additional sessions in 2008, the Iranians announced they would introduce a draft decision on the issue of missiles instead of a substantive resolution “as suggested by the 2005 recommendations of the Committee on ‘methods of work.’”

In his general statement to the First Committee, Ambassador Khan of Pakistan described the proliferation and development of missiles and anti-ballistic missile systems as an emerging threat to international stability, and stated it should be dealt with in an international agreement as part of what he described as a proposed “new disarmament architecture”. Referring to existing export regimes as discriminatory, Ambassador Khan stated they would never work because they would not constrain states determined to develop a ballistic missile capability. He also called for a multilateral treaty to prohibit deployment of ballistic missile defense systems, which he described as “inherently destabilizing both at the strategic and the regional levels,” and for an accompanying agreement for limitations on other kinds of missile systems. Ambassador Khan further advocated for the Conference on Disarmament to take up the issue of anti-ballistic missiles as a priority item and to consider discussions of missiles.

Also chiming in on the subject of ballistic missile defense, Ambassador Pak Gil Yon of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea took the floor during the General Debate to denounce the deployment of US missile defense systems. US State Department representative Jeffrey Eberhardt, in a panel discussion on nuclear disarmament, took a contrary approach, suggesting that the deployment of ballistic missile defenses could actually facilitate nuclear disarmament by assisting in creation of a "new security environment".