General Assembly Strives to Chart Way Out of Paralysis Gripping Conference on Disarmament, Stoking Divergent Views on Taking Negotiations Elsewhere
General Assembly Strives to Chart Way Out of Paralysis Gripping Conference on Disarmament, Stoking Divergent Views on Taking Negotiations Elsewhere
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
115th & 116th Meetings (AM & PM)
General Assembly Strives to Chart Way Out of Paralysis Gripping Conference
on Disarmament, Stoking Divergent Views on Taking Negotiations Elsewhere
Pakistan Blames Powerful Nations for Conference Dysfunction,
‘Cherry Picking’ Issues Ripe for Negotiation Based on Own Security Interests
Frustrated at operating procedures that had left the United Nations Conference on Disarmament vulnerable to “hostage-taking” by a single Member State, delegates addressing the General Assembly today debated options for reforming — or even abandoning — that “dysfunctional” body, while others countered that the 12-year impasse reflected the need to take a stand against a “clear pattern” of selective and discriminatory negotiations.
It was unacceptable, many said, that the world’s foremost multilateral disarmament negotiating body, which was charged with safeguarding peace and security, had failed to fulfil its mandate or make substantive progress in more than a decade. Several blamed the Conference’s rules of procedure, which, by requiring consensus on all decisions, effectively gave all States a “veto power” that allowed any of them to halt progress.
If the Conference was unable to break the deadlock, said the representative of Japan, appropriate alternatives must be considered, such as making greater use of the General Assembly. The current state of affairs also called into question the very form of the Conference, he said. Others echoed that sentiment, with some even suggesting that negotiations move outside the Conference on Disarmament to another body. To that point, many noted that the subsidiary bodies of the United Nations were not an end in themselves and that all possible venues should be explored to achieve the Conference’s mandated goals. The delegate from Canada stressed that starting such an external negotiating process was not a reflection of the Conference’s failure, but could be a necessary alternative.
The representative of Pakistan, however, issued a resounding rebuke of that analysis, saying that the real reason for the Conference’s “dysfunction” was the lack of political will by some nuclear-armed States to negotiate in a fair and balanced way. “The problems faced by the Conference on Disarmament are not of an organizational or procedural nature,” he stressed.
For example, he said, after having developed “huge stockpiles of nuclear weapons”, those Powers were now ready to negotiate a treaty — the fissile materials cap treaty — which would ban the future production of nuclear material, “since they no longer need more of it”. The Conference, he said, “cannot negotiate through cherry-picking issues that some States consider ripe”, pointing to what he described as “a clear pattern of negotiating only those agreements that do not undermine or compromise the security interest of powerful States”. He cited as examples, the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions, and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).
The same could be said of a fissile material cut-off treaty; stocks of that material could be converted quickly into nuclear warheads, he said. If the negotiations for such an instrument were to take place outside the Conference, he said, “ Pakistan will not join any such process nor would it consider accession to the outcome of any such process.”
Many delegates, in the course of the debate, agreed that the consensus rule needed to protect the security of all countries equally and not just that of the strongest, while others held that the consensus rule had never been envisaged as a way to allow one State to frustrate the desire of the majority to engage in talks.
Although some calls were heard to consider a new venue, many more States expressed the hope that revitalization of the Conference could come “from within”. The representative of Bulgaria, for example, said “the responsibility lies with us, its members”. Ironically, the work of the Conference should be more relevant now than ever, and the international community should be more convinced of the importance of multilateralism now than ever.
“A poor workman blames his tools,” said the representative of Iran. Although there were continued attempts to conceal the political nature of its inactivity by blaming the “tools” — or rules of procedure — of the Conference, what appeared to be procedural problems were actually political ones. There was no alternative to the Conference, he stressed, and the best way to address the challenge was to “cross the stream where it is shallowest”.
Many agreed that any course of reform chosen should be aimed at allowing the Conference to move forward on several key issues: the need to begin negotiating, without delay, an internationally verifiable fissile material cut-off treaty; the urgency of talks on a legally binding agreement on negative security assurances; and the expansion of the Conference’s membership to those States that had expressed legitimate interest in joining — including thought the appointment of a Special Coordinator to study that possibility.
But whatever the path chosen, said the representative of the Philippines, “we must make a choice, and follow through sooner, rather than later”. Others agreed, adding that if the Conference did not adapt to the changing realities of the world today, it risked becoming irrelevant — and, worse yet, compromising the legitimacy of the institutions that it was a part of.
This morning, as the general debate of the High-level Meeting on Youth concluded, the need to empower young people to participate in tackling the great challenges facing the globe was underlined, with speakers outlining national initiatives to help young people face such major obstacles as unemployment, lack of education and marginalization, and many calling for a greater focus among United Nations agencies in support of those efforts.
“Participation, as a prerequisite for achieving mutual dialogue and understanding, is not just an option but a demand expressed by youth,” the youth representative from Liechtenstein said. She prioritized young people’s needs for a free, open Internet, sexual and reproductive health education and family planning, and fighting impunity for violation of the rights of children during conflict.
Reproductive health education and family planning, she said, was not only a human right, but a demographic imperative, and it was “unacceptable” that a 15-year-old girl in South Sudan had a higher chance of dying in childbirth than of completing school. Armed conflicts were the main source of children’s rights violations, and fighting impunity was a prerequisite for establishing long-term peace, in which children were not compelled to take part in such violence.
Young people were the future of humanity, said the Permanent Observer for the Holy See, and to play their crucial role responsibly as they entered adulthood, they needed a proper education that enabled them to distinguish between right and wrong, virtue and vice. Every child should grow up in a family environment, which would promote responsible citizenship. It was where young people first learned moral responsibility and respect for others. Mothers and fathers had the primary duty for raising children, and parents should not withdraw from that role. States should respect parents’ rights and responsibilities in that regard.
The High-level Meeting had held round tables at the beginning of its debate on 25 and 26 July, under the themes of strengthening international cooperation regarding youth and enhancing dialogue, mutual understanding and active youth participation as indispensable elements towards social integration, full employment and the eradication of poverty; and challenges to youth development and opportunities for poverty eradication, employment and sustainable development.
The Meeting capped activities spearheaded in the context of the International Year of Youth and resulted in adoption of an outcome document that called for action in some 17 sectors to enable young people to fulfil their potentials and ensure that they participated integrally in global efforts for peace and sustainable development (see Press Release GA/11119 of 26 July).
In other business, the Assembly adopted a draft decision entitled “Participation of civil society representatives in the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases, to be convened on 19 and 20 September 2011” (document A/65/L.88).
Also speaking this morning at the High-level Meeting on youth were the representatives of Lebanon, San Marino, Andorra, Iran, Cuba, Colombia, Madagascar, Pakistan, Costa Rica, Portugal, Kazakhstan, Israel, Bangladesh, Russian Federation, Slovenia, Togo, Venezuela, United Republic of Tanzania, Malaysia, Thailand, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Ireland, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Bulgaria, Bolivia, Sudan, Serbia, Afghanistan, Mauritania and Peru.
The Permanent Observer for Palestine also spoke.
Contributing as well were observers for the Commonwealth Secretariat and Partners in Population and Development.
Participating as well in this afternoon’s meeting on the Conference on Disarmament were the representatives of Algeria, Portugal, Israel, Ireland, Uruguay, Turkey, India, Kazakhstan, Viet Nam, Mexico, Chile, Slovenia, Malaysia, Spain, Bangladesh, Finland and South Africa.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, spoke on a point of order, as well as in exercise of the right of reply.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 11 a.m. Friday, 29 July, to hear the remaining speakers in the High-level Meeting on the Conference on Disarmament, as well as to conclude its debate on the human right to water and sanitation.
The General Assembly met today to continue its High-level Meeting on Youth under the theme “Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding”, as well as its High-level Meeting on “Revitalizing the Conference on Disarmament and taking forward multilateral disarmament negotiations”.
Statements in High-Level Meeting on Youth
NAWAF SALAM (Lebanon) said the percentage of unemployed girls in the Arab region was the highest in the world. Even more dangerous was the sense of marginalization among the wide spectrum of youth, due to their weak participation in public life, particularly decision-making. “This is behind the waves of youth protestations over the past decades,” he said, emphasizing that their aspirations to participate in shaping their future were legitimate. It was no exaggeration that the spirit of inventiveness was the highest form of insurance for young people’s future. With that, he emphasized the need for United Nations specialized agencies, programmes and funds to continue their support of youth empowerment. Young people must acquire information and communications technologies, and the Organization must do its best to bridge the digital gap between the global North and South.
DANIELE D. BODINI (San Marino) asked: “Did our generation plan properly for the new ones? Did we understand our youth aspirations?” Unfortunately, not enough was being done. Millions of young people did not enjoy adequate security. Too many were dying of starvation and lacked access to education. Too many were being exploited sexually. It was time to act in a coordinated manner to provide them with prosperity and justice. Non-governmental organizations, schools and both the public and private sectors must focus on protecting young people mentally and physically, providing them education, creating job security and giving them a sense of belonging to society. Children’s well-being could be enhanced by renewing strong family values, expanding social projects focused on the underprivileged, and sustaining political systems in which human rights were protected.
NARCÍS CASAL DE FONSDEVIELA (Andorra) said it was hard to find reference points for youth in an ever-changing world, and the economic crisis had reinforced a feeling of instability. Young people were the primary victims of that crisis, and to deny them access to the labour market was to deny them a future. They were the driving force for pulling societies out of crisis. Given that, it was essential for them to listen to each other, recognize the existence of divergent positions and find compromise. They must be provided with the tools to achieve their goals. In Andorra, youth policies had been created for, with and by young people. The National Youth Forum, set up in 2007, for example, aimed to promote youth participation in economic, social and political life, while Andorra’s youth law had been drafted with regional institutions and local stakeholders. Globally, Andorra had contributed more than 90,000 euros to the United Nations Youth Fund.
ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran) said that he was delivering his statement on behalf of his country’s Minister of Youth, who had not been granted a visa to attend. Particular policy attention, he continued, was needed to address the aspirations of youth, nationally and internationally, to prevent alienation, especially at present. That was characterized by “manipulation of art, technology and the modern media, along with increasing discrimination and inequalities”. With one of the youngest societies in the world, and youth comprising some 60 per cent of the population, Iran had created in 1992 the statute of the High Council of Youth, to supervise youth institutions and organizations and foster social centres, with other initiatives to assist youth to live up to their highest potentials. In the past months, the Ministry of Youth and Sport had been established at the cabinet level; and regional meetings and other cooperation had taken place.
RODOLFO ELISEO BENÍTEZ VERSÓN (Cuba) said that young people were not only the future, but they were also the present, and it was urgent to address the challenges facing them and help them to become the driving force for facing the colossal challenges of the world. They deserved the option for a better future. Cuban youth, representing some 20 per cent of the population, were provided free health care and education, which were pillars of the Cuban revolution, based on equality and inclusion. Graduates were guaranteed their first jobs, and protection was offered in many other areas. Huge obstacles persisted, however, including what he called the criminal blockade and terrorism against his county. Despite that, Cuba cooperated with the development of many countries, in an effort to maximize the capabilities of young people to help bring about a better world.
MIGUEL CAMILO RUIZ (Colombia), noting that more than 50 per cent of his country’s population was under the age of 25, appealed for more concrete and effective action to promote the rights of young people, develop their capabilities and place them at the centre of development. He said that greater commitment and institutional support at the national level was needed and greater integration and support of the United Nations system was important to assist that effort. The Programme of Action of Youth was a critical part of that. Guaranteeing human development, promoting inter-generational contacts and increased investment were also crucial. Universal enjoyment by youth of their rights, and recognition of their needs in the development context were also critical, and he appealed to the Latin American States to fulfil all their commitments in that regard.
ZINA ANDRIANARIVELO-RAZAFY (Madagascar), aligning with the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said it was more pressing than ever to scale up commitments to young people, as global development required that young people flourish. Yet, youth, particularly in the global South, faced unemployment, a lack of access to education and health care, social instability, and vulnerability to drugs, prostitution and modern slavery, among other ills. In Madagascar, 30 per cent of the population was below age 30, and the Government was sparing no effort to make them the priority. It had implemented a National Institute for Youth, while the Ministry of Youth and Recreation had created awareness about reproductive health of adolescents. Moreover, a National Council of Youth bolstered the frameworks for young people. The Government implemented a programme to combat human trafficking and young reporters’ clubs allowed young people aged 13 to 24 to express their views. With that, he called on States to follow up on commitments made at the World Programme for Youth.
RAZA BASHIR TARAR ( Pakistan), aligning with the Group of 77, said he fully supported educating youth about the ideals of peace, justice, tolerance and solidarity to achieve development. With a population of more than 173 million, Pakistan was the sixth-most populous country in the world. An estimated 104 million Pakistanis were below age 30, a situation which carried challenges and opportunities. To unlock the potential of youth, the national youth policy aimed to provide them with economic opportunities and emphasized the needs of young women and young people with disabilities. The National Vocational and Technical Education Commission worked to mobilize funds and set up training from the private sector and civil society organizations. “The voice of young women and men has to be heard and respected,” he said, urging States to develop comprehensive policies and strategies. International cooperation also helped to ensure an equitable distribution of global resources and promoted non-discriminatory policies.
EDUARDO ULIBARRI (Costa Rica) said it was the responsibility of each State to recognize and promote the basic rights of young people, as respecting those rights was key to eradicating poverty and injustice, and essential for creating opportunities. Costa Rica’s public youth policy had been discussed and approved with the involvement of youth representatives and centred on human rights. To meet the needs of young people aged 12 to 35, Costa Rica had taken a holistic approach to understanding society, focusing on entrepreneurship and comprehensive health care, and making a solid commitment to education. More broadly, it was important to create a matrix of indicators and follow through with measures proposed in the high-level meeting’s outcome document. It also was essential to examine education, as well as human rights training, which must be considered at all stages of life.
JOSÉ FILIPE MORAES CABRAL (Portugal) reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the World Programme of Action for Youth, and called on all States to implement it as a unified guide for action at all levels. Portugal had been active in empowering youth in many ways, deeming it critical for young people to be involved in decision-making in many areas. A conference for young immigrants, for example, had been held recently and the country had been active in United Nations forums on the issues. He pointed to the major obstacle of violence, as well as exploitation, experienced by young people. In that light, he called on all countries that had not yet done so to sign and ratify the two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
BYRGANYM AITIMOVA (Kazakhstan) welcomed progress in the implementation of the World Programme of Action. To ensure the mainstreaming of the future generation of leaders in the political, social and cultural life of countries and in the efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, she urged national initiatives and called for greater coordination and streamlining of the work of United Nations development agencies, and for greater international funding. Youth movements fostering harmony were particularly important. Her country had a youth-oriented social policy that prioritized education, socialization, employment and forward-looking values. Education was a budget priority, and the Council of Youth mechanism maximized youth involvement in many spheres. The youth labour movement had been another major aim.
RON PROSOR (Israel) said that the commitment of one generation to the next was the foundation for a strong and healthy society. Protecting, integrating and empowering young people were fundamental obligations of the State. Describing Israeli programmes to respond to the needs of at-risk youth, he said that his country strongly supported the World Programme. He reported that Israel’s international development agency had trained hundreds of thousands of educators and youths from all over the world. Strongly supporting the provision of the outcome document, which underscored the need to protect young people exploited by terrorism and incitement, he called for a focus on tolerance and mutual understanding. Citing the technological advances embraced by young people, he urged their empowerment to “harness the new technologies before us to create a more prosperous, a more tolerant and a more peaceful world.”
MOHAMMAD SARWAR MAHMOOD (Bangladesh), aligning with the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said: “youth are the most important resource of a country”; young people were likely to be future leaders, planners and decision-makers. To engage unemployed youth in national development, the Department of Youth Development had implemented “massive” programmes on motivation, skills development, self-employment and microcredit support. The average income of a self-employed young person in Bangladesh ranged from $20 to $670 and, in some cases, more than $1,300 a month in a country where the average per capita income was $670. The Government had introduced the National Service Programme, which provided jobs on a two-year temporary basis to unemployed youth with a secondary education.
SERGEY N. KAREV (Russian Federation) attached great importance to youth, saying that young people accounted for 27 per cent of the Russian population. In addition to enjoying mobility, they were able to adapt to and acquire new knowledge. They also helped societies overcome the negative impacts of the global economic crisis. For its part, the Russian Federation was providing for future generations, through the implementation of coordinated policies by the Ministry of Sport, Tourism and Youth, which were “in step” with the Global Programme for Youth. Since 1993, the country had celebrated the Day of Youth by holding meetings, concerts and sports events. On 27 June, a meeting between that Ministry and youth leaders had focused on the International Year of Youth. He also discussed a key document aimed to create conditions to empower young people by fostering their participation in political life. Indeed, the International Year had shown that youth could contribute to their countries and to the global community as a whole.
SANJA ŠTIGLIC(Slovenia) aligning with the European Union, said the future depended on what today’s policy-makers did to enable young people to participate in their societies, ensure their education, and create job opportunities. Young people must be involved in decision-making through youth-led organizations, which were important forums for promoting tolerance, dialogue and mutual understanding. It was important to strengthen the role of those groups and support their involvement in the development of strategies and policies at all levels and on all issues, including sustainable development and human rights. For its part, Slovenia encouraged youth development, social integration and autonomy through various programmes. Young people had their own peer organizations to present their views in decision-making at national and local levels, including through the Youth Parliament. Two consultative bodies comprised of youth representatives also had been set up so young people could promote measures and monitor issues of interest.
KODJO MENAN (Togo), noting that his President was one of the youngest Heads of State in the world, said that his Government sought to find innovative solutions to the challenges facing youth and to involve young people in the socio-political life of the country. A ministry for youth policies and a national council had been established. This year, a National Youth Forum had been held to renew young people’s civic participation. It was planned to take place every two years. To increase opportunities for youth employment, small businesses had been highlighted and credit had been made available. Despite all efforts taken national and internationally, increased solidarity was needed to achieve the objectives of the Action Plan. No effort was too great if it was directed towards young people, he said, citing an unnamed Togolese leader.
JORGE VALERO BRICEÑO (Venezuela), endorsing the statement made by Argentina on behalf of the Group of 77, noted the People’s Power for Youth policy recently adopted by his country. Inclusion of youth in education at all levels was a priority of his Government, as was increased Internet access. Venezuela recognized young people as agents of development, and a youth council had been established for that purpose. In the Bolivarian revolution, in addition, many young people were responsible for change at many levels. Young people were also making their mark in art, science, culture and sports. He called on all nations to provide new generations with the tools they need to have a rewarding life, to enable them to live in harmony with one another and Mother Nature.
OMBENI Y. SEFUE (United Republic of Tanzania), supporting statements made on behalf of the Group of 77 and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said he favoured the establishment of a dedicated United Nations entity for youth. His country invested heavily to provide access to education and skills training and to improve the health of youth. A youth development fund had been created and youth employment was being promoted in both farming and non-farming sectors. Globalization built and fuelled great aspirations among young people, and social media spurred those dreams, although it could not always fulfil them. He called on all to assist the empowerment of youth to make real advancement, spiritually and materially.
FARISHA SALMAN (Malaysia) said 43 per cent of her country’s population — 12.5 million Malaysians — were young people between the ages of 15 and 40, and the Ministry of Youth and Sports was tasked to prepare them for contributing to national growth and prosperity. The country had been among the first to formulate a national youth policy in 1985, which focused on such areas as youth empowerment, human resource development and youth leadership. The Tenth Malaysia Plan also recognized youth participation as critical to the nation’s growth. Further, Malaysia had hosted the second Global Model United Nations in 2010, in which more than 500 young delegates had participated. With that, she hoped that the outcome document of the High-level Meeting would be translated into concrete action.
JAKKRIT SRIVALI ( Thailand) said Thailand’s embrace of economic globalization had transformed family structures, wealth distribution and access to opportunity. Economic development had brought greater material well-being, but also wider income disparities and a proliferation of unsustainable lifestyles. “Thailand’s youth are greatly affected by these changes,” he said, noting that unequal access to education and jobs meant that Thailand had young Malaysians who were highly skilled, and “vast” numbers of others who were unprepared for economic competition. Addressing those challenges required a coordinated approach. For its part, the Government, in 2009, had launched a policy of 15 years of free education. Thai youth delegates had also attended the General Assembly for several years, and he encouraged other developing countries to foster the same inclusion.
CAMILLO GONSALVES (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), aligning with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Group of 77, said traditional halls of power and politics — including the General Assembly Hall — were often dominated by those for whom youth was but a dim memory. Many leaders had failed to earn the trust of young people. But the world’s youth must be listened to and embraced. They must be made active partners in both national development and global governance. His Government had invested heavily in youth at all levels of society, having, in the last decade, achieved universal access to secondary education. The high-level event must have something to show for itself beyond a “tepid” outcome document. It must be the beginning of a “reimagining” of young people’s role in national development and the starting point of genuine efforts to embrace young people as equal partners.
ANNE ANDERSON (Ireland), aligning herself with the statement made on behalf of the European Union, said she favoured a human-rights based approach to the implementation of the World Programme of Action. Gender equality was critical in the effort; women and girls must be empowered as agents of change. It was also essential to build on the potentials of all young people in the developing world to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. In her country, a Cabinet position for youth affairs had been created and a commitment had been made to develop a youth policy framework. The Government was also strongly dedicated to promoting the participation of young people in civil society, and had established many youth forums. Empowering marginalized young people was also a focus. With one of the youngest populations in Europe, Ireland’s young people remained its greatest resource; she hoped that the International Year helped increase opportunities for young people worldwide.
RODNEY CHARLES (Trinidad and Tobago), aligning himself with the statements made on behalf of the Group of 77 and CARICOM, said that his country’s national youth policy addressed many sectors, including education, health, gender equality, youth crime and violence, youth unemployment and leadership development. It promoted youth empowerment and participation, placing youth at the forefront of policy development and implementation. Special initiatives were launched in that light to mark the International Year, including the National Youth Consultation programme, involving youth in decision-making at the highest levels. Reaffirming the World Programme of Action, he recognized the need to improve the framework on youth to address the challenges they faced. It was time to move beyond dialogue to implementation and resource mobilization.
DESSIMA M. WILLIAMS (Grenada) looked to the full implementation of the outcome document of the meeting. In her country, the youth held much promise but were weighed down by social and economic forces that led to high unemployment and other challenges. Nevertheless, the country was witnessing a strong and positive youth sector. Girls were graduating from school in record numbers, young athletes were breaking sports records, many more were in professional schools and work sectors, and many others participated in Government. There was a healthy dynamism that they spread as they succeeded. However, far too many youth could not achieve their potential. She reiterated the vision of a strong engagement of youth in the pursuit of sustainable development, with international assistance. Young people had a sense of their own intrinsic worth, and it was the obligation of all to help them realize their potential to the fullest.
RAYKO S. RAYTCHEV (Bulgaria) said recent events in the Middle East and North Africa once again pointed to the key role of young people as agents of social change. Aligning with the European Union, he described national programmes and activities, including the national youth strategy (2010-2011), which focused on employment for youth between the ages of 15 and 29 years. Actions to implement that strategy aimed at improving high school and university education, and strengthening the links between education and business. Volunteering was also encouraged to enhance skills in various professional and scientific areas. More broadly, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs cooperated with the United Nations Association in Bulgaria to promote youth participation at the United Nations. The national selection process, currently in its sixth year, aimed to ensure that the most proactive students represented Bulgarian youth and worked alongside diplomats.
CARLA ESPÓSITO GUEVARA( Bolivia), aligning with the Group of 77, said many young people looked towards the future with fear, as they had found no work. “We cannot continue on this path,” she said, noting that in her country, young people from all social strata had taken to the streets to defend their rights to salary, water, electricity, employment and to a future. The economic crisis, climate change and war hit young people hard. Such structural problems must be resolved to ensure that future generations lived in security. Bolivia had devised several youth policies and supported university education for indigenous peoples. Credit and microcredit programmes were also available for young people, while women’s access to land was ensured through a land redistribution programme. She hoped the outcome document would strengthen young peoples’ participation in building a development model that was in harmony with nature.
The youth representative and adviser from Liechtenstein said “participation, as a prerequisite for achieving mutual dialogue and understanding, is not just an option but a demand expressed by youth”. Arab youths had reminded the world of the power of peaceful protest. Once a person had tasted the freedom of expression, “there’s no going back”, she said, and a free, open Internet was essential to providing suppressed populations with a taste of that right. Along similar lines, it was not only a human right but a demographic imperative to deliver sexual and reproductive health education and family planning, as it was “unacceptable” that a 15-year-old girl in South Sudan had a higher chance of dying in childbirth than of completing school. Armed conflicts were the main source of children’s rights violations, and fighting impunity was a prerequisite for establishing long-term peace, in which children were not compelled to take part in such violence.
IDRIS ISMAIL FARAGALLA HASSAN (Sudan), supporting the statements made by the Group of 77 and the African Group, described the initiatives of his Government in support of youth in a wide range of sectors, including education, health, social inclusion, support for marriage and support for young people with disabilities. In all these areas, Sudan was willing to share its experience with other States. Many obstacles were keeping young people from realizing their potentials, including international crises. He called for the recognition of African efforts to empower youth, which have worked to increase the benefits of youth from globalization. He hoped that the International Year of Youth and the current meeting would help to empower youth around the world, particularly those that suffered from conflict and occupation.
MARINA IVANOVIĆ (Serbia) said that young people must be included in all walks of life in a coherent and consistent way. “Leaders for tomorrow must be created today”. In her country, the National Youth Strategy aimed to give young people an opportunity to contribute their ideas for their own empowerment. Youth programmes had been disseminated to the local level as well. Young people had been consulted on policies concerning them, the Ministry of Youth and Sport had fostered partnerships with the civil sector and more opportunities were created to participate in sports and recreation. Volunteerism was encouraged and scholarships and awards were available to talented youth in many areas, with funding for other initiatives that could help prevent talented youth from leaving the country. She called for greater international cooperation to arrive at the most effective institutional models for youth development.
AHMAD ZAHIR FAQIRI (Afghanistan) described the great challenges facing Afghan youth, particularly lack of schooling, safety and security and health care, as well as unemployment, all of which left them at risk of recruitment by terrorist organizations. Much progress had been made, however, in enrolling students in schools, particularly girls. Access to health care had also increased. He thanked the international community for its assistance in those areas. Noting that the Afghan Parliament had heavy representation of youth, he said that youth policies were being implemented to allow young people to achieve their aspirations. Having experienced conflict and exile, youth in his country must now be empowered with alternative opportunities. Their fresh perspectives, energy, enthusiasm and determination must be channelled for promoting peace and development.
ARCHBISHOP FRANCIS ASSISI CHULLIKATT, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, said young people were the future of humanity and had a crucial role to play in its future as they entered adulthood. To do so responsibly, they needed a proper education that enabled them to distinguish between right and wrong, virtue and vice. Every child should grow up in a family environment, which would promote responsible citizenship. It was where young people first learned moral responsibility and respect for others. Mothers and fathers had the primary duty for raising children, and parents should not withdraw from that role. States were called on to respect parents rights and responsibilities in that regard. The rights of children and young people must be safeguarded and upheld in full conformity with the norms of the natural moral order. Youth were entitled to receive from previous generations solid reference points to help them make choices. The Madrid World Youth Day 2011 would provide young people with the opportunity to foster the spiritual dimension of their lives.
RIYAD H. MANSOUR, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, said Palestinian youth faced the greatest obstacle to normal life, as for more than four decades, crimes had been committed against them with total impunity. Israel’s refusal to uphold the principles of international law had led to a deteriorated situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. Despite that, Palestinian youth continued to reach for their dreams, including in Gaza, where last week, disabled youth broke the Guinness world record for the largest handprint painting. With that, he called for taking all necessary efforts to address the obstacles faced by Palestinian youth living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.
MATTHEW WADE, International Organization for Migration (IOM), said that in most of the world, youth were not only the future, but were the majority of the population. In the last quarter century, the number of international migrants had doubled to 214 million people, half of whom were under the age of 29. Youth migration had a huge potential to reduce unemployment. According to the World Bank, if rich countries were to admit enough migrants from poor countries to expand their labour forces by 3 per cent, the world would be richer by $356 billion a year. Rarely had the aspiration for democracy been more powerfully demonstrated than during the youth-led movements of the Arab Spring, and it was now the global community’s duty to translate that energy into reforms that promoted social integration.
SHIREENE MCMILLAN, Commonwealth Secretariat, said implementation of the recommendations in the outcome document would make the International Year of Youth a lasting success. It was time to work for greater economic empowerment, where banks could help youth gain access to credit and support youth development planning. With that in mind, she encouraged Governments and youth leaders to do more to bring young people into local and national decision-making. For its part, the Commonwealth had listened to its youth, Governments and stakeholders, and at a the Youth Leaders’ Conference held last year in India, leaders had been encouraged to mainstream youth and invest more in their development.
SIDATI OULD CHEIKH ( Mauritania) said that youth was the cornerstone of all of society. Mauritania had affirmed and reaffirmed that the future of any group lay in its youth, and had enacted a five-year national policy for youth, recreation and sports. That policy would be funded by over $230 million, and the country intended to integrate the 40 per cent of its population that were youth into the Mauritanian development framework and build youth networks into the national policies. Additionally, Mauritania had signed and ratified all international agreements related to youth. Despite progress made in educational enrolment, more remained to be done, and a new State department had been created to that end. Wide-ranging reforms had been implemented for youth with special needs. Mauritania was suffering from high levels of unemployment, and working hard to counter it.
SETHURAMIAH L. RAO, observer for Partners in Population and Development, said the organization was committed to development by supporting, in its partner countries, the Conference on Population and Development, the World Programme of Action on Youth, among other initiatives. The world population would continue to increase to more than 9 billion by 2050. Presently, more than 3 billion people were under the age of 25, with some 90 per cent living in developing countries. While sincere efforts had been made in the past to implement the World Programme of Action on Youth, results had been extremely uneven and many challenges — in areas such as health, violence, lack of participation, and others — remained. As the outcome document made clear, it was critical to give attention to overall development challenges that hindered youth development. Building national capacity to support that process was most crucial, and the international community should support the least developed countries in that respect.
GONZALO GUTIÉRREZ ( Peru) said the country had set up a Youth Secretariat nine years ago to institute policies to foster the comprehensive development of young people. It had instituted cross-cutting policies, which had had a positive impact on public life. Poverty among youth, from 2004 to 2008, had declined from 43 per cent to 31 per cent. More young people were now involved in politics; 1,665 had been elected to public office. Much remained to be done to bring about their inclusive development. Government efforts had led to sustained economic growth in the last decade, which had positively impacted young citizens. The Government had developed social investment policies focused on youth. Peru would remain committed to youth policies and to formulating action programmes for youth.
Statements in High-Level Meeting on Conference on Disarmament
RAZA BASHIR TARAR (Pakistan), aligning his statement with that made yesterday by the delegate of Egypt on behalf of the non-aligned movement, said that efforts to revitalize the work of the international disarmament machinery was an opportunity for analysis of that machinery, which should not be lost in the pursuit of negotiating a particular treaty. The challenges facing it went beyond the Conference on Disarmament, he stressed, adding that — as its many components were interlinked — their revitalization, therefore, should be simultaneous and proceed in an integrated and holistic manner.
When articulating his five-point proposal for Nuclear Disarmament in 2008, he recalled, the Secretary-General had suggested, as a first step, that nuclear-weapon States fulfil their obligations under the Nuclear-Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The Conference on Disarmament had not been able to live up to its “raison d’être”, namely, nuclear disarmament, for more than three decades, and had failed to make any substantive progress for 15 years after concluding the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). “Ironically, the vociferous condemnation of the present stalemate is being championed by the very countries which were either themselves responsible for decades of CD’s inactivity or were notably silent.”
The work of the Conference or its inactivity was a reflection of prevailing political realities as it did not operate in a vacuum, he said. Moreover, no treaty could be negotiated in the Conference that was contrary to the security interests of any of its member States. The Conference’s lack of progress could not be attributed to its rules of procedure, since landmark instruments such as the Chemical Weapons Convention or CTBT had been negotiated successfully under the same rules.
“The problems faced by the Conference on Disarmament are not of an organizational or procedural nature,” he stressed, adding that the true reasons for its “dysfunctional” nature was owing to “a clear pattern of negotiating only those agreements that do not undermine or compromise the security interest of powerful States”. He cited as examples, the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions, and CTBT. The same could be said of a fissile material cut-off treaty. Now, after having developed “huge stockpiles of nuclear weapons, as well as stocks of fissile material”, which could be converted quickly into nuclear warheads, those major Powers “are ready to conclude a treaty that will only ban future production of fissile material, since they no longer need more of it”.
“This approach”, he stressed, was “cost free” for them as it would not undermine or compromise their security. Additionally, the discriminatory policies pursued by the major Powers regarding nuclear cooperation had created insecurities and imbalances. Regrettably, those policies continued and had found no opposition.
For those reasons, Pakistan was compelled to “take a stand” against nuclear selectivity and discrimination. “No country can be expected to compromise on its fundamental security interests for an instrument that is cost-free for all other concerned countries,” he said, recommending several steps that must be taken in order to create an “honest and objective approach” to revitalizing the disarmament machinery. Those included, among other, consideration of several critical issues by the Conference in an equal and balanced manner, with nuclear disarmament at the top of that agenda, and elaboration on a legally binding instrument on negative security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon States.
“The Conference on Disarmament cannot negotiate through cherry-picking issues that some States consider ripe,” he said, adding “double-standard selectivity will have to be eliminated in non-proliferation and disarmament issues”. He struck a “note of caution” against taking negotiations for a fissile material cut-off treaty outside the Conference and stated: “ Pakistan will not join any such process nor would it consider accession to the outcome of any such process”. It should be borne in mind that taking those negotiations elsewhere would create a precedent for a similar “modus operandi” on other agenda items, such as nuclear disarmament and negative security assurances.
MOURAD BENMEHIDI ( Algeria), also aligning his statement with that made yesterday by the delegate of Egypt on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the lengthy deadlock in the Conference was the source, beyond question, of real concern. The stalemate could not be blamed on any inherent shortcomings of the body, or on its agenda. Some were of the view that it was due to the rigidity of the rules of procedure. It was true that the consensus rule needed to protect the security of all countries equally and not just that of the strongest.
Regarding the Conference’s agenda, he said nuclear weapons still represented the greatest threat to mankind, and the contributions of the Conference had been great, in the context of the Chemical Weapons Convention and CTBT. Understanding the deadlock lay in comprehending the evolution of political problems outside the Conference. The lack of political will to build consensus was at the origin of the stalemate, so there would be no progress if Member States did not show greater political will to work together, instead of threatening to condemn the Conference to marginalization. Going outside of it would be harmful to the attainment of the goals of complete nuclear disarmament. “The GA must not strip the CD of its prerogatives,” he added, suggesting the convening of a fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament.
KAZUO KODAMA ( Japan) said further stagnation of the Conference could not be permitted. It must begin immediately substantive work on its core agenda and advance nuclear disarmament, a fissile material cut-off treaty, negative security assurances and prevention of an arms race in outer space. It had been nearly one year since the high-level meeting last September on revitalizing the Conference’s work, in which a “political consensus” had been achieved. However, since then, it had not been possible to seize the opportunity afforded by such consensus. As the anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki once again approached, and the endurance of Japan’s citizens approached its limits, further stagnation could not be permitted.
If the Conference was unable to break the deadlock, he said, appropriate alternatives must be considered, such as making greater use of the General Assembly. In that regard, he regretted that “uncooperative action” on the part of one country had prevented the Conference from carrying out its work in advancing nuclear disarmament. The current state of affairs also called into question the current form of the Conference. Today’s follow-up meeting and the upcoming session of the General Assembly, in particular the First Committee, were important opportunities to advance nuclear disarmament and revitalize the Conference and the disarmament machinery overall. Japan attached great importance to the early launch of negotiations on a fissile material ban, he added.
JOÃO MARIA CABRAL (Portugal), speaking on behalf of the Informal Group of Observer States to the Conference on Disarmament, said that expanding the Conference was long overdue, as it had not been enlarged since 1999. Its rules of procedure stated that its membership would be reviewed “at regular intervals”, which had hardly been the case. Moreover, the current membership was not compatible with today’s realities and not sustainable. The Conference should become more open and inclusive and should urgently and seriously consider inviting more countries to join. “In our view, enlargement is an asset, not a liability,” he said, adding that it “represents a new opportunity, a fresh start”. The fact that many countries were interested in joining was a clear, powerful political statement in favour of its continued relevance. He reiterated the Informal Group’s call for the early nomination of a special rapporteur to review the membership issue, and emphasized that many Member States and regional groups had expressed strong support for expansion.
HAIM WAXMAN ( Israel) said he did not support the call to replace the Conference with another body. Indisputably, the Conference needed to be updated and given a clear vision that would allow it to overcome the current stalemate. But, its revitalization must take place from within. Its rules of procedure were well suited for the complexity and sensitivity of the issues on its agenda, and they reflected the need to protect vital security interests and to give negotiating States the comfort level they needed. To date, in the conventional sphere, independent processes had not been able to attract into their fold the most relevant countries, whose participation in the new legal arrangement would make the most significant changes on the ground. The Cluster Munitions Convention was a case in point. It had more than 100 signatories, but 90 per cent of cluster munitions’ arsenals remained outside the treaty. Relevant States were simply seeking solutions elsewhere. An agreed formula was needed that recognized the continued validity of the Conference’s four core issues, and that steered it in a pragmatic direction. Under its agenda item 7, on transparency in armaments, many important issues could be addressed, notably negotiating a ban on the transfer of armaments or man-portable air defence systems to terrorists.
“A poor workman blames his tools,” said ESHAGH AL HABIB ( Iran), aligning his statement with that delivered by the representative of Egypt on behalf of the non-Aligned Movement. The Conference on Disarmament had perfectly proven its efficiency and the effectiveness of its rules of procedure. Although there were continued attempts to conceal the political nature of its inactivity by blaming its tools, what appeared to be procedural problems were actually political ones. He stressed the need to “inject political will into this important and irreplaceable forum”, and added that work to revitalize it should be transparent, fair and Member State-driven, with the ultimate goal of enhancing its work while preserving its nature, role and power.
He said that an analysis of the Conference should be cautious not to rely on prejudices, pessimism or distrustful emotional judgements. The Conference could not be promoted by changing the format of its rules of procedure. As in the past, consensus was the only way to develop treaties; during the last decades, the Conference had been inactive because of the unwillingness of some States to take the interests of others into account in a balanced manner. Additionally, some considered the Conference to be a “single-issue venue” and were not willing to consider the importance of other items. Nuclear disarmament had been identified as the highest priority in disarmament, but because of the reluctance of some States, the Conference had been unable to negotiate a treaty on negative assurances for non-nuclear-weapon States. There was no alternative to the Conference. The best way to address its challenges was to “cross the stream where it is shallowest”.
ANNE ANDERSON (Ireland), aligning with the statement of the European Union and that of the Netherlands on behalf of like-minded States, said her country’s approach to disarmament was rooted in the belief that multilateral cooperation was in the interest of all, and most especially served the interests of smaller States, which relied on a strong rules-based system. The Conference had not undertaken any meaningful work since Ireland had joined it in 1999, and her Government was ready to engage in negotiations on any or all of the four core issues on its agenda.
She said that the consensus rule had never been envisaged as a way to allow one State to frustrate the desire of the majority to engage in talks on an issue, adding that national concerns could be accommodated in the course of negotiations. Disarmament could be facilitated by concluding an appropriate treaty on fissile material, and a universal, legally binding agreement on negative security assurances. The prevention of an arms race in outer space also deserved urgent attention. The way in which the Conference organized itself had contributed to its paralysis. Requiring consensus – even to begin negotiations – was conducive to deadlock, as was the interpretation of the requirement to adopt annually a programme of work as necessitating the inclusion of complex negotiating mandates. While the recommendations of the Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters could help break the impasse, the main duty to devise and implement solutions rested with States.
JOSÉ LUIS CANCELA ( Uruguay) said it was imperative to find fast, effective solutions to re-launch the work of the Conference, and he presented three proposals to that end. Taking advantage of the current return to moderate multilateralism, the Conference should start negotiating without delay a non-discriminatory and internationally verifiable treaty for prohibiting the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons manufacture. He also urged the start of talks on a legally binding agreement on negative security assurances, and on a new effective, verifiable instrument to prevent an arms race in outer space, including the deployment of weapons. He called for expanding the Conference’s membership to those States that had expressed legitimate interest in joining and, to that end, he proposed the appointment of a Special Coordinator to study the possibility. If the Conference was incapable of overcoming the current impasse, the Assembly, in line with its Charter mandate, might make recommendations on disarmament and armament regulation.
İSMAIL ÇOBANOĞLU ( Turkey) said revitalization of the Conference on Disarmament should occur internally. Existing problems were not limited to the Conference; they covered the multilateral disarmament machinery as a whole. They could be comprehensively overcome only through political will and flexibility by all. Any discussion on the Conference on Disarmament’s working methods should take into account the fact that the rule of consensus was an essential tool in international security. All countries needed it from time to time in order to safeguard their legitimate security interests, and the practice had no alternative. Enlargement of the Conference was not a priority, as he felt the present impasse had nothing to do with the Conference’s composition. Any discussion on expansion should address the question of potential contributions of aspiring members.
RAYKO RAYTCHEV (Bulgaria) aligning himself with the statements of the European Union and the Netherlands, said that, while the high-level meeting held in September 2010 had failed to stimulate action in the Conference, all agreed that the impasse could not, and should not, perpetuate. Ironically, the work of the Conference should be more relevant now than ever, and the international community should be more convinced of the importance of multilateralism now than ever.
However, he said, blame for the Conference on Disarmament’s failures could not be placed externally. “The responsibility lies with us, its members,” he said, adding that “change should come from within”. The world was now interconnected, and its new realities required new approaches; if the Conference did not adapt to the world’s new, fast-paced dynamics, it would become irrelevant. Furthermore, it would risk pushing the international community to explore other venues for continuing its work. Two main goals must now be achieved: first, the adoption of a programme of work, and second, the start of negotiations on a fissile material ban, without delay. Enlarging the Conference, as well as engaging more with civil society, would bring new energy and new ideas, and would go a long way towards adapting to the new world order.
LIBRAN N. CABACTULAN ( Philippines) aligned his statement with those of the Non-Aligned Movement and Informal Group of Observer States to the Conference, as well as with that made by the Netherlands. Multilateral diplomacy was the best way to advance the issues of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, he emphasized. The impasse was untenable; additional definite actions must be taken if no resolution was reached. In view of the rule of consensus, which vested in every member a “veto-like power”, a top-down approach should be taken to replace the bottom-up approach. He favoured expanded membership, which would allow those observers to act on their legitimate demands for membership. The key, however, was to begin negotiations as soon as possible. The Philippines called for a fourth special session on disarmament, which could result in something more tangible and concrete than the reporting that had come out of previous meetings. Should work remain in the Conference, he asked, or “do we dare to go beyond” in seeking alternative means for recourse? Should its members set up a parallel process to the Conference? Should they set up groups to study what must be done? Or perhaps give the General Assembly a more central and active role in disarmament?
“We must make a choice, and follow through sooner, rather than later,” he stressed. If the Conference did not choose a course of action, it risked devastating and horrific effects.
MANJEEV SINGH PURI (India), sharing disappointment at the continuing impasse in the Conference, nevertheless said the meeting should send a strong message of support for the body as the single multilateral negotiating forum, while also providing political impetus to the early commencement of negotiations on a fissile material treaty and other matters on the multilateral agenda. If adopting a programme of work similar to that agreed in 2009 would facilitate early work on substantive matters, India would not stand in the way, without prejudice to the priority it attached to global, non-discriminatory, verifiable nuclear disarmament through a step-by-step process underwritten by universal commitment. Supporting the current rules of procedure in the Conference, he said it was up to Member States to make it work; proposing alternatives would not be useful in producing agreements that could be implemented universally.
BYRGANYM AITIMOVA ( Kazakhstan) said that as a member of the Conference, Kazakhstan attached great importance to that forum. An early start of negotiations on a non-discriminatory and internationally verifiable fissile material cut-off treaty was critical to keeping illegitimate military nuclear programmes to a minimum. She also called for the strict observance of peaceful activities in outer space and urged the Conference to consider that issue in its work agenda. President Nursultan Nazarbayev had called for the drafting of a legally binding instrument on negative security assurances and the next step should be the drafting of a universal declaration of a nuclear-weapon-free world, which would reaffirm States’ determination to move towards a convention on that issue. In sum, she urged the Assembly to consider ways to review the Conference’s mandate, membership, structure and work procedures, saying that the consensus principle also must be reconsidered to make the Conference a strong entity. The Conference’s work should begin with a relevant work agenda. Kazakhstan also fully supported the proposal to appoint a high-level panel of eminent persons to seek ways to strengthen the disarmament machinery.
MASUD HUSAIN ( Canada) stressed the need to reform the methodology for selecting the leadership of the Conference, whose membership should be a privilege. One of the world’s worst offenders should not serve as President. So far, this year’s members had discussed the four core agenda items. But the Conference’s mandate was to negotiate, and not simply to discuss. Canada would aim to renew that work in August after North Korea was no longer the President. In light of the continued stalemate, efforts to follow up on last September’s meeting must be pursued in earnest. The Assembly’s sixty-sixth session should consider how the Conference’s work should be pursued. Members should think outside the box. A fissile material cut-off treaty was Canada’s top priority as the next disarmament instrument, and he would like to see those negotiations commence soon in the Conference, but one country was blocking them. Starting an external negotiating process was not a reflection of the Conference’s failure, but could be a necessary alternative. With many nuclear-weapon States declaring moratoriums on fissile material production for nuclear weapons, now was the time to start negotiations. Canada had no preference as to the modalities and place, nor was it opposed to convening a fourth special session on disarmament.
RI TONG IL (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) interrupted the representative of Canada on a point of order. He objected to the fact that the Canadian representative had referred to his nation as “ North Korea” instead of by its official name. He asked the Assembly President to settle that question.
LE HOAI TRUNG ( Viet Nam) said that, while several positive developments had emerged in the field of disarmament over the past year, conflicts and instability had erupted in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. The danger of an arms race had also increased. In that context, the lack of progress in the Conference was regrettable, and it had undermined confidence in multilateral disarmament forums, in general. Nuclear disarmament remained the priority issue, leading to the total elimination of nuclear weapons, and he asked nuclear-weapon States to take concrete actions in that regard. The central role of the process of disarmament and non-proliferation and arms control by the United Nations should be upheld, and negotiations should be aimed at strengthening peace and international security and achieving the ultimate goal of the elimination of the danger of nuclear war. Viet Nam had actively supported those goals by acceding to all major related treaties and by working with member States of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other partners in the implementation of the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in South-East Asia.
CLAUDE HELLER ( Mexico), aligning himself with the statements of the Netherlands and Australia, welcomed the action taken by the Secretary-General to promote multilateral disarmament negotiations. The 2010 high-level meeting on the Conference had revealed divergent views on the problems facing the international disarmament machinery, but had also showed the clear interest of all parties to achieve progress. It was unacceptable that the forum dedicated to safeguarding peace and security had failed to fulfil its mandate or make substantive progress in more than a decade. Clearly, the working methods of the Conference, as well as its limited membership and lack of engagement with civil society, were designed for different times. The rule of consensus also robbed the international community of achieving the goals by giving all Member States a veto power. The Conference had a duty to negotiate, and its lack of action was of great concern, not only to its members, but to all United Nations Member States, including the 128 States that did not belong to the Conference. Continuation of the impasse would make it logical for the General Assembly to adopt measures to take over the body that no longer fulfilled its mandate; Mexico stood ready to support such a step or any other that might break the deadlock and help the Conference move forward.
OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ (Chile) joined the statements made by Egypt and Australia, as well as the Netherlands, and said that the five-point plan and the High-Level Meeting showed a high degree of political responsibility. It was not possible to continue to analyse the causes of the paralysis of the Conference, when the international community’s interest lay in progress and action. After more than 10 wasted years, the Conference had reached a “breaking point”; changes required a broad political commitment and should evolve in a way in which countries felt that they had a real role in shaping the disarmament framework. Alternatives should be sought to satisfy those interests. Chile urged members to consider a document submitted by Colombia to that effect.
He said that the subsidiary bodies of the United Nations were not an end in themselves, but were in place to achieve progress on various issues. Consensus was important, but must not be abused. Additionally, bridges must be built to civil society, which, among other changes, must be part and parcel of any negotiating package. Chile did not wish to replace the Conference; however, it would be open to examining alternatives. In that respect, the General Assembly might be granted the right to take action on matters regarding the Conference.
SANJA ŠTIGLIC ( Slovenia) said the current stalemate clearly demonstrated the need to comprehensively reform existing international disarmament machinery. The Conference on Disarmament must be adapted to contemporary realities and opened to all interested nations that wanted to contribute to international peace and security. New members would enrich its work and help it overcome the present impasse. The Conference should begin negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty without further delay. Such an instrument would effectively complement the NPT and CTBT, and guide the international community towards a nuclear-weapon-free world. The role of the Disarmament Commission should also be reconsidered. The reform should be comprehensive and effective and should also redefine the role of the First Committee. She expected serious negotiations to begin at the next Assembly session on how to implement the high-level meeting process begun last September.
SAIFUL AZAM MARTINUS ABDULLAH ( Malaysia) said the Conference on Disarmament could not remain forever deadlocked. It was necessary to set priorities straight and concentrate all efforts on achieving them. He stressed the need to fully eliminate nuclear weapons by adopting a nuclear weapons convention. The Conference must commence substantive work at the earliest to enable further progress in disarmament and non-proliferation. He supported the holding of a fourth special session of the Assembly devoted to disarmament, which could be instrumental in moving forward the disarmament agenda. Another alternative could be the creation of an eminent persons group to review the effectiveness of each organ and make recommendations on how to revitalize the United Nations disarmament machinery. He also supported expansion of the Conference and giving civil society the chance to follow its proceedings in a meaningful way.
FERNANDO FERNÁNDEZ-ARIAS MINUESA ( Spain) joined with the statement delivered by the delegate of the European Union, and recalled that the analysis of the Conference on Disarmament had led to the firm commitment of the Secretary-General to revitalize that body. However, efforts to jump-start it had, to date, been fruitless. As the disarmament agenda continued to progress in other forums, even a working programme could not be agreed in the Conference.
“The Conference on Disarmament does not produce, but it works,” he said, adding that it was appropriate to ask whether the body’s many meetings should continue, given that they did not lead to any tangible outcomes. It was not initiatives which were lacking, but the consensus to carry them through. Spain, along with other States, had presented a Joint Reflection Paper on the Conference. It would be a mistake to display “infinite patience”, he said; the task at hand was far too urgent. He drew attention to calls made by the European Union that the First Committee review its working methods; that States that had nuclear arms should maintain a moratorium on fissile material; and that the Conference should begin negotiations on a fissile material ban, without delay. “We must be bold and realistic” in moving forward with any reforms, he said.
MOHAMMAD SARWAR MAHMOOD ( Bangladesh) associated his statement with that of the non-aligned movement, and offered some thoughts in his national capacity. Recent bilateral progress had been positive, but insufficient. Bangladesh was committed to the pursuit of universal adherence to the NPT and CTBT; it had opted to remain non-nuclear by choice, as its Government firmly believed that any use of nuclear weapons would constitute an international crime against humanity. It also held that only the total elimination of nuclear weapons could offer complete security against the threat of nuclear war.
At the same time, he said, peaceful use of nuclear technology under the guidance of the International Atomic Energy Agency could help to further many development goals, including the elimination of poverty. Trade barriers on nuclear materials for such uses, therefore, should be removed. The $1.5 trillion that was currently spent each year on armaments was unconscionable, when countries such as Bangladesh continued to struggle. Despite the many challenges facing the international community in the field of disarmament, he said, “we have not lost faith in ourselves”. Difficulties should not dissuade Member States from continuing to pursue a nuclear-weapon-free world.
JANNE TAALAS ( Finland) said that strong political will was urgently needed to restart multilateral disarmament negotiations. Negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty in the Conference must also begin, as they were essential to non-proliferation efforts. Outlining steps for revitalizing the United Nations disarmament machinery, he said the working methods of the Conference, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) and the Disarmament Commission should be reviewed, as there was a need for more substantial discussion and less on procedure. Reviewing the Conference’s membership was also warranted to ensure the participation of all relevant players in negotiations. Fresh ideas and better connection to the “realities” outside United Nations meeting rooms were needed. As such, the voice of both civil society and academia should be strengthened. In sum, Finland was committed to doing its utmost to advance multilateral disarmament talks during its chairmanship of the First Committee.
DIRE TLADI ( South Africa) regretted that the Conference, for many years now, had failed to fulfil its basic mandate. As a result of the continuing deadlock, many had understandably started to question its relevance and continued value in the pursuance of disarmament goals, especially since the dawn of a new security environment following the end of the cold war. Unfortunately, the Disarmament Commission was not fulfilling its mandate either, and again this year had failed to produce any concrete recommendations.
He said that nuclear disarmament remained the country’s highest priority. The lack of continuous, irreversible progress towards nuclear disarmament had weakened the global non-proliferation regime, and he reiterated his call on the Conference to immediately set up a subsidiary body to deal with the issue. He also expressed support for the launch of negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. But such an instrument was not the only item ripe for negotiations; the Conference was able to negotiate any issue on its agenda. He did not agree that the lack of concrete results was due to its rules of procedure. Rather, the resistance by some to pursue in good faith and to bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament, in all its aspects under strict and effective international control, was a larger obstacle. If the Conference continued to fail to execute its mandate, there would be no reason not to consider other options, he warned, stressing, however, that South Africa was committed to a rules-based international system.
Right of Reply
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, responding to the statement made by Canada’s delegate, said it was the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s sovereign right to serve as President of the Conference on Disarmament. Under its rules of procedure, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was obliged to fulfil its role as President. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was a United Nations Member State. The Canadian delegate’s remarks were a serious violation of relevant provisions in the Charter. That was not the first time the Canadian delegate had boycotted an international forum. In 2001, Canada was the only country to boycott the anti-racism conference held in Durban. That move had established a practice of boycotting. He strongly condemned Canada’s behaviour. During the post-cold war period, instead of following a path of dialogue and reconciliation, Canada had chosen confrontation.
* *** *