29 July 2011
General Assembly

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fifth General Assembly


117th Meeting (AM)

General Assembly Wraps Up Meeting on Revitalizing Conference on Disarmament


The Assembly concluded its debate on follow-up to the high-level meeting held on 24 September 2010:  Revitalizing the work of the Conference on Disarmament and taking forward multilateral disarmament negotiations.


The General Assembly met this morning to conclude its High-level Meeting on "Revitalizing the Conference on Disarmament and taking forward multilateral disarmament negotiations".

Statements on Conference on Disarmament

MIGUEL CAMILO RUIZ ( Colombia) stressed the need to move forward in the pursuit of complete nuclear disarmament. It was important that negotiations on nuclear issues be undertaken in the framework of United Nations bodies and conferences; however, Colombia shared the widespread frustration over the Conference's paralysis. What was needed was "flexibility to yield on national positions" so that we can "all win", he stressed. Despite Colombia's endeavours during its presidency of the Conference on Disarmament, between 30 May and 24 June, disorder was still the "order of the day". There was no reason justifying that paralysis, he stressed.

He said it was important to note that the Conference on Disarmament's programme of work was "merely a tool" designed to facilitate the body's activities; deciding on a programme of work did not guarantee that the Conference would be able to move forward, as its 2009 session had demonstrated. Colombia, therefore, promoted the idea of the adoption of a simplified work programme, which did not contain mandates. The next logical step for the Conference was the negotiation of a fissile material cut-off treaty, with the concept of stocks as part and parcel of that process. He also listed several suggestions, aired by various Conference members, that Colombia considered both feasible and useful. Those included appointing a special coordinator to study the efficiency and methods of the Conference; streamlining the body's meetings, and holding plenary sessions only when necessary; rationalizing the Conference's expenses; exploring the possibility of expanding its membership; and considering revitalizing the disarmament machinery in the context of the General Assembly, with the possibility of studying other courses of action.

MANUEL KORČEK (Slovakia) associated his statement with that made by the representative of the European Union and by the representative of the Netherlands on behalf of the cross-regional group. In his national capacity, he said "we share the frustration and dissatisfaction of many delegations" on the body's lack of action. The Conference on Disarmament was the single negotiating forum on multilateral disarmament negotiations, and what was needed was to "resuscitate and revitalize its potential". However, if that was not possible, it would be necessary to seek other methods to move forward. The central issue to address was how the Conference could regain its function and confirm its potential in meeting the expectations of the international community; that responsibility lay primarily with its members. Slovakia considered a fissile material ban to be an "indispensable step" in accomplishing a world free of nuclear weapons. But he warned against "binding ourselves with a single approach" that did not allow for any flexibility, saying that a work programme as a "tailored uniform worn at every occasion" might not help the Conference to move towards nuclear disarmament.

JIM MCLAY (New Zealand), associating himself with the statement made by the Netherlands and underlining his country's long commitment to global nuclear disarmament through a multilateral process, said, "It is unsustainable for us to continue portraying the CD as the primary multilateral negotiating forum on disarmament", given its failures of the past 15 years. Something fundamental must change. He welcomed efforts of the past year to revitalize the body and signalled he would welcome a decision to proceed with a balanced and meaningful programme of work agreed within existing structures and procedures, although it was a mistake to tie work "in procedural knots" by treating that programme as if it set an overriding mandate for the Conference's work. It did not, and pretending otherwise helped keep the stalemate in place.

In the absence of even the prospect of progress, he said, it was unavoidable to ask whether more flexible working methods and rules might not serve better. "If a way through the current deadlock cannot be found and agreement cannot be reached on more practical working methods, we are also duty-bound to begin serious discussions about alternative avenues for advancing priority disarmament objectives," he said. There was frustration and even an element of desperation in his delegation's attitude towards the situation. His country retained an open mind on the way forward, but the conversation must begin now, and in earnest. The next six months could prove decisive. He pledged to join any and all delegations in charting a way out of the impasse.

JAKKRIT SRIVALI (Thailand), associating himself with the statements made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Informal Group of Observer States to the Conference on Disarmament, said that this meeting must send a clear and strong message to the Conference that the stagnation must not be allowed to continue. Members should work towards the commencement of substantive work on the core issues, which he said were still relevant to the international security landscape. At the same time, the Conference should intensify its efforts to address the concerns of all of its members equally. His country wished to engage more in that work. Affirming that disarmament involved the security of all countries, he maintained that all should have the right to participate in the discussions and negotiation process on an equal basis. He, therefore, reiterated the call to address the issue of expansion, in a way that did not distract from the Conference's substantive work.

OLIVIER MAES ( Luxembourg) said Luxembourg had consistently supported all efforts aimed at reducing nuclear weapons proliferation. Despite the success of the Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), adoption of Security Council resolution 1887 (2009), and the launch of the new START — Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty — in Washington, there had been no progress in the Conference on Disarmament. It was necessary to regain that impetus and ensure that words were followed by concrete action in order to end the decade-long deadlock. All of those serious about progress in disarmament could no longer accept the absence of substantive negotiations in the Conference. From now on, every State must illustrate responsibility in international security. The first priority was to immediately start negotiations on a fissile material treaty. As the Secretary-General had pointed out, there already was broad agreement on that point. He also had called for strengthening civil society's involvement in the Conference. Adjusting the rules of procedure would help improve its operations.

DANIJELA ČUBRILO (Serbia) said productive multilateralism in the areas of arms control and non-proliferation and disarmament was necessary. The international community could achieve that through cooperation, compromise, flexibility and strategic foresight. Political will must be translated into concrete action. The Conference on Disarmament must be made more efficient and effective. Member States must engage seriously and without delay in substantive discussions on core issues on the Conference's agenda. Expanding the Conference's membership was necessary to revitalizing its work. That was particularly important for Serbia, which had repeatedly expressed interest in becoming a member.

ABIODUN RICHARDS ADEJOLA (Nigeria), aligning himself with the statement made by the delegate of Egypt on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and with the delegate of the Netherlands, said that the convening of today's meeting demonstrated a collective resolve to realize the vision of a world without nuclear weapons. The "moral watershed" was the need to demonstrate the dangers which the current failure to act today portended for tomorrow. There was a need, therefore, to seize both the momentum and the opportunity presented by this meeting to reaffirm the commitment to the ethos of multilateralism. However, he recalled painfully the inability, in 2011, of the three working groups of the Disarmament Commission to produce concrete recommendations or reach a landmark consensus on the issues at hand. Those failures constituted a "clear reminder of the enormous challenges". Nigeria called on nuclear-weapon States to consider, as a top priority, the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals, in accordance with relevant legal obligations. "Our effort to overcome this crisis is losing precious time," he stressed, adding that Nigeria remained supportive of the Conference on Disarmament as the sole multilateral negotiating body on disarmament.

MOHAMMED LOULICHKI (Morocco), also joining with the statement of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the creation of a nuclear weapon-free world must be accomplished through the United Nations framework. He agreed that it was imperative to unblock the current stalemate, adding that it was "frustrating and counter-productive to bring back, each time, the same discussions" in the Conference on Disarmament. Many ideas had been presented over the years, and those should be considered. Turning to the consensus rule, he said that such a requirement had been created to ensure that each State could contribute effectively to the Conference's decision-making; however, it had not been designed to allow for impasses, such as the current one. States must give proof of flexibility to move forward, he stressed.

Adopting a stance that would take national and regional security into account was critical for the Conference, but prudence should be exercised when considering the temptation to launch negotiations outside it, he said. Such a decision would be fraught, as they might not be recognized by several States. Nuclear-weapon States had a particular responsibility in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, involving long-term confidence-building efforts; a fissile material cut-off treaty and agreement on negative security assurances would go a long way towards building confidence. Additionally, technical cooperation must be undertaken for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and its funding should no longer be voluntary. It was also crucial to ensure the success of a conference in 2012 on the Middle East.

DIEGO MOREJÓN (Ecuador) said the spirit of inclusion and multilateralism must guide Member States in their effort to break the deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament. He asked why there was political will for some aspects of the Conference's work programme, but not for others. He stressed the need to negotiate a fissile material cut-off treaty, which was as important as a convention on nuclear weapons or negative security assurances. The processes of nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation were interlinked, but it appeared that the Conference was only concerned with making progress on nuclear proliferation, relegating or sidelining any opportunity to advance nuclear disarmament. Efforts must be redirected to bring the parties closer together in that regard. It was necessary to have a convention on nuclear weapons, negative security assurances, prevention of an arms race in outer space, and a fissile material ban, addressing both present and future stockpiles. It was appropriate and necessary to hold a fourth special session on disarmament in the Assembly.

SIMONA MIRELA MICULESCU (Romania) said that efforts must be summoned to ensure that the Conference on Disarmament met the international community's expectations. She strongly supported the Conference as a major framework for nuclear issues, and stressed that its negotiating role must be preserved and reinforced. The long-term deadlock that had posed serious problems must end; it should not be impossible to at least agree on a programme of work. It was in nobody's interest that States, frustrated by the current deadlock, turn to the outside for other ways and means to negotiate international disarmament agreements. There were not too many options at present; the working methods of the Conference must be examined, including its procedures and operational principles. Romania was committed to seriously engaging in the Conference's work to build upon its May 2009 programme. As for the crucial need to negotiate a fissile ban treaty, the security concerns of all must be addressed in those negotiations.

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For information media • not an official record

Original Source: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2011/ga11126.doc.htm