Calling Conference on Disarmament ‘Undisputed Home of International Arms Control Efforts’, Secretary-General Urges Way Out of Paralysis, at Ministerial Meeting
Calling Conference on Disarmament ‘Undisputed Home of International Arms Control Efforts’, Secretary-General Urges Way Out of Paralysis, at Ministerial Meeting
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
High-level Meeting on Revitalizing
Work of Conference on Disarmament
Calling Conference on Disarmament ‘Undisputed Home of International Arms Control
Efforts’, Secretary-General Urges Way Out of Paralysis, at Ministerial Meeting
Delegations Warn They Will Seek New Venues for Negotiating Pressing Disarmament,
Security Concerns if Geneva-based Multilateral Negotiating Body Remains Hamstrung
Unblocking the long fallow Conference on Disarmament was the subject of a ministerial meeting convened today by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who urged delegations to recall that body’s status as the “undisputed home of international arms control efforts”, which even in the complex political and security context of the cold war had managed to conclude far-reaching and forward-looking treaties.
Mr. Ban pointed to the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The Conference members, numbering 65, had been unable to reach agreement on a programme of work for 12 years. Following consensus agreement in May 2009 on a work programme after what some today called “the lost decade”, hopes were high for serious engagement in 2010 on core disarmament and global security concerns. But agreement on the year’s programme of work eluded the membership in January and the Conference found itself once again at an impasse.
“There is no good reason for stagnation,” the Secretary-General stressed. Moreover, he noted, there had been several encouraging developments in the past year, including the Security Council Summit in September 2009, the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington in April 2010 and other initiatives at both multilateral and bilateral levels. “This is hard-won momentum and we should build on recent achievements.”
“Let us move beyond business as usual. Let today’s discussion provide a basis for concrete action. We have the opportunity to create a safer world. Let us seize it,” Mr. Ban urged, before handing over the floor to the President of the General Assembly and some 80 Conference members and observers inscribed to speak.
In the discussion that followed, speaker after speaker highlighted the disappointment over the Conference’s paralysis, echoing Mr. Ban’s words of caution at the risk of a backslide in the disarmament realm. Most speakers emphasized the critical importance of acting on the fissile material cut-off treaty and many regretted that discussion on that treaty had been blocked by one member.
In that regard, the representatives of both the United States and the United Kingdom, among others today, stressed that during negotiations each country would have adequate opportunity to ensure that the fissile-ban treaty would not harm its national interests. In that light, it was unfair for one country to hold up the start of negotiations.
Other priorities underlined included progress on negative security assurances, guaranteeing that nuclear-weapon States would not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States, along with the prevention of the militarization of outer space and the creation of a road map to a world free of nuclear weapons.
In order to end the impasse, a few speakers proposed changing the Conference’s rules of procedure, which required that all decisions be made by consensus. Most speakers, however, rejected that proposal, saying that it would decrease the effectiveness of the body’s decisions.
Some speakers suggested a compromise in which substantive issues be settled by consensus, but that so-called “procedural” matters, such as the Work Programme, could be agreed upon without universal consent. Some submitted that agreement on such matters carry over from session to session, so that progress was not reversed. Many other speakers stated that the solution did not lay in changing the rules of procedure at all, but in Member States’ exercising political will.
The Foreign Minister of Belgium, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that to break the deadlock, confidence-building measures could be undertaken immediately, calling for all States with nuclear weapons to declare and uphold a moratorium on the production of weapon-grade fissile material. Many other non-nuclear-weapon States also proposed that the nuclear-weapon States take the initiative on nuclear disarmament.
Several speakers called for a comprehensive assessment of the functioning of the Conference’s entire apparatus, including institutional aspects, such as mandates and membership. Regarding the latter point, many delegates called for the Conference’s expansion, so that it represented more than one third of the United Nations membership. Some pressed for the convening of a fourth special session of the General Assembly on disarmament, and the appointment of a special coordinator or committee to discuss that and other matters.
While expressing their commitment to the revitalization of the Conference, a number of speakers said that, if it remained deadlocked, other routes to agreement on disarmament issues should be pursued.
In that vein, the Federal Minister for European and International Affairs of Austria said that unless substantive work commenced by the end of the next session of the Conference, all work of the body should be suspended. The General Assembly should then identify or establish a forum in order to proceed with the most pressing issues, including the formulation of parameters to reach “global zero” nuclear weapons, as well as the central components needed for that goal, such as the fissile material cut-off treaty.
Similarly, the Foreign Minister of Japan said that if there was no emerging prospect for launching negotiations within the Conference to ban fissile material for nuclear weapons, then Japan, together with like-minded countries, was ready to take the initiative to provide a venue for such negotiations.
In his closing remarks, the Secretary-General pledged to ask his Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters to undertake a thorough review of the issues raised at today’s meeting and, based on its recommendations, to consider further action, including the convening of a high-level panel of eminent persons.
He said he also hoped that the President of the General Assembly lent his support to proposals to follow-up today’s meeting both directly in the Assembly’s plenary and its First Committee (Disarmament and International Security). “With sustained engagement and leadership, we can bridge differences, overcome the deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament and revitalize multilateral disarmament,” he concluded.
Also speaking today at the ministerial level were the representatives of Cameroon (which presently held the rotating presidency of the Conference on Disarmament), Luxembourg, Kazakhstan, Ireland, Italy, Egypt (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Russian Federation, China, France, Sweden, Philippines, Norway, Indonesia, Brazil, Ukraine, Thailand (on behalf of the Informal Group of Observer States to the Conference on Disarmament), Serbia, Belarus, Australia, Malaysia, Poland, Greece, Bulgaria, Croatia, Algeria, Iran, Morocco, Republic of Korea, Finland, Germany, Canada, New Zealand, Bangladesh, Estonia, Cuba, Portugal, Chile, Iraq, India, Georgia, Lesotho, Slovenia, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Israel, Zambia, Uruguay, Mauritius, Colombia, Argentina, Spain, Nigeria, Switzerland, Tunisia, Mexico, Ecuador, Mongolia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Libya and United Republic of Tanzania.
The representatives of Peru, Turkey, Mongolia, and the Netherlands also made statements.
The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, and a representative of the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency of the United Nations also spoke.
A High-level Meeting on Revitalizing the Work of the Conference on Disarmament and Taking Forward Multilateral Disarmament Negotiations was convened by the Secretary-General this morning, following his invitation to Member States on 20 July to build on the important new momentum in the field of disarmament, one of the longest-held goals of the United Nations and one his priorities.
The Meeting was a unique opportunity to provide greater political impetus for revitalizing the work of the Conference on Disarmament. This single multilateral negotiating body established in 1978 has played a crucial role by negotiating some of the most important multilateral disarmament agreements. The Conference adopted a programme of work for the first time in 12 years in May 2009, but has since been unable to implement it. The High-level Meeting also aimed at promoting multilateral disarmament, including through addressing the larger challenges facing the wider architecture of disarmament machinery.
Following statements by Member States and the heads of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), and the Representative of the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Secretary-General read out the Chair’s summary, which captured the main points raised during the meeting.
BAN KI-MOON, United Nations Secretary-General, welcomed delegates and said that everyone believed that revitalizing the international disarmament machinery would have multiple benefits. Only the political will of Member States could make them come to fruition, however. In the past, the Conference on Disarmament was the most vital body in its field, but despite recent breakthroughs, it had yet to make progress.
He said there had been encouraging recent developments, however, including the Security Council Summit in September 2009, the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington in April 2010 and initiatives at both multilateral and bilateral levels, including the new Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START). The agreement reached at the 2010 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) had restored some faith in the international non-proliferation regime. “This is hard-won momentum and we should build on recent achievements.”
Important momentum had been built, and the next few years were critical, he said. “We can push forward on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament or risk sliding back,” he said, adding that the gaps could only be bridged through stronger multilateral partnerships. At the top of the list was the multilateral machinery: the Conference on Disarmament, the United Nations Disarmament Commission, and the General Assembly’s First Committee (Disarmament and International Security).
In the past, he said, the Conference on Disarmament was the “undisputed home of international arms control efforts”. It was a catalyst for promoting the rule of law on disarmament. During the cold war, it had concluded far-reaching and forward-looking treaties — the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), and the NPT. Those accomplishments showed clearly “we can make progress even in a complex political and security context.” Thus, he added, “there is no good reason for stagnation”.
Members of the Conference must accept that their privileges come with responsibilities, he said. Moving forward on multilateral disarmament negotiations required courage. “Let us move beyond business as usual. Let today’s discussion provide a basis for concrete action. We have the opportunity to create a safer world. Let us seize it.”
JOSEPH DEISS, President of the General Assembly, said that for the Organization to fulfil its role in disarmament and related issues, reinforcing and reinvigorating the United Nations disarmament machinery was essential. That could not succeed without addressing the current deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament. The Conference’s programme of work must be addressed in an integrated manner, without selectively choosing one item over another, as that would undermine the delicate political balance achieved so far. Negotiations must start as soon as possible, including for a fissile material treaty. Political support, as that being lent to the Conference today, as well as concrete proposals on its revitalization, could unfold into “real” steps towards achieving a world free of nuclear weapons. Peace and security, as well as social progress and respect for human rights were genuine goals that States had the right to pursue.
HENRI EYEBE AYISSI, Minister of External Relations of Cameroon, whose country presently held the rotating presidency of the Conference on Disarmament, said that his country took its election as Conference President as an acknowledgment of its commitment to peace. The country had been able to reach a peaceful settlement through international law in its border dispute with Nigeria. Many considered that resolution exemplary. Indeed, the values of peace and solidarity between peoples formed the bedrock of Cameroon’s foreign policy. The country confirmed its support for the objectives of the Conference, as well as its desire to continue to contribute to efforts to reach those aims.
He said his country believed that the problem of disarmament lay largely in the hands of the great Powers. There was no reason to be excessively pessimistic. The effects of the World Wars had brought those Powers to understand the negative impact of a return to the arms race; most frequently reason had prevailed. Cameroon saw a direct link between accumulation of arms, particularly weapons of mass destruction, and the risk, including accidental risk, of major conflict. That was reason to research for ways to make the Conference effective.
There was a link between disarmament objectives and development goals, he added; without the former, it was unlikely that the Millennium Development Goals would be met. A meagre portion of the resources allocated to military expenditure would have been adequate to reduce the “other weapons of mass destruction” by 2015 — hunger and disease among them. That was a reason to call for revitalization of the work of the Conference on Disarmament. Cameroon hoped that the present meeting would help to advance that goal.
JEAN ASSELBORN, Deputy Prime Minister of Luxembourg, said that to achieve the ultimate goal of a safer world and build on recent progress, he backed the Secretary-General’s five-point approach. He appealed to all Members of the Conference to support the existing programme of work in order to, firstly, seek to finalize a fissile material cut-off treaty and advance nuclear disarmament.
KANAT SAUDABAYEV, State Secretary and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, welcomed efforts to reduce the nuclear threat and hoped that Member States would show the political will to allow the Conference to make progress. He said the CTBT must be permitted to enter into force as soon as possible, and work must be done to secure binding nuclear disarmament pledges by the nuclear-weapon States, leading to development of a general programme for a nuclear-weapon-free world. Negotiating the fissile cut-off treaty was also urgent to efficiently reduce the chance of nuclear attack or nuclear terrorism.
MICHEAL MARTIN, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ireland, said that multilateral cooperation was in the interest of all, and the lack of progress in the Conference was very disappointing. The Conference certainly had more than enough work to do. He supported the earliest possible negotiation and adoption of agreements on fissile material, the outer space arms race and nuclear disarmament. Consensus requirements should be re-examined, as well as other procedural blockages. There was also a need for a fundamental review of other bodies, along with the inclusion of civil society in all those bodies. What was clear was that the status quo could not continue.
FRANCO FRATTINI, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, said that re-launching the Conference on Disarmament, negotiation on a fissile material cut-off treaty and negative security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon States were at the forefront. For many years, his country had advocated negotiation of a fissile material ban. Progress had been made on negative security assurances, with that task facilitated by the growing number of nuclear-weapon-free zones taking shape worldwide. Procedurally, the Conference’s consensus principle should not be questioned, but other flexibilities should be considered, such as automatic carry-over of programmes of work. He pledged his country’s full support to revitalizing the Conference.
MAGED ABDELFATTAH ABDELAZIZ (Egypt), speaking on behalf of Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Aboul Gheit, for the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Movement reaffirmed its support for the early convening of a fourth special session of the General Assembly on disarmament. It also favoured enhancement of the United Nations disarmament machinery. In that, it was important to retain the nature, role and power of the Conference on Disarmament. The Movement had taken note of the new arms limitation agreement signed between the United States and the Russian Federation. It stressed that the reductions contained in the agreement should be irreversible, verifiable and transparent and should be geared towards facilitating the ultimate goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. Members of the Movement who were also States parties to NPT had welcomed the treaty review’s outcome text and called for its full implementation. That review had given impetus for intensifying work towards a nuclear weapon convention.
He said the Movement’s call for progress towards the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East should not be lost. He stressed the need for nuclear-weapon States to comply with their obligations and for the Conference to focus on advancing the nuclear disarmament agenda. Pending the complete elimination of all nuclear weapons, there should be a multilateral, universal and binding agreement barring the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, with negative assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States. The Conference should appoint a special committee on the expansion of its membership. Finally, the summary of today’s meeting should reflect the views of Member States and any follow-up should be inclusive and driven by Member States.
SERGEY RYABKOV, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said that there was growing understanding today that current issues could not be resolved with the use of force and that the militarization of foreign policy and international relations was fraught with danger. Now, more attention was being given gradually to the need to agree on parity-based and controlled reduction of arms to the lowest possible levels as the basis for maintaining international stability and security. The new realities were imposing a unifying agenda on international relations since common challenges could be countered only through collective efforts in the spirit of joint responsibility. Noting proposals to revisit the rule of consensus in the work of the Conference in order to increase its vitality, he said his country could not support such innovation, as consensus was the only possible method to develop multilateral disarmament agreements. Russia felt that the Conference should remain the leading international negotiating mechanism in the area of disarmament.
ZHAI JUN, Vice Foreign Minister of China, said that, as the only multilateral disarmament negotiation body, the Conference, and its authority, could not be replaced. Its rules of procedure, with the consensus principle at its core, must be upheld, and the legitimate security concerns of all countries must be taken seriously. He hoped that members exhibited adequate political will to begin substantive work as soon as possible on the fissile material cut-off treaty, the prevention of an outer space arms race, and negative security assurances, among other matters.
ALISTAIR BURT, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State of the United Kingdom, said that all items on the Conference’s agenda should be discussed — and his country was indeed ready to do so. However, one country was blocking discussion on anything at all. He understood that some countries had some concern about what a fissile material cut-off treaty might mean for them, but there was plenty of opportunity to discuss all of the issues and concerns at the negotiating table, and the Conference offered protection to countries’ interests, both at the negotiating phase and in the eventual signature and ratification phase. Blocking the start of negotiations was damaging for multilateral arms control and might lead committed nations to bypass traditional institutions, in order to further their disarmament ambitions. The Conference needed to show that it was still relevant to addressing the challenges of global arms control.
GARY SAMORE, Special Assistant to the President of the United States and White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction, Proliferation, and Terrorism, said his country fully supported the Secretary-General’s efforts to awaken the Conference on Disarmament from its slumber. His country had shown support for a fissile material cut-off treaty, in part as the issue ripest for revitalizing the machinery of the Conference. Unfortunately, one country had blocked the Conference from discussing that treaty. He understood that during the negotiations each country would have to ensure that the fissile-ban treaty would not harm its national interests, but there was adequate procedural opportunity to ensure that and, in that light, it was unfair for one country to hold up progress. He fully supported the existing Conference work plan. If the items in that programme could not be negotiated within the Conference, another venue would have to be found to accomplish them.
JACQUES AUDIBERT, Director General of Political and Security Affairs of France, aligning himself with the statement to be made by the European Union, said that work towards nuclear disarmament must make progress. He shared the frustrations with the deadlock in the Conference, and appealed to those who were seeking to take advantage of that stalemate not to hold up history. He reaffirmed that his country would always be seeking to make progress towards the more stable future offered by disarmament.
CARL BILDT, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, described the consensus rule in the Conference as an absolute and immediate veto right for all Member States in all matters, substantial or procedural, big or small. When it came to protecting national security interests in treaty negotiations, there was even a “triple veto”, namely, blocking the start of negotiations, blocking the approval of any treaty text, and choosing not to ratify the adopted treaty. Sweden appealed to those blocking adoption of a work programme in the Conference to consider not exercising the “first veto” opportunity, since national security interests, which changed over time, could be protected, if needed, by the other “two vetoes”. According to him, institutional reform would facilitate letting go of the consensus rule for non-substantive decision-making. Conference members should be open to address all aspects that could help that body move forward.
ALBERTO ROMULO, Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, said that the outcome document of the NPT Review Conference, in its 64 action points, showed the way towards the goal of a more peaceful and secure world. The present high-level meeting could provide the necessary impetus for the Conference’s advancement. Philippines called for an expansion of the Conference to reflect the current United Nations membership, stating that disarmament negotiations could no longer be limited to 65 countries; other countries should be given the chance to participate. To revitalize the work of the Conference meant trying new ways of doing things. Nations needed to renew their commitment to work together.
JONAS GAHR STORE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Norway, said that the consensus principle should not be applied to procedural matters in the Conference. Also, the negotiations in the Conference should be made open to all interested States and stakeholders. Norway wondered why those negotiations were limited to only 65 members and said that the Conference should be more open to interaction with civil bodies. Regional groups had become barriers to progress in matters of disarmament because it allowed nations to hide under group cover, he went on. That was not the way to work in the modern world. The international community had a lot to learn from the processes leading to the mine ban and cluster munitions ban conventions. Those processes had been characterized by the use of ordinary men and women.
MARTY NATALEGAWA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, said that the Conference must be revitalized to forestall the possibility of world catastrophe.
Given political will, the Conference could advance negotiations towards a nuclear-weapon convention, negative security assurances, prevention of an arms race in outer space and a fissile material cut-off treaty. The Conference could build on recent positive developments. Countries must honour their commitments to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and a way must be found to make the Conference resume its original function. The rules of procedure were not obsolete. Members must exercise the political will to ensure that humankind would not one day be incinerated in a nuclear holocaust.
MICHAEL SPINDELEGGER, Federal Minister for European and International Affairs of Austria, aligning himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, said that unless substantive work commenced by the end of the next session of the Conference, all work should be suspended. The General Assembly should then identify or establish a forum in order to proceed with the most pressing issues, including a discussion on the parameters that would enable the attainment of global zero, as well as its central components, such as the fissile material cut-off treaty.
He said that the appropriate sequencing for the process to create a world free of nuclear weapons needed to be identified, as well as the best partners and institutions, to proceed in the most effective manner. Civil society should assume a paramount role in that process. To that end, he supported the establishment of a Competence Centre for Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation in Vienna, to act as a hub and a platform for independent expertise, monitoring and advocacy regarding nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
CELSO AMORIM, Minister of External Relations of Brazil, said that the Conference’s difficulties did not stem from its rules of procedure. The multilateral approach to disarmament, however, should be strengthened. The fissile material cut-off treaty, negative security assurances, prevention of an outer space arms race and the elimination of nuclear weapons must be addressed. In negotiations in those areas, there was no replacement for the Conference, and he pledged that his country would continue to work for its revitalization.
KOSTYANTYN GRYSHCHENKO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, said that, as shown by the many steps his country had taken to pursue nuclear disarmament, it was fully committed to the Conference’s objectives, and the soon-as-possible negotiation of a fissile material ban, enhanced security guarantees to non-nuclear-weapon States, preventing the militarization of outer space and other critical issues. He welcomed any compromise decisions that could help restore the Conference’s substantive work, and he called on Member States to consolidate their efforts in designing the work programme, based on document CD/1864. He proposed that Conference members refrain from reversals on programme decisions already taken by consensus, and he suggested the holding of annual high-level meetings and providing mechanisms for resolving controversial issues that paralyzed progress, by applying existing instruments of the United Nations General Assembly. He called on Member States to put aside differences and focus on the Conference’s vital role.
KASIT PIROMYA, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, speaking on behalf of the Informal Group of Observer States to the Conference on Disarmament, stressed the need for transparency and inclusiveness in the work of the that body. To enhance its effectiveness, it was essential that the negotiating process engage all stakeholders. The current Conference membership, which remained at 65, represented less than one third of the United Nations membership. That did not reflect the broad spectrum of the international community. It had been more than a decade since the last review of that membership. That issue should be seriously addressed through the appointment of a committee. The Group of Observers hoped that the Conference would take up the matter of expansion in 2011.
VUK JEREMIĆ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Serbia, said that mechanisms should be set up in order to create conditions favourable to overcoming the present stalemate. Membership expansion was a pressing issue; that was of special interest to Serbia, a successor to the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia, which had been a Conference Member. Serbia, an observer State, thus supported the appointment of a special coordinator on expanding the Conference. The peace established by the Dayton Accords was due in no small part to the Sub-Regional Arms Control Agreement signed in 1996 by Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, and Serbia. His country stood ready to inform the Conference on its mechanisms and on how it could be a model for other post-conflict regions.
SEIJI MAEHARA, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan, called for the immediate commencement of work in the Conference and the advancement of its core agenda items of nuclear disarmament, a fissile material cut-off treaty, negative security assurances and prevention of an arms race in outer space. A ban on weapon-grade nuclear material, in particular, was a practical step that would contribute to both nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. There should be immediate commencement of negotiations on such a treaty and the declaration and maintenance of a moratorium on the production of fissile material for weapon purposes, pending the treaty’s entry into force.
He called for a specific deadline to be set for discussions in the Conference. Any failure to make progress on the issue would force the exploration for alternative paths. A situation in which the interests of the entire international community were obstructed by actions based on the individual interest of just one country was not acceptable. If there was no emerging prospect for launching negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty within the Conference, then Japan, together with like-minded countries, was ready to take the initiative to provide a venue for such negotiations.
SERGEI MARTYNOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus, asked member States of the Conference to show political will and adopt the work programme, which Belarus had proposed in March in its capacity as Conference President. That work programme, provided for, among other things, negotiations for a fissile material cut-off treaty. An imbalance of State interests and different visions of national and regional security were the reasons why the Conference could not carry out negotiations. All States participating in the Conference, and particularly the permanent members of the Security Council, should seek to rectify that situation. The legal capacity of the Conference should be considered by a fourth special session of the General Assembly on disarmament, while the question of enlarging Conference membership should be addressed and solved once it resumed its substantive work.
STEVEN VANACKERE, Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Institutional Reforms of Belgium, speaking on behalf of the European Union, called the ongoing stalemate at the Conference deeply troubling. Its Member States should appreciate that starting negotiations was the beginning, rather than the end, of a process of identifying and protecting specific national security concerns. Confidence-building measures can be undertaken immediately; the European Union thus called for all States with nuclear weapons to declare and uphold a moratorium on the production of weapon-grade nuclear material. Negotiations for a fissile material cut-off treaty should begin without delay. In addition, the Conference, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), and the Disarmament Commission should review their working methods, and full membership status should be extended to observer States at the Conference.
KEVIN RUDD, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, said that the Conference was not doing its job, despite its past record of achievement. That situation was scandalous and should be brought to an end. The essential element on the programme of work was the fissile material cut-off treaty. Any State unable to countenance that treaty had the option of not participating in its negotiations or not joining in the final outcome. But it should not block the way for others to negotiate in the Conference. A deadline should be set by the end of the 2011 session to get to work on disarmament issues, for which there was broad international support. If that deadline could not be met, then negotiations on the weapon-grade fissile material ban needed to begin outside the Conference. His country would prefer such negotiations to take place in the Conference, but what was most critical was that they occurred, whatever the venue.
ANIFAH AMAN, Foreign Minister of Malaysia, fully supported the revitalization of the Conference’s work, out of a desire to see a world free of nuclear weapons through multilateral negotiations. To achieve that goal, the wrangling over the programme of work must end. The Conference should begin substantive work as soon as possible, through, among other measures, being restructured and transformed to allow civil society to participate in a meaningful manner. As a body that fell under the General Assembly, the Conference should also be subjected to a review by the Assembly. Most importantly, Members must display the political will to advance the agenda.
RADOSLAW SIKORSKI, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, saw an opportunity “to make hay while the sun shines”, which had to be grabbed with both hands. Poland and Norway had proposed including tactical nuclear arsenals in the arms control process; the subject of non-strategic arsenals and their role in national military doctrines could not be avoided. Poland also wanted to see the creation of a university textbook on disarmament and non-proliferation, written by experts, for use worldwide. While the rule of consensus in the Conference was paramount, it could not hold hostage negotiations forever. However, he asked whether a new forum was really needed. Poland thought not. Conference rules did not prevent a like-minded majority from starting negotiations without an explicit mandate, or from establishing a subsidiary body. Negotiations could be organized during plenary meetings, where States unable or unwilling to take part could raise their concerns and express their security interests without blocking the entire process.
DIMITRIS DROUTSAS, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece, joined the call for an immediate start of negotiations for a fissile material cut-off treaty. His country supported appointing a coordinator for the expansion of the membership of the Conference in 2011. It had repeatedly expressed interest in joining the Conference and would be the first in its region to join if that body was expanded. Greece believed that the universal impact of disarmament concerned all. The current high-level meeting was an opportunity for States to express ideas that could result in a renaissance. It was important, therefore, for concrete steps to come out of the discussions.
NICKOLAY MLADENOV, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, said that proliferation of weapons of mass destruction could not be tackled by one, two or three States alone. Instead, that problem needed to be tackled through multilateralism. The protracted stalemate in the Conference undermined progress towards agreement on concrete efforts to end proliferation. It was time, therefore, for decisive steps to be taken to address that challenge. Specific proposals had been made by the Secretary-General and the European Union. Bulgaria believed that no State should be allowed to prevent progress towards the ultimate goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.
Gordan Jandroković, Minster of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Croatia, having already joined the statement made on behalf of the European Union, also endorsed the statement made by Thailand as Coordinator of the Informal Group of Observer States to the Conference on Disarmament. As an observer State, Croatia had been supporting the work of this sole multilateral disarmament negotiation body, and was disappointed that it had not been able to engage in substantive negotiations since 1996. In respect to early commencement of the work of the Conference, Croatia was supporting negotiation on a fissile material cut-off treaty, in accordance with the “ Shannon mandate”. Nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament should not be held hostage to unrealistic demands and should be taken one step at a time. That was also in accordance with the forward-looking action plan adopted at the NPT Review Conference.
Regarding expansion of the Conference membership, he said the wishes of all prospective new members should be respected. As had already been expressed by others, the expansion would only add to the Conference’s wealth of experience and expertise, and would in no way negatively impact its work. He, therefore, welcomed the work of the Formal Group of Observer States to the Conference and the early appointment of a special coordinator for expanding its membership.
MOURAD MEDELCI, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Algeria, said it was imperative to work together to end the stalemate in the Conference, which was not due to its consensus principles. The Conference’s first priority should be to address nuclear disarmament, with the negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty and negative security assurances essential parts of that endeavour, along with prevention of the militarization of space. The international community should today recommit to restoring the Conference, which was irreplaceable, although another special session of the General Assembly on disarmament could help push matters forward.
MANOUCHEHR MOTTAKI, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran, said that the main challenge facing multilateral disarmament negotiations in the Conference was the non-compliance of the nuclear-weapon States with their nuclear disarmament negotiations. The existing institutions were efficient and adequate. The Conference should remain the single multilateral negotiating body on disarmament, with the total elimination of nuclear weapons the highest priority. It was also imperative to assure all non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. In taking forward negotiations, he stressed the need to promote the rule of law, rather than the rule of power, and to ensure the universality of the three major instruments on weapons of mass destruction. A nuclear-free zone in the Middle East was also critical.
OMAR HILALE, speaking on behalf of Taïb Fassi-Fihri, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Morocco, said that the focus should be on finding the right political chemistry to restart the Conference’s substantive work. An approach was needed that merged national security needs with that of the entire international community. Nuclear disarmament was the ultimate objective. There was a need to carry out a global exercise on disarmament with a focus on the dysfunction of the Conference. There were no magic solutions; solutions were political, and adaptive and flexible measures were required to push things forward. He proposed a special session of the General Assembly to take stock of all bodies involved in disarmament. The Conference must be updated to the world of today, and a special session was a pressing need for that purpose. He hoped that the Secretary-General would help point the way to holistic solutions.
SHIN KAK-SOO, Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea, said that the Conference stood at a critical juncture, as it had been mired in standoffs and arguments since the adoption of the CTBT in 1996. Despite the adoption of the work programme, the Conference had not been able to embark on substantive discussions. It was important to generate the political impetus to break the stalemate. Reasons for the impasse might be various and complex, and the answers to the problems might not be simple, but the longstanding deadlock was often attributed to regional security concerns on which countries were reluctant to compromise. As countries showed flexibility and a spirit of cooperation, the operation of the Conference could be given fresh impetus. Sincere efforts were needed to resolve the differences, such as concerning the Shannon mandate and CD/1864 of 2009, and to address all the major issues. While starting negotiations on the fissile material cut-off treaty, the Conference must also identify a way to discuss other major issues.
ALEXANDER STUBB, Foreign Minister of Finland, emphasized five points of importance. He said that everyone realized that nuclear weapons did not enhance security in any way or form, so the aim should be a global zero. The Conference should be the focal point of all such efforts, with a fissile material cut-off treaty leading the way. Despite remarkable achievements, the Conference had been too inactive, with action taking too long, thereby eroding that body’s authority. As such, negotiations were starting to take other formats. If Member States did not get a deal, they would end up with the “death” of the Conference on Disarmament, and discussions would be moved elsewhere. While the focus should be on nuclear proliferation, it was essential not to forget the deadliest weapons of mass destruction, namely, small arms. Today’s meeting must be followed up with concrete steps, since the time for action was now.
GUIDO WESTERWELLE, Vice Chancellor and Minster of Foreign Affairs of Germany, said that 2010 was a good year for disarmament, and it was important to ensure that the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva stayed relevant for global disarmament. The issue was not the consensus rule, but rather whether all parties had the political will to reach an agreement. Some States slowed down the process and claimed security concerns, but the Conference was not the forum in which to solve some of those difficulties. States need not fear negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty as a first but important step forward in Geneva, as their interests would be protected within the course of the process. For many reasons, the past decade had been a lost one for the Conference. As the risks of nuclear proliferation grew, the international community could not afford more delays. A decade of progress in multilateral disarmament must be initiated, and a decade of renewed progress in the Conference in particular.
LAWRENCE CANNON, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, said the formal disarmament machinery, born in the aftermath of the Second World War, had not evolved since 1978. The cold war and its regional blocs had gone, yet they remained in the Conference. The consensus rule was no longer suited to today’s multipolar world. A process of reflection could usefully begin with the start of the work of the First Committee next week. Canada also wanted to see a follow-up to today’s meeting, with a deadline; if the Conference failed to commence substantive work before the end of its 2011 session, then next year’s General Assembly should consider how its work should be pursued.
MURRAY McCULLY, Minister of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand, said stalemate and impasse were unacceptable to his country and most other Member States. National security issues were fundamental and real, and they should be taken into account in the negotiating process, rather than used as a veto on even starting negotiations. New Zealand did not consider the Conference as “fundamentally broken”, but the scorecard was lamentable and it was no surprise that people were talking about initiating negotiations for a fissile material cut-off treaty outside the Conference or of reforming the United Nations disarmament machinery. New Zealand was willing to consider alternatives, but its strong preference was to work within the Conference, with the active participation of all its members.
DIPU MONI, Foreign Minister of Bangladesh, said that the total elimination of nuclear weapons was the only absolute guarantee against their use or threat of use. Pending that goal, non-nuclear-weapon States had the legitimate right to receive security assurances from nuclear-weapon States, and she reiterated the call for immediate negotiations of a universal, unconditional and legally binding instrument for negative security assurances. There was a need to collectively revamp the Conference, progressing towards a global zero.
She said that the Conference’s traditional agenda must be re-thought as new security concerns emerged. Some issues, such as the reduction of military budgets, should be re-introduced. There was also a valid case for improving the Conference’s rules of procedure, in order to expedite its decision-making process. For example, agreements, once reached, should not be subjected to yearly revisions. In general, the Conference should be more receptive to global voices for disarmament, and should create space for civil society and non-governmental organizations working for peace and development. An effective step towards overcoming the current impasse would be to convene a fourth special session of the General Assembly on disarmament to look at aspects of revitalization in an inclusive manner.
URMAS PAET, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Estonia, said the Conference faced a unique opportunity to move forward. It had already been encouraging to witness certain countries upholding their own unilateral moratoriums. The cold war was no longer valid, and disarmament should not remain the sole business of certain groups or blocs, but must be addressed globally. For nearly 12 years, the Conference had remained smaller than one third of the United Nations membership, despite the ever-growing waitlist. Estonia considered it essential to engage all stakeholders, and the meeting should seriously consider enhancing the Conference’s membership. Estonia was committed seriously to engaging in the Conference and was willing to contribute to the advancement of disarmament in all aspects. He hoped that this year’s Conference would be a milestone leading to further gains in the near future.
BRUNO RODRIGUEZ PARRILLA, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, said the survival of the human race was in danger. Nuclear arsenals around the world amounted to 22,000 major weapons, 7,000 or more — even more powerful than those that had spread terror and death in Hiroshima and Nagasaki — ready for immediate use. The United Nations must adopt a convention of forever eliminating nuclear weapons, and it must be made a top priority of the Conference on Disarmament. He said it was unjustifiable that more was being spent today on weapons and less on promoting life and development, while millions of persons suffered the worst economic and financial adversity since the Great Depression. He proposed that at least half of current military expenditures be devoted to economic and social development, in the form of a fund to be managed by the United Nations. The international community must agree without delay on a global action programme geared to the total elimination of nuclear weapons, within no more than 15 years. Nuclear disarmament could not forever remain a postponed and conditioned goal.
LUIS AMADO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Portugal, said nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction posed a major threat to natural security and required an urgent response. The proliferation of conventional weapons was a harsh reality that fed regional conflict and claimed the lives of far too many civilians each year. Since the Conference on Disarmament was the single multilateral disarmament negotiations forum, all members must commit to the prompt adoption of the programme of work. Endorsing the call to strengthen the inclusiveness and relevance that civil society could play, he said the Conference must revitalize its work; continuing with business as usual was no longer an option. Regarding expansion of its membership, disarmament and arms control were by definition global issues and could not be tackled effectively by a limited number of countries. Expanding the Conference membership was an essential part of its revitalization.
MILENKO SKOKNIC ( Chile), speaking on behalf of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alfredo Moreno, said it was time for an in-depth reflection on the duties of the Conference, which was looking like a relic of past ages. The question of its modernization had to be raised, so that it could once again be the indisputable benchmark of multilateral disarmament. The consensus rule must not be used as a veto to prevent the majority from undertaking necessary work. A review of the membership of the Conference should be undertaken to ensure the participation of States, which had been waiting for years to join in its work. An appropriate role should also be given to civil society.
NOORA DHAFIR JAAFAR AL-SARIAA (Iraq), speaking on behalf of Minister for Foreign Affairs Hoshyar Zebari, said it was essential to free the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons. She noted how her country had decided to permanently rid itself of mass destruction weapons, and recalled the several steps it had taken towards that goal. The time had come for the Security Council to lift remaining restrictions imposed upon Iraq under resolutions 687 and 707. Those restrictions prevented her country from benefiting from scientific and technological progress as a responsible member of the international community.
SOMANAHALLI MALLAIAH KRISHNA, Minister of External Affairs of India, associating himself with the statement of the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed his country’s support for the Conference as the single multilateral negotiating forum, recognized as such by the international community. It supported the immediate start of talks on a fissile material cut-off treaty, as part of the Conference’s programme of work in 2011. It was a painful reality that a world free of nuclear weapons remained a distant goal, not least due to continued opposition to disarmament negotiations. India, thus, called for an intensification of dialogue among Member States to strengthen the international consensus on disarmament and non-proliferation.
GRIGOL VASHADZE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Georgia, said that the Conference on Disarmament should have greater influence and carry a larger impact; revitalizing it would further the goal of a world free from nuclear weapons. Members must do their utmost to reinvigorate that unique forum. The Conference could not turn a blind eye to the utmost significance of compliance with the rules imposed by international treaties, as non-compliance would irreversibly erode security and have long-term implications. In that regard, all States parties must fulfil in good faith their commitments. Georgia strongly believed that the ongoing security-related challenges should be addressed within the Conference, to enable States to develop confidence and trust for any sort of serious joint endeavour.
MOHLABI TSEKOA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Lesotho, said that the limited membership of the Conference might not augur well with multilateralism. While the Conference was hailed as the sole multilateral forum for negotiating disarmament, it had only 65 members. The other two main disarmament mechanisms in the United Nations, namely the Disarmament Commission and the First Committee, comprised all Member States and their success was known to all. The argument that the smaller the organization, the more effective, might not be true in every situation. In addition, the rules of procedure of the Conference might require strengthening. It had often surfaced that there was no progress in the Conference because of the consensus requirement embedded in its rules of procedure. He advocated for an exhaustive review of those rules.
SAMUEL ŽBOGAR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Slovenia, aligning himself with the statements made on behalf of the European Union and the Informal Group of Observers, said the present deadlock in the Conference and other international disarmament arrangements within the United Nations system was unacceptable, and he hoped that today’s event would deliver a clear message. The issue of enlarging the Conference should be addressed correctly, in a way that properly reflected the Chair’s summary. Its expansion would make it finally reflect the new realities of today’s world. In that sense, opening up that unique forum could represent an essential part of the solution. The proposal to appoint a coordinator for the Conference responsible for its expansion was welcome. He reiterated Slovenia’s view that the programme of work still represented a realistic and credible way forward towards revitalization.
SURUJRATTAN RAMBACHAN, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago, stated that any discussion on disarmament must include the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, which had caused many social problems in his region. It was imperative to conclude an agreement setting out common international standards for the importation, exportation and transfer of such weapons. Trinidad and Tobago requested help at the multilateral level to tackle that cross-border problem, and called upon all Member States to work for success at the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, to be convened in July 2012.
CHRISPUS KIYONGA, Minister of Defence of Uganda, said that despite some positive developments, States were still announcing huge arms deals, as arms manufacturers sought new markets and new affiliates, both foreign and domestic. It was regrettable that the Conference had remained deadlocked for more than a decade; it was important to refocus on the Geneva process, overcome the logjam and promote multilateral disarmament. Also important was that today’s meeting agree on an outcome to forge a breakthrough.
DANIEL AYALON, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Israel, said the Conference was long in need of an agreed, clear, comprehensive and up-to-date vision. Many important challenges continued to threaten individual States, including Israel, where the question of security touched upon the country’s very existence. The international community needed to put greater emphasis on finding an effective response to fundamental global and regional threats such as the one posed by Iran. And it needed to take every effort, including in the context of the Conference on Disarmament, to prevent such dangerous developments which could further destabilize the Middle East. While the Conference could not replace direct regional talks, it could have a role in voicing expectations of responsible behaviour of States and in the creation of norms supporting them. Israel had advocated for several years for the Conference to prioritize the issue of arms transfers to non-State actors and terrorists. Israel hoped that members of the Conference could bridge their differences and embark on constructive and effective work.
KALOMBO T. MWANSA, Member of Parliament and Special Envoy of the President of Zambia and Minister of Defence, said that following many years of stagnation, disarmament and non-proliferation issues had started to move in the right direction. Zambia appreciated regional efforts towards the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones. As a member of the African Union, Zambia was committed to the African-Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Pelindaba Treaty), and it urged the Security Council to provide leadership towards universalizing those instruments. Drawing attention to the illicit small arms and light weapons trade, he called for the establishment of a strong and legally binding international Arms Trade Treaty, and thus supported the convening of a United Nations conference on a draft in 2012.
LUIS ALMAGRO, Foreign Minster of Uruguay, said today’s meeting reaffirmed one of the most highly valued principles in foreign policy, namely, faith in multilateral diplomacy. Through multilateral channels, the Conference and its forerunners became the authentic environment for giving life to the main instruments for arms limitation. With the Conference at an impasse, Uruguay would propose that it take advantage of the current political juncture that allowed for a return to a moderate multilateralism and start negotiations without further delay to ban weapon-grade fissile material for nuclear weapons. The Conference should expand its membership. If that body was not capable of overcoming its stagnation, then the General Assembly must inevitably act according to the mandate conferred on it by the United Nations Charter. Voicing his support for the Secretary-General’s five-point plan for disarmament and non-proliferation, he noted that Uruguay would host a regional conference to identify concrete proposals to advance general and complete disarmament.
ARVIN BOOLELL, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mauritius, described recent progress in the field of nuclear disarmament as an ideal basis for enhanced multilateral negotiations. Mauritius had a long-standing commitment to the disarmament process, which should lead as soon as possible to the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. It also supported the nuclear-weapon-free zone in Africa. It shared in the disappointment that the Conference had been unable to function, owing to a lack of consensus. Hopefully, a proper course of action would be set out.
PATRICIA LONDONO, Deputy Foreign Minister of Colombia, said that after more than 10 years with no substantive work, the Conference found itself at a crossroads. Colombia joined others in reiterating support for a fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament. It was hoped that in the next year, a consensus could be achieved that would ultimately lead to a more peaceful world.
ALBERTO D’ALOTTO, Secretary for External Relations of Argentina, said that a process had started some years ago into why the Conference had stalled. It was clear that the way around the impasse was not in the hands of the Conference, itself. Sight must not be lost of the fact that Conference remained valid; what was needed was a mobilization of political will. Argentina was committed to revitalizing the process of multilateral disarmament; the best way forward would be substantial negotiations within the framework of the Conference.
JUAN PABLO DE LAIGLESIA, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Spain, aligning his country with the statement made earlier on behalf of the European Union, said that today’s meeting should be the start of a collective commitment to ensure that the Conference remained the forum for international disarmament efforts. More worrisome was the non-permeability of the positions of Member States, which demonstrated a lack of confidence in the Conference. The logic of the cold war no longer made sense; Spain called upon all those with national security fears to help the Conference out of stagnation. Spain supported enlarging the Conference to include all member States of the European Union; it also stood ready to negotiate a convention on fissile material.
T.D. HART, Senior Special Assistant to the President at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, affirming Nigeria’s belief that the Conference was the sole international multilateral disarmament negotiating forum, recommended that nuclear-weapon States give priority attention to their commitments, as specified in the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference, and to even-handed multilateral negotiations, avoiding selective treatment of the issues. Additionally, rather than altering the rule of consensus for decision-making in the Conference, members should be encouraged to be broad-minded regarding international peace and security. The time had also come to consider expanding that body’s membership to reflect today’s geopolitical realities. While Nigeria noted efforts in bilateral negotiations, such as the Russian-United States, and Chinese-Russian initiatives, they were no substitute for multilateral disarmament negotiations.
PETER MAURER, State Secretary of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, emphasizing the need for fully functional disarmament mechanisms to be at the international community’s disposal, called for a way in the short-term to enable the Conference to move forward and begin negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty, negative security assurances, nuclear disarmament, and prevention of an outer space arms race. To reinvigorate disarmament mechanisms in the longer-term, deep reflection about the aims, orientation and structure of the disarmament machinery was needed, taking into account legitimate security interests, particularly the rule of consensus and how to apply it to prevent abuses. It remained to be determined whether mechanisms established during the cold war enabled the development of responses to meet current-day challenges.
KAMEL MORJANE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Tunisia, said that the high-level meeting was taking place in a particularly complex environment, with the emergence of encouraging signals in the disarmament arena. The result of the NPT Review Conference reflected that new environment. Today’s meeting was also taking place after a long period of difficulty in the Conference. The challenges facing it constituted a genuine source of concern, and he called for understanding and goodwill on the part of States. The stakes were significant, but there was always space for hope. It was necessary to demonstrate requisite flexibility.
CLAUDE HELLER ( Mexico) called for Member States to have an open mind in considering the current status of the Conference’s work. The principle of consensus might be valid for substantive issues, but it had been abused, thus discrediting its use by being used essentially as a veto. The time had come to issue an ultimatum to the Conference and establish a limit denoting the period for it to carry out its mandate. If it failed to meet that limit, the General Assembly should take over its responsibilities. It should not be difficult for Member States to make the decision to put an end to the Conference’s paralysis, if they wanted to do so. Mexico hoped that the summary to be drafted of today’s meeting would reflect a clear strategy to overcome the stalemate or propose an alternate for preventing some States from taking over the agenda. If the Conference failed to show that it was ready to assume its responsibilities, the next step forward should be taken, even if that meant leaving it.
RAFAEL QUINTERO, Under-Secretary-General for Multilateral Affair of Ecuador, expressed the hope that the high-level meeting would lead to a “re-dynamised” movement. It should revalidate the need for multilateral negotiations and must reaffirm multilateralism as the guiding principle for disarmament negotiations. The elimination of weapons of mass destruction was the only guarantee against the use of those weapons. Ecuador called for a comprehensive work agenda for the Conference; its stagnation was inadmissible and unjustifiable. Moreover, the issue was not merely procedural, but was political as well. The geopolitical and other considerations could not be ignored, and a political situation needed a political solution. Ecuador hoped that the situation would change very soon so positive steps could be taken for future generations.
Taking the floor again, as the Meeting’s Chairman, Mr. BAN, United Nations Secretary-General, said he was heartened by the resolve to revitalize the work of the Conference on Disarmament and take forward the multilateral disarmament agenda. He said he had seen widespread recognition of the importance of multilateralism in disarmament and non-proliferation negotiations.
He noted widespread concern over the impasse in the Conference and cautioned that alternative venues might be sought for negotiations. He identified the consensus adoption of the programme of work by the Conference in 2009 as the most common point of agreement. For that reason, he strongly suggested that, at its first plenary meeting in 2011, the Conference adopt that programme or any other similar subsequent proposal submitted during the 2010 session.
He pledged to ask his Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters to undertake a thorough review of the issues raised at today’s meeting and, based on its recommendations, pledged to consider further action, including convening a high-level panel of eminent persons.
He said he also hoped that the President of the General Assembly would lend his support to proposals to follow-up today’s meeting, both directly in the Assembly’s plenary and in its First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), and he welcomed the announcement that the nuclear-weapon States would hold a meeting next year in Paris.
“With sustained engagement and leadership, we can bridge differences, overcome the deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament and revitalize multilateral disarmament,” he concluded.
ALEXIS AQUINO (Peru), speaking on behalf of the country’s Under-Secretary-General for Multilateral Affairs, Luzmila Zanabria, said that sustainable development and the eradication of poverty could not be guaranteed through spending on weapons. And, only disarmament could guarantee international security and ensure that weapons did not fall into the hands of non-State parties. A treaty on a fissile material ban was indispensable. The Conference was key, and today’s priority was its viability and survival, but if difficulties persisted, Peru was in favour of exploring other avenues.
AHMET ÜZÜMCÜ, Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, noted that when the Conference on Disarmament concluded the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1992, it produced the first treaty that banned an entire category of weapons of mass destruction in a non-discriminatory manner, under strict international verification. He hoped that his organization’s positive experience overseeing implementation of that Convention would reinforce confidence in multilateral action. Highlighting achievements, he said that over 60 per cent of chemical weapons were destroyed, and three possessor States had fulfilled their destruction obligations. In addition, the systematic verification of the global chemical industry was serving non-proliferation goals.
Support for the Convention was evident in Membership, which stood at 188 States parties, he said, however, full benefits would remain elusive until the remaining seven States not party to the treaty acceded to it. Until that was accomplished, there could not be a guarantee that chemical weapons had been eliminated completely from the world. Three of those States were located in the Middle East, he added. As for the possessor States Parties that had been unable to meet the final destruction deadline of 29 April, he advocated a forward-looking approach, acknowledging, too, that the non-proliferation objectives of the Convention needed strengthening. Full implementation of the Convention in domestic jurisdictions was vital, especially as it constituted the most practical means of addressing contemporary threats related to chemical terrorism.
TIBOR TÓTH, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, pointed to “landmark achievements’ by the Conference, including the test-ban Treaty. The propensity for more nuclear tests would grow, however, as long as that Treaty had not entered into force. The second nuclear test carried out by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had revealed that continued testing resulted in the qualitative improvement of even crude nuclear devices, while countries with nascent nuclear programmes would pursue the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons, amplifying arms races in volatile parts of the world. Actualizing the verification mechanisms in the Treaty was paramount if the international community wanted to bring about a nuclear-weapon-free world.
GEOFFREY SHAW, Representative of the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said that while the Agency was not a negotiating forum like the Conference on Disarmament, it could, with its knowledge and experience, facilitate the implementation of disarmament, for example, by helping to build confidence through verifying independently that nuclear materials from dismantled weapons were never again used for military purposes. It could also assist in the establishment of new nuclear-weapon-free zones, when requested. The IAEA would strengthen efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. It had a mandate to prevent nuclear materials from being diverted to nuclear weapons through the implementation of Agency safeguards in connection with the obligations of States pursuant to non-proliferation treaties and related arrangements. Preventing more States from acquiring nuclear weapons was an essential element of a world free of nuclear weapons. The IAEA planned to redouble its efforts to assist States to prevent nuclear terrorism. It would provide practical support in terms of guidance, training and equipment to States to strengthen national efforts to prevent terrorist groups from acquiring nuclear and radioactive material and to enhance the security of facilities containing those materials.
LUVSANTSEREN ORGIL ( Mongolia) said that his country believed that it was in the security interest of States to revitalize the Conference’s work. Its revitalization should envisage revised rules of procedure reflecting the current situation. Mongolia believed that consensus was the best method of work for the Conference, but that that principle should not apply to all issues. Procedural matters should be decided by vote. Mongolia called for States to exercise greater flexibility in order to realize the goal of revitalizing the Conference.
IVAN BARBALIC (Bosnia and Herzegovina), noting that the current environment was suitable for the Conference to resume its work, called for the universalization of its objectives. The commitment of nuclear-weapon States was one of the key elements of the non-proliferation regime. Further progress in revitalizing the work of the Conference should start with full implementation of decisions already in force. The current situation presented opportunities that should not be missed, as well as challenges that should not be ignored.
TACAN İLDEM, Director-General for International Security Affairs of the Foreign Ministry of Turkey, said that the Conference was the world’s single multilateral disarmament negotiation forum and the only one in which all official or self-designated nuclear-weapon States took part. Global problems could not be solved unilaterally, bilaterally or in small circles of like-minded nations. Equally, second track initiatives or new formations where participation of all concerned parties was not granted would fail to bring about desired outcomes. Therefore, various impediments blocking the path to advancing the Conference’s work should be addressed constructively and by engaging the parties, in order to alleviate legitimate concerns. There was no question that the parameters for the negotiation of a future fissile material cut-off treaty were at the core of the current deadlock. As a starting point, he believed that launching negotiations within the framework of the Shannon mandate, which would not exclude existing stockpiles, should accommodate the concerns of individual Member States.
MARY-HONOR KLOEG ( Netherlands) said the Conference was the best forum for negotiations, as it included both nuclear—weapon States and non-nuclear-weapon States. If it could not move forward, notably at this time of budgetary constraints, then alternative ways should be considered to further the goals. Misuse of the consensus rule had prevented work from being done; thus it was important to bring working methods up to twenty-first century standards. The Conference should consider seeking external advice on how to enhance its effectiveness, and it ideally should be made available before the start of the first session of the Conference in 2011.
MUSA KOUSA, Secretary of the General People’s Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation of Libya, affirmed his country’s commitment to United Nations resolutions concerning disarmament and to the ultimate objective of achieving general and complete disarmament under international monitoring. Emphasizing that cuts in nuclear weapons should be irreversible and transparent, he called upon all nuclear-weapon States to place their facilities under IAEA inspection. He also called for the full implementation of the 2010 NPT Review Conference Plan of Action, particularly as it related to the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, as well as for the international community to press Israel to accede to the NPT. He reaffirmed multilateralism as the core disarmament principle and the Conference on Disarmament as the sole multilateral body for disarmament negotiations, also demanding the appointment of a special coordinator for the expansion of the Conference’s membership.
JUSTIN N. SERUHERE (United Republic of Tanzania) extended full support to the work of the Conference and the need for multilateral negotiations, under United Nations auspices, with a view to decisions by consensus. Aware that the main focus of the Conference was on nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, the United Republic of Tanzania and others in the developing world lost a lot of lives and properties, owing to proliferation of conventional weapons. The major problem was small arms and light weapons, which exacerbated conflict, insecurity and instability, and facilitated trans-border crime among developing counties. Those weapons caused the loss of life in developed countries as well. While the Conference inevitably deliberated on nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, it was important to also think of the rest of the world for which disarmament currently hinged on small arms and light weapons.
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