|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
2007 Substantive Session
281st & 282nd Meetings (AM)
DISARMAMENT COMMISSION CONCLUDES THREE-WEEK SESSION
The Disarmament Commission concluded its three-week session today by adopting its draft report, as well as those of two subsidiary bodies, working respectively on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons.
Prior to adopting the three reports, the Commission heard Jean-Francis Régis Zinsou ( Benin), Chairman of working group I, introduce that body’s report, entitled “Recommendations for achieving the objective of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons”. Delegations had used their right to amend the document to the extent that the report had almost doubled in size, thus moving the working group further away from the consensus that had been the objective of the whole exercise, he said.
Amid disagreement and reservations, some delegations had hoped to avoid a debate filled with contradictions that could jeopardize potential agreement in the next few weeks, he added. They had requested a brief document focused on a few critical issues. The resulting report contained 10 fundamental principles for the implementation of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. All members of the working group were urged to use the period between the present and next sessions to eliminate any differences that might keep the Commission from achieving its immediate goal, the three pillars of which were nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and the inalienable right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
Introducing the report of working group II, entitled “Practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons”, that body’s Chairman, Carlos Duarte ( Brazil), said it had based its work on the Commission Chairman’s non-paper. The working group had addressed specific issues that had led to acceptable formulations, free of controversial text. New paragraphs proposed for Section 1 required in-depth discussion. Sections 4 (existing practical confidence-building measures) and 5 (the way ahead) contained most of the remaining controversial text and would benefit from redrafting, which would make the whole document more focused.
Although progress had been achieved, much work remained, he said. Hopefully, the Commission’s next session could continue on the basis of revision 5. Determined efforts would be needed to reach general agreement, which would, in turn, require delegations to concentrate on the specific areas of the document where the text could be improved. Moreover, delegations would need to consider formulas aimed at reaching general agreement, make available all new substantive proposals at the beginning of the session, show flexibility to explore compromise solutions and display the political will to adopt them.
Introducing the Commission’s draft report, Rapporteur Bassam Darwish ( Syria) said it was a factual description of the Commission’s work, the substantive part of which comprised the two working group reports just adopted. That part was a reflection of compromises and agreements reached through delicate negotiations carried out in the spirit of constructive cooperation. The two working group reports, although not perfect and fully satisfactory to everybody, would serve as a good basis for further discussions.
He said the Commission, with its deliberative mandate, allowed practical and action-oriented considerations, as well as conceptual approaches to disarmament and non-proliferation that were free of negotiating pressure. All the working papers, conference room papers, oral and written comments adopted by working group I had been forwarded to the Commission’s 2008 session.
Turning to practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons, he said that, building on positive elements achieved during previous years, the Chairman of working group II had successfully taken participating delegations down the path of steady progress that would, hopefully, be continued next year. The degree of convergence of different positions and approaches on that difficult issue, and the flexibility shown by delegations, left the Commission with the hope that agreement was still possible in the future.
Following the Commission’s adoption of the three reports, Chairman Elbio Rosselli ( Uruguay), said that, on 29 April, the States parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention) would mark the tenth anniversary of its entry into force. To commemorate the anniversary, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands would unveil a permanent memorial dedicated to all victims of chemical weapons in a ceremony to be held in The Hague on 9 May. That memorial would remind the world of the countless people killed and wounded due to the use of chemical weapons throughout history. It would also serve as an important symbol of the shared duty to ensure that future generations would never experience the horror of such weapons.
Noting that the Convention had been the first disarmament agreement negotiated within a multilateral framework, he said it provided for the elimination of an entire category of weapons of mass destruction under universally applied international control. To date, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons had conducted more than 2,800 inspections to ensure the total destruction of stockpiled weapons and to ensure the non-proliferation of chemical weapons or their precursors.
In a concluding statement, the representative of the Russian Federation cited recent remarks by President Vladimir Putin, saying they had a direct impact on the Commission’s work. The logic of the Treaty on the Conventional Use of Armed Forces in Europe, designed in the 1990s to balance two major forces in Europe, had been violated. Regarding the question of a moratorium on that Treaty, the Russian Federation hoped its partners would come to the necessary conclusions, so that such issues would not have to be discussed next year. Unfortunately, similar situations were also arising with respect to other strategic agreements, including the system for anti-ballistic missile defence. The decision to deploy in a certain European region could lead to the emergence of strategic armed forces, which would impact prospects for nuclear disarmament, he said. The Russian Federation noted also the destruction of Second World War monuments in Estonia, a sign that a genuine “war on monuments” had been declared. There had been victims in that situation, and the Russian delegation hoped that those negative aspects would be eliminated and that the Commission would continue its work in a constructive atmosphere next year.
Cuba’s representative expressed regret over the fact that more headway had not been made on drafting concrete recommendations for progress on nuclear disarmament. Not all States had shown the necessary political will to achieve real progress, and nuclear disarmament would continue to be the Cuban delegation’s most urgent priority in area of disarmament and it would not be satisfied with documents that did not contain recommendations concerning that issue. On the other hand, working group II had created the necessary conditions to facilitate the adoption of a consensus document next year.
The Commission also heard concluding remarks by the representatives of the Republic of Korea, Indonesia (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Egypt, Germany (on behalf of the European Union), India and Dominican Republic.
In an earlier meeting of its Committee of the Whole, the Commission heard a statement in which the representative Saudi Arabia said his country had submitted its report during the preparatory meeting held in Geneva, concerning the priority of establishing a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East. Security could not be achieved through the possession of weapons of mass destruction, and Israel’s possession of them was a major obstacle to the achievement of regional stability. That country’s claims regarding its development of such weapons clearly contradicted its claims regarding regional peace.
Saudi Arabia had demonstrated its readiness to achieve peace, he said, noting that it had signed the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism and was following developments after the adoption of Security Council resolutions 1737 (2006) and 1747 (2007), regarding Iran’s nuclear programme. While it was important to encourage Iran to continue its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the rights of States to the peaceful use of nuclear energy should not be denied. In a similar vein, Saudi Arabia welcomed the positive developments achieved during the meetings of the six-member Committee regarding the nuclear programme of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Global stability could not be achieved through the efforts by some States to possess weapons of mass destruction, and the elimination of nuclear weapons represented the only guarantee against their use.
Also contributing to the discussion of the Committee of the Whole were the representatives of Albania, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Cuba, Egypt, Germany, India, Italy, Indonesia, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan and Russian Federation.
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