The Permanent Mission of Finland organized a panel discussion on disarmament issues together with London University's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in Geneva on 12th of February. The Permanent Representative of Finland, Ambassador Päivi Kairamo chaired the discussion. New approaches to disarmament and SOAS students' SCRAP project (Strategic Concept for Removal of Arms and Profileration) were the main topics of the discussion.
The panel members included Acting Director-General of the United Nations Office in Geneva, Mr Michael Møller; SCRAP project leader Dr. Dan Plesch; Swiss CD Ambassador Urs Schmid; Senior Programme Advisor of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, Marc Finaud and three SOAS students. The SCRAP project was commended for creativity and drive. The project offers a negotiating text for General and Complete Disarmament, utilizing some of the existing treaties. The 17-year long deadlock of the Conference on Disarmament proves that new approaches to disarmament are most welcome.
The panelists noted a new humanitarian approach of disarmament which is also the focus at the currently on-going Mexico Conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. The use of chemical weapons in Syria highlighted the devastating effects of weapons of mass destruction. Some panelists viewed the Arms Trade Treaty, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2013, as an expression of humanitarian approach. Despite sometimes slow progress and small steps in disarmament, the Acting Director-General of the United Nations Office in Geneva Michael Møller encouraged students to stay optimistic, since changing political landscapes may always open new possibilities.