RevCon ends with no Agreed Outcome
July 8, 2006
Late on Friday afternoon they finally gave up. Having worked until late on Wednesday night and again on Thursday night, the last ditch efforts on Friday to salvage something from the two week Conference came to nothing. Despite considerable compromise by those governments seeking a strong outcome document, there was in the end simply too little common view for a document to be agreed.
This is a huge disappointment to all those (governments, international organizations, and NGOs) who poured there hearts and souls into this meeting. And it means that the governments of the world have failed to send a strong message of their determination to save lives currently lost or damaged by the global small arms crisis.
We are left with no “next steps”. The follow-on dimensions of the draft Outcome Document were there to point to ways in which progress on implementing the Programme of Action was to be assessed in the years ahead. No new commitments have been decided upon and no new ways to bring the international community back together have been laid out.
It is probably better that there was no document than a terribly weak one, which is what it looked like we were going to be left with. The Programme of Action still stands as the benchmark upon which to build. Attention will now turn to the First Committee of the General Assembly for decisions which could not be made at the RevCon. The First Committee is not bound by the consensus “requirement” which defined work at the RevCon. Thus, there will be opportunities to move forward, even if there is no RevCon document to work from.
Despite the outcome, there is much positive to point to in the struggle to reduce the human costs of armed violence. States highlighted the steps they have taken and their hopes in their presentations to the RevCon: the struggle that went on over text no doubt showed the determination of many states to move further on this issue; the event gave an opportunity for the mobilization of public opinion on the issue, with the “million faces” of the Control Arms Campaign demonstrating greater public commitment; and NGOs were able to show-case the remarkable work which is going on—programme delivery; research; campaigning—around the many dimensions of the small arms problem. This will be able to be built upon.
But today the disappointment is deep. We had a right to expect more. This further failure shows again the deep crisis in multilateral diplomacy which is hamstringing progress on so many issues. It has claimed another victim.
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