cdThis morning I had a “Forrest Gump” making history moment at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, where we were launching our new Banning Cluster Munitions report. Before our press conference got underway, Thomas Nash and I decided to pop upstairs to see if the notice that the Conference on Disarmament (CD) was open to ther public was true. We walked into the viewing gallery of the grand room just as the CD chair was concluding a statement outlining a possible programme of work for the CD diplomats to negotiate a new treaty on fissile materials, which would ban production of plutonium and highly-enriched uranium used to make nuclear bombs. Less than a minute after we sat down the chair asked the delegates if there was any objection to adopting the draft programme of work before them. Everyone seemed to hold their breath, but no flags were raised so he brought down the gavel and the room broke into applause. Agreeing on an agenda might not seem like a major moment, but this is the first time since 1997 that the CD has been able to agree on one. Apparently Western Group diplomats later celebrated by cracking open a bottle of whisky that had been set aside more than a decade ago forwhen they agreed. It’s one thing to agree to try and negotiate a new international treaty, but as we discussed later in our press conference the successful conclusion of a new treaty is certainly never easy. It’s also staggering to think about how much we’ve achieved on landmines and cluster bombs over the past decade in the absence of ANY action by the CD, which is supposed to be the preeminent diplomatic disarmament venue. I quietly took some of the only photos of this historic moment – wish it looked better, but here it is. More are available online here