CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT HEARS STATEMENTS STRONGLY CONDEMNING TERRORIST ATTACKS ON UNITED STATES

17 September 2001
DC/2806

CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT HEARS STATEMENTS STRONGLY CONDEMNING TERRORIST ATTACKS ON UNITED STATES

17/09/2001
Press Release
DC/2806


Round-up


CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT HEARS STATEMENTS STRONGLY CONDEMNING


TERRORIST ATTACKS ON UNITED STATES


Adopts Annual Report and Concludes 2001 Session


(Reissued as received.)


GENEVA, 13 September (UN Information Service) -- The Conference on Disarmament this morning adopted its annual report and concluded its 2001 session after hearing statements strongly condemning the terrorist attacks which were carried out on Tuesday, 11 September 2001 against the United States of America.


The President of the Conference, Roberto Betancourt Ruales of Ecuador, said that these terrorist attacks which had caused the death of thousands of persons as well as substantial material losses should be strongly condemned by the Conference.  He associated himself with the statement made by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in which he said that "no just cause can be advanced by terror".  On behalf of the Conference on Disarmament, he extended his sincere condolences to the people and Government of the United States.


After observing a minute of silence, the Conference heard Vladimir Petrovsky, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General, read out the statement made by the Secretary-General following the terrorist attacks and Mr. Annan's comments to the Security Council on Wednesday, 12 September in which he condemned the attacks.  Mr. Petrovsky also condemned the perpetrators of this barbaric act.


Chile, on behalf of the Rio Group; Belgium on behalf of the European Union and associated countries; Australia, on behalf of New Zealand; Canada; Egypt; Argentina; Norway; Hungary; the Republic of Korea; Pakistan; Nigeria; the Czech Republic; Georgia; the Russian Federation; Japan; Switzerland; China; Turkey; India; South Africa; Slovenia; Poland; Romania; Germany and Brazil delivered statements condemning the attacks on the United States.  Speakers stressed the importance of fostering international cooperation against terrorism and assured the Government of the United States that their countries would do everything possible to help find the perpetrators of these attacks. 


The United States thanked all the speakers for the expressions of support and condolences.  The Representative said these terrorist acts would be dealt with as they deserved.  As others who attacked the United States in the past had found out to their regret, those who carried out these acts would find that they had roused a sleeping giant. 


In his closing statement, the President of the Conference noted that the Conference was today concluding its third consecutive year of meetings without reaching agreement on a programme of work and, therefore, without being able to launch multilateral negotiations on substantive matters, or to establish subsidiary bodies.  This situation was the cause of great concern to all delegations, in view of the ever-increasing likelihood that the credibility and the very structure of this sole forum for multilateral disarmament negotiations would be eroded.  He had also taken note of the conviction of delegations that the Conference had proved incapable of commencing negotiations for reasons to be sought not only within or outside the organization itself but also contingent on political and structural issues.  While all the members of the Conference on Disarmament clearly aspired to the attainment of peace and to share the goals of collective security, these goals were being moved further away from the international community by disturbing phenomena in the strategic panorama and by the escalation of violence and terror, which had reached an unprecedented level.


Ambassador Betancourt Ruales paid tribute to the work of three Ambassadors who were departing Geneva -- Gunther Seibert of Germany; Robert Grey of the United States; and Celso Amorim of Brazil.


Several speakers expressed their regret concerning the state of paralysis in the Conference.  Among others, Belgium, on behalf of the European Union and associated countries, said that the Union reaffirmed its faith in multilateralism and repeated that it considered that the Conference was the sole multilateral forum available to the international community for negotiations on disarmament issues.  The continuing paralysis helped to weaken the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime, Belgium said.  The United States said that if the Conference did not move collectively to grasp the work programme proposals proposed by Ambassador Celso Amorim soon, the Conference would become even more irrelevant in the future than it had been for the last four years and the business of disarmament would shift to other venues.  Institutions that did not, could not or simply would not work ended up being discarded, the United States representative said.


Germany said that the Conference had not outlived its days and it remained indispensable, but it could not afford to act as a relic of a long bygone world and it must tackle the challenges of the twenty-first century.  And Brazil said that the recommendation that the three Special Coordinators be reappointed at the beginning of the 2002 annual session could impact positively on the work of the Conference, but it should not divert attention from the main objective which was to find a solution for the deadlock in the Conference and to allow it to play its role in the global process of disarmament.  Brazil agreed that not only nuclear weapons posed a threat to peace -- the tragic events in the United States was proof to the contrary.  But it was firmly convinced that as long as there were nuclear weapons, true international security and stability would remain elusive.


Concerning the Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, Belgium said that as co-sponsor of the Third Meeting of State Parties to the Convention, it supported the decision of the Government of Nicaragua to go ahead with the Meeting which was scheduled to be held in Managua from 18 to 21 September.  Even if everyone was shocked at the tragic terrorist attacks on the United States, they should not stop the world from prohibiting anti-personnel mines which continued to kill scores every year, the Representative of Belgium said.  The Representative of Romania also spoke about measures her country had taken in compliance with the provisions of the Ottawa Convention.


The first plenary of the 2002 session of the Conference on Disarmament will take place at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 22 January 2002.  The following countries will assume the rotating Presidency of the Conference next year: Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany and Hungary.


2001 Session of the Conference on Disarmament


As the world's sole multilateral forum for disarmament negotiations, the Conference on Disarmament had decided to examine at its 2001 session the following questions: nuclear disarmament and cessation of the nuclear arms race; prevention of nuclear war; prevention of an arms race in outer space; effective international arrangements for guaranteeing non-nuclear-arms States against the use or the threat of such weapons; transparency in armaments; new types and systems of weapons of mass destruction; radiological weapons; a global programme of disarmament; and consideration and adoption of the annual report and any other report, as appropriate, to the General Assembly.


This was the third year during which the work of the Conference was stalemated because of the inability of its Member States to agree on a programme of work.  Despite a number of draft proposals by the rotating Presidents of the Conference, disagreement remained on the agenda items on nuclear disarmament and prevention of an arms race in outer space.


Vladimir Petrovsky, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament and Personal Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, read out a statement from Kofi Annan at the opening session in which he urged the Conference to take firm and concerted action to overcome its inability to reach consensus on a comprehensive programme of work.  The first task before the Conference was to overcome the disturbing lack of political will that prevented its Member States from making full use of the resources available to it last year, the statement by the Secretary-General said. 


On 14 June, the Conference decided to appoint three Special Coordinators on the review of the agenda, expansion of membership and improved and effective functioning.  The three Special Coordinators presented reports to the Conference in which they noted that despite their consultations, there was no consensus on taking concrete decisions concerning any of the issues.


During the general debate, speakers repeatedly addressed the United States missile defense plans and the need to preserve the Anti-Ballistic Missiles Treaty.  Some speakers stressed the need to start negotiations on a legal instrument to prevent an arms race in outer space, while others noted the need for the Conference to start negotiations on a treaty to ban the production of fissile materials used to make nuclear weapons.  The issue of anti-personnel mines was also addressed by many speakers who listed national measures taken in compliance with the Ottawa Convention.


The Conference on Disarmament was addressed during its 2001 session by Inam Ul Haque, Foreign Secretary of Pakistan; Igor Ivanov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation; Miguel Aguirre de Carcer, the Director-General for Security and Disarmament at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Spain; and Luvsangin Erdenechuluun; Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mongolia.


In its annual report which will be presented to the General Assembly, the Conference on Disarmament requested the current President and incoming President to conduct appropriate consultations during the intersessional period and to make recommendations if possible that could help to commence early work on various agenda items, recognizing the support of the Conference for CD/1624 as a basis for further intensified consultations.  The Conference also took note of the reports of the Special Coordinators.  While agreeing that priority should be given to pursue substantive work, the Conference recommended that Special Coordinators on the review of the agenda, expansion of membership and improved and effective functioning be re-appointed as early as possible in the 2002 session.


This year, the Presidency of the Conference was as always rotated for four week periods according to the English alphabet.  The Presidency was held by Ambassador Christopher Westdal of Canada; Ambassador Juan Enrique Vega of Chile; Ambassador Hu Xiaodi of China; Ambassador Camilo Reyes Rodriguez of Colombia; Ambassador Carlos Amat Fores of Cuba and Ambassador Roberto Betancourt Ruales of Ecuador.


The Conference fixed the following dates for its 2002 session which will be held as usual in three parts: from 21 January to 29 March; from 13 May to 28 June; and from 29 July to 13 September.


Statements


LESLIE LUCK (Australia), on behalf of New Zealand, said that the tragedies of the past two days in the United States had underscored the opportunities that the Conference on Disarmament had missed, expressly by not adopting the Amorim proposal (CD/1624).  Those who had stood against it must be thinking now about their objections.  It would be unconscionable now for the Conference not to return in January and adopt as soon as possible the Amorim proposal.


SEIICHIRO NOBORU (Japan) said that the Conference must start work on its programme of action as this was the best way to pay respects to the victims of the attacks in the United States.  The role and responsibility of all attending the Conference on Disarmament had become more important as the world faced common challenges affecting all human beings.


CHRISTIAN FAESSLER (Switzerland) said that the tragedies in the United States had shown the need to look at security in the world in a different way.  He hoped that the Conference on Disarmament could be inspired by these events in order to draw fresh breath.  Switzerland hoped that something positive could come out of this tragedy. 


ANDA FILIP (Romania), speaking about the Ottawa Convention, congratulated the States which had ratified or accessed the Convention recently and those who had concluded the process of destruction of stockpiles of anti-personnel mines.  Romania shared the view that since entry into force of the instrument, a great deal of progress had been achieved in extending the adherence of States to the Convention, as well as in reducing the number of mines and victims around the world.  At the same time, much still remained to be done.  Romania was determined to provide a standing contribution to the Ottawa process both by domestic measures of implementation of the commitments undertaken and by active involvement in the intersession work.


Ambassador Filip said that although the Convention had only come into force in her country on May 1, 2001, the process of destruction of the Romanian Army's stockpiles of anti-personnel mines had commenced on 31 August, 2001 when the first lot of 10,000 mines were eliminated.  A detailed presentation of the composition and technical features of the 1,076,629 aggregate total number of Romanian mines had also been distributed among government officials, diplomats and military attachés accredited in Bucharest.  Moreover, destruction of the entire stockpile of anti-personnel mines in custody of the Romanian Ministry of Interior troops, 27,445 mines, had been completed on 28 August, 2001.  Romania was fully committed to implement in due time all the provisions of the Convention aimed at reducing and eliminating the suffering delivered by the plague of anti-personnel mines.


JEAN LINT (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union and countries associated with it, said that the Government of Nicaragua had decided to go ahead with the Third Meeting of State Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on their Destruction which was scheduled to be held in Managua from 18 to 21 September, mindful of travel difficulties.  As a co-organizer of the Conference, Belgium considered that even if everyone was shocked at the tragic terrorist attacks in the United States, they should not stop the world from prohibiting anti-personnel mines which continued to kill scores every year.


Ambassador Lint noted this further year of paralysis in the Conference on Disarmament which had failed to get its work underway.  He paid tribute to the Presidents who had tried to get the work started, but the European Union could only profoundly regret this situation.  The European Union considered that the Amorim proposal was a good basis for the discussions.  The European Union welcomed the appointment of the three Special Coordinators and it hoped that their work would continue.  The Union supported their reappointment next year.


The European Union attached importance to the process of enlargement of the Conference.  The Union reaffirmed its faith in multilateralism and repeated that it considered that the Conference was the sole multilateral forum available to the international community for negotiations on disarmament issues.  The continuing paralysis helped to weaken the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime.  This situation prevented the immediate launching of negotiations on a Fissile Materials Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT) related to the production of nuclear weapons, as well as consideration of nuclear disarmament and prevention of an arms race in outer space in subsidiary organs whose mandates should be functional and substantive.  Negotiations on the FMCT were key to making any fresh headway on disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation.  This had been stressed in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.  The European Union attached importance to the hope that the opening of the 2002 session would see a start of the debate and that the FMCT would be concluded, at the latest within five years.


ROBERT GREY (the United States), in a farewell statement, said he would soon be leaving public life after 41 years in the diplomatic service of his country.  In personal terms, his life in Geneva had been highly satisfying, but from a professional perspective, it had been exceedingly frustrating.  For the last three years, the Conference on disarmament had done nothing that justified its existence.  Throughout this extended agony of inactivity and decay, the Conference had been tied in knots by an adamant insistence that negotiations in an area where consensus existed, and where consensus had repeatedly been reaffirmed, must be linked to, and be held hostage to, proposals to launch negotiations in other areas where consensus did not exist and was unlikely to emerge for quite some time, if ever.  In years gone by, the international community's sole standing body for negotiating multilateral arms control agreements had actually carried out significant and useful work.  Whether it would be able to do so in the future was highly problematic. 


Ambassador Grey said he was confident that arms control agreements would continue to be negotiated somewhere.  Those countries most directly concerned could arrange to do that in other places and by other methods.  They were not obliged to choose the Conference on Disarmament.  The time had come for those who had tied the Conference to decide whether or not they wanted to be part of this process.  The United States took its responsibilities concerning the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) very seriously and would always be called upon to play a significant role in arms control negotiations.  But many other Member States did not have that assurance.  In practise, the Conference might be the only negotiating forum in which their voices would be heard.  If the Conference did not move collectively to grasp the work programme proposals proposed by Ambassador Celso Amorim soon, the Conference would become even more irrelevant in the future than it had been for the last four years and the business of disarmament would shift to other venues.  Institutions that did not, could not or simply would not work ended up being discarded.  He hoped that this would not be the fate of the Conference, but he had little grounds to be optimistic about its future.


GUNTHER SEIBERT (Germany) said in a farewell statement that it was a truism that the Conference on Disarmament could easily become hostage to problems and developments outside it.  Major regional conflicts remained unresolved and new conflicts had erupted.  Key players were pursuing diverging policies on how to enhance global security and stability in the post-Cold War era.  All this had not facilitated efforts of the Conference to engage in substantive work.  It would be naive to believe that by merely improving working methods of the Conference or updating its agenda that a breakthrough on key outstanding substantive issues could be achieved. 


Conversely, Ambassador Seibert said, it would be all too easy to blame outside events for all the deficiencies and failures of the Conference. For example, it was hardly comprehensible that its agenda was the same as it was 20 years ago at the height of the Cold War.  The working methods of the Conference as they had evolved had introduced additional rigidities to an already over-regulated Conference.  The existing group system provided cover for a few delegations which did not want to seriously address any issue except for their specific priorities.  The Conference needed more transparency and interaction between like-minded delegations both within and across group lines.


In conclusion, Ambassador Seibert said that efforts by the Conference to improve its working methods and to update its agenda must be continued with the assistance of the Special Coordinators.  He also urged the Conference members not to shy away from a debate of issues which were not yet mature for negotiation as disarmament treaties required a painstaking process of deliberation, consensus-building and negotiation.  While there were no guarantees that deliberations would produce a substantive outcome, continuing silence and stalemate were no sensible alternative as these were bound to remain sterile.  The Conference had not outlived its days and it remained indispensable, but it could not afford to act as a relic of a long bygone world and it must tackle the challenges of the twenty-first century.


CELSO AMORIM (Brazil) said in a farewell speech that the Conference was coming to the end of another annual session without a programme of work.  A deadlocked Conference for a third consecutive year was more than a bad signal. By failing to adopt its programme of work, the Conference was failing its mission to negotiate treaties in the field of global disarmament.  Also, for a great majority, it meant that States parties were not responding to calls by the 2000 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference to start negotiations on a fissile materials treaty and to establish an appropriate subsidiary body to deal with nuclear disarmament.  States parties were also postponing the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee to deal with the prevention of an arms race in outer space, an issue to which all had been ascribing great importance.  He could only commend the efforts of all the Presidents of the Conference in trying to move it back to work again in spite of all the well-known difficulties. 


Ambassador Amorim said that he felt honoured in seeing that the Conference was recommending that document CD/1624 (the Amorim proposal), a document that was drafted during the Brazilian presidency in August 2000, would remain a reference for the Conference in the search for a consensus on a programme of work.  On the other hand, the mere fact that this document remained on the table, after more than one year had elapsed, was evidence of the collective failure of the Conference.  The recommendation that the three Special Coordinators be reappointed at the beginning of the 2001 annual session could impact positively on the work of the Conference, but it should not divert attention from the main objective which was to find a solution for the deadlock in the Conference and to allow it to play its role in the global process of disarmament. 


In conclusion, Ambassador Amorim said that one of the most gratifying experiences during his tenure had been participating in the 2000 NPT Review Conference which had successfully adopted an action plan for nuclear disarmament.  Brazil attached the utmost importance to the results of the Review Conference, and at the same time it was concerned at the uncertainty regarding their implementation, the deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament being just one aspect of them.  Brazil agreed that not only nuclear weapons posed a threat to peace -- the tragic events in the United States was proof to the contrary.  But Brazil was firmly convinced that as long as there were nuclear weapons, true international security and stability would remain elusive.  The failure of other multilateral processes in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation in 2001 made everyone even more concerned with the way the multilateral system as a whole was evolving -- or rather was not evolving.  This was all the more distressing as Brazil continued to believe that multilateral cooperation was the only sure path to a stable and secure international system.


FELIX ONOCHIE IDIGBE (Nigeria) said that it was significant that the departing Ambassadors of the United States, Germany and Brazil had expressed their concern about the situation in the Conference.  The problem of the Conference did not lie with the rules of procedures or working methods, the issue was the lack of political will by the delegations.  Once this political will was exercised, the Conference would be able to continue its work.

ROBERTO BETANCOURT RUALES (Ecuador), President of the Conference, said that the Conference was today concluding its third consecutive year of meetings without reaching agreement on a programme of work and, therefore, without being able to launch multilateral negotiations on substantive matters, or to establish subsidiary bodies.  This situation was the cause of great concern to all delegations, in view of the ever-increasing likelihood that the credibility and the very structure of this sole forum for multilateral disarmament negotiations would be eroded.  He had also taken note of the conviction of delegations that the Conference had proved incapable of commencing negotiations for reasons to be sought not only within or outside the organization itself but also contingent on political and structural issues. 


Ambassador Betancourt Ruales said that to counter the pessimistic atmosphere prevailing in the Conference, he deemed it necessary to impart a sense of urgency to approval of the programme of work, since he believed that efforts must henceforth be focused at a higher political level if the Members were to endeavour to bring the Conference out of its state of paralysis.  He had also noted that many delegations had remained silent and that groups, in their turn, had continued to repeat their positions on the programme of work, which, in his estimation, had not been conducive to increasing the effective pressure applied by the non-nuclear States on certain key players.  All the members of the Conference on Disarmament clearly aspired to the attainment of peace and to share the goals of collective security.  These goals were, however, being moved further away from the international community by disturbing phenomena in the strategic panorama and by the escalation of violence and terror, which had reached an unprecedented level.


In conclusion, the President congratulated the three Special Coordinators for their outstanding work.  However, he noted that the Conference on Disarmament could not abandon its priorities relating to the strengthening of the non-proliferation regime and the negotiation of legal instruments to deal with, among other things, fissile materials and prevention of an arms race in outer space, as well as the creation of subsidiary organs to deal with such issues.


Member States of Conference


The 66 members of the Conference are Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, the Russian Federation, Senegal, Slovakia, Spain, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yugoslavia and Zimbabwe.


Representatives of the following non-Member States also participated in the 2001 work of the Conference as observers: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Brunei Darussalam, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Gabon, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Holy See, Iceland, Jordan, Latvia, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malta, Mauritius, Monaco, Nepal, , Panama, the Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovenia, Thailand, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Uruguay and Zimbabwe.

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For information media. Not an official record.