Dysfunction in United Nations Disarmament Machinery Has ‘Insidious Effect’ of Stopping People from Listening to Each Other, First Committee Told

GA/DIS/3505
17 October 2014
Sixty-ninth session, 10th Meeting (PM)

Dysfunction in United Nations Disarmament Machinery Has ‘Insidious Effect’ of Stopping People from Listening to Each Other, First Committee Told

The inability of the disarmament machinery to function had the “insidious effect” of stopping people from listening to each other, heard members of the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) during its thematic debate on the United Nations disarmament machinery.

If the work of those forums was subverted by geopolitical power struggles, the security of all would be threatened, warned the representative of Canada.

Pointing to discussions in the Conference on Disarmament on banning the production of fissile material, she said those exchanges had demonstrated that negotiations on a treaty should be within reach.  Unfortunately, that was not the conclusion reached by all States.  Framing the question of scope as an overly simplistic choice between an “all stocks” and a “no stocks” option was unnecessary and unhelpful, and had compromised negotiations, she said.

The representative of Ecuador said either the international community could proceed with “improvised initiatives” that added uncertainty and mistrust, or try to correct the problem as a whole.  The proposals presented through drafts or other mechanisms, either in a “murky” or open way, tried to transfer the purposes of the Conference on Disarmament onto others.  The results were often incomplete, biased or lacking in certainty.

The current machinery risked remaining “frozen in time” forever, he warned, stressing that while the international community needed to be imaginative when tackling issues related to disarmament, it also needed to be brave.

Recognizing its unique responsibilities as a nuclear-weapon State, the representative of the United Kingdom said that the lack of movement in the disarmament machinery had not been used by his country as an excuse to stop taking steps towards disarmament.  His country remained committed to the goal of a world without nuclear weapons and had reduced its holdings.

The representative of France made the point that “parallel initiatives” in the area of disarmament were incompatible with the Action Plan of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and could undermine it.  France was committed to the Conference on Disarmament for the three characteristics that made it irreplaceable:  expertise, participation, and consensus.  Importantly, the Conference had made substantial progress on each of the four core issues, which confirmed that a fissile material cut-off treaty was ripe, he added. 

Agreeing that questions of disarmament should not be delegated to other entities, the representative of the Russian Federation said the issues required compromise and flexibility, as they touched on the national security of States.  There were no other entities at present, he said, to address those questions.

In a joint statement with 20 countries, the representative of the Russian Federation said that tangible progress in multilateral disarmament could only be achieved within existing mechanisms.  As the single multilateral negotiating forum, the Conference could not be substituted by any other forum.

The representative of China said that the stalemate in the Conference was the result of a lack of political will, and not its structure.  On that point, he said the principle of consensus should be preserved in disarmament matters.  That view was echoed by Turkey’s delegate, who said the problems that hampered progress in the Conference were not created by its procedures or internal dynamics.

Sharing the perspective of a non-Conference member, the representative of Slovenia said that the issue of enlarging that body must be urgently addressed.  In his country’s view, new members would enrich the work of the Conference and contribute new ideas for its proceedings, he said.

Similarly, the representative of Portugal noted that the Conference had not produced any decision regarding the enlargement of its membership in the past 15 years.  That, he said, was unacceptable.

The representatives of Malaysia, Nepal and Peru introduced three draft resolutions on, respectively, the Report of the Conference on Disarmament, and the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific, and the Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Also speaking were the representatives of Indonesia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Egypt on behalf of the Arab Group, Suriname on behalf of the Union of South American Nations, Slovenia, Kuwait, Iraq, Netherlands, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Cuba, South Africa, Spain, Senegal, Switzerland, Cameroon, Algeria, Republic of Korea, Czech Republic and Ethiopia.

The Committee will meet next at 10 a.m. on Monday, 20 October, when it will convene a thematic debate on nuclear weapons.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to continue its thematic discussion on disarmament machinery.  For more background, see Press Release GA/DIS/3497.

Statements

DESRA PERCAYA (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed concern over the erosion of multilateralism in the field of disarmament and arms control, and called on the Conference on Disarmament to agree on a balanced programme of work.  He encouraged all States to demonstrate the necessary political will for the Conference to fulfil its mandate.  To provide fresh impetus, he called for urgent work on a comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons that prevented their acquisition, transfer, use or threat of use and provided for their destruction.  He expressed regret that the United Nations Disarmament Commission, in addition, had not been able to make any progress since 2000 due to what he said was a lack of political will from some nuclear weapon States.

Looking towards the next cycle of the Conference, he called upon Member States to exercise political will to agree on substantive outcomes.  The Movement stood ready to engage constructively on the disarmament agenda, and it supported the convening of a special session of the General Assembly to address the issues.  It was essential to ensure that the disarmament machinery would once again unleash its potential to advance peace and security for the entire world in the not too distant future.

AMR FATHI ALJOWAILY (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Group of Arab States, and supporting the statement by the Non-Aligned Movement, welcomed the efforts of the Conference on Disarmament in 2014 under the Iraqi presidency.  The Conference should be the unique platform for discussing issues of disarmament; the fact that there was insufficient political will among Member States was a significant problem.  As the fissile material cut-off treaty was part of the global disarmament agenda, it must address the issue of stockpiling.  Expressing disappointment that no agreements had been reached by the Conference in past years, he underlined the need for consensus-building.  The Group of Arab States had shown political will and flexibility towards that purpose.  The Group hoped that more progress, taking into account the concerns of all States, would be achieved in the next sessions.

NICOLE HEW A KEE (Suriname), on behalf of the Union of South American Nations, said that efforts by the international community to promote peace and security were essential to a strong multilateral mechanism in the United Nations for disarmament and non-proliferation.  The Union believed that any attempt to reform the multilateral disarmament machinery should be done in a comprehensive manner.  She was deeply concerned at the failure of Member States in the Conference to accomplish an agreement on a programme of work, and she urged members to show the necessary political will to start negotiations.

She called on the Conference to establish an ad hoc committee to start negotiations on a nuclear-weapon convention.  Another interim measure would be the negotiation of a multilateral and non-discriminatory treaty banning fissile material for nuclear weapons.  She noted with concern the possibility of an arms race in outer space and reaffirmed the need for a legal instrument in that field.  The Union also regretted the lack of progress in the Disarmament Commission on nuclear disarmament, as well as on confidence-building measures.  She urged Member States to exhort all efforts to allow the United Nations to make substantive disarmament recommendations.  Finally, the Union highlighted the work of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR).

JEAN-HUGUES SIMON-MICHEL (France), associating with the European Union, said he was committed to multilateral disarmament through a step-by-step approach.  He was concerned about parallel initiatives in the area of nuclear disarmament, which were incompatible with the 2010 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) Action Plan and could risk undermining it.  France was committed to the Conference on Disarmament.  Three characteristics made it irreplaceable:  expertise, participation of all States with key capabilities, and consensus.  The Conference had made substantial progress on each of the four core issues, which confirmed that a fissile material cut-off treaty was ripe.  The aim remained to begin negotiations in accordance with the priority set out by “action 15” of the NPT Action Plan.  He was looking forward to the report of the Group of Governmental Experts, which would contain essential elements to facilitate negotiations on a fissile material ban at the Conference.  He also highlighted the importance of the work done by UNIDIR and the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs.  Despite an unfavourable international context, disarmament and arms control had made progress in 2014, with the Arms Trade Treaty, consideration of lethal autonomous weapons systems, and the successful Maputo Review Conference of the Mine-Ban Convention.

VLADIMIR YERMAKOV (Russian Federation), speaking in his national capacity, said that it would be logical to examine the reasons behind the impasse, particularly in the Conference on Disarmament and the Disarmament Commission.  His delegation was of the view that the primary reason was the inefficiency of the work of the Member States and their delegations.  Disarmament required compromise and flexibility, as it touched upon the national security of States, and there were no other entities at present to address those questions, he said, underlining that the actual architecture of the Conference had been accepted by all.  Thus, questions of disarmament could not be delegated to other entities.

The primary objective today, he went on, was to re-energise the mechanisms by presenting new ideas and reaching for consensus. Member States could and should contribution towards that goal, including by adopting, without vote, the resolution on the Report of the Conference on Disarmament.

He also delivered a joint statement with Argentina, Armenia, Bangladesh, Belarus, China, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Myanmar, Pakistan, Syria, Tajikistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zimbabwe and Nicaragua.  He reaffirmed the group’s commitment to resume negotiations in the Conference without further delay.  Tangible progress in multilateral disarmament and in strengthening international arms control and non-proliferation regimes could only be achieved within the framework of the existing multilateral disarmament mechanisms, taking into due account the national security priorities of Member States.  The Conference, as the single multilateral negotiating forum, and with its fundamental principle of consensus and its membership, could not be substituted by any other forum for the purpose of addressing the complex issues on its agenda.  Voicing concern about the lack of progress on reaching consensus on a programme of work, the speaker called on States to demonstrate political will to resume substantive work on the core issues on the Conference agenda, namely nuclear disarmament, a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons, preventing an arms race in outer space, and assurances for non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.  Structured and results-oriented discussion should be encouraged pending adoption of a balanced and comprehensive programme of work.

DATO MAZLAN MUHAMMAD (Malaysia), also speaking in his capacity as the President of the Conference on Disarmament, introduced the draft resolution entitled “Report of the Conference on Disarmament” (document A/C.1/69/L.8).  He hoped it would be adopted without a vote as in the past.  The resolution was a fair and balanced reflection of the report, he said, noting that the focus remained the same as in previous texts, with technical updates.  He regretted, however, that the Conference had been unable to commence its work, but welcomed the decision to establish an informal working group.  He emphasized the importance of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), which represented engagement of civil society with the Conference on Disarmament.  Considering the Conference’s deadlock of more than a decade, the draft called on the body to intensify consultations with a view to the adoption and implementation of a balanced and comprehensive programme of work at the earliest possible date in 2015.

ABDULAZIZ ALAJMI (KUWAIT), associating with the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, renewed his support for multilateralism as the best way to promote the disarmament frameworks aimed at achieving international peace and security.  The Conference on Disarmament must guarantee the continued performance of the tasks entrusted to it.  He was concerned over the “chronic deadlock”, including the non-agreement on its agenda.  He welcomed, however, the proposal to appoint a special rapporteur to enhance the Conference’s membership, as that would enhance progress related to issues on its agenda.  It was nonetheless disappointing that the forum lacked the ability to reach consensus on the substantive issues.

SARMAD MUWAFAQ MOHAMMED AL-TAIE (Iraq), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, said the arms race was a major cause of tension and insecurity and would not lead to peace.  He stressed the importance of the Disarmament Commission, but acknowledged that the inertia overall in the disarmament machinery threatened international stability.  The Commission had not been able to adopt recommendations on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, or on confidence-building measures.  He supported the contents of the principle paper submitted through the informal meeting held last month.  That could break the inertia that had inflicted the work of the Commission since 2000, and would auger well for its resumption.  Iraq attached special importance to the Conference on Disarmament, which had a record of successes.  However, it had been undergoing a critical period for more than 18 years.  Nuclear disarmament should remain among the Conference priorities, as the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons ran counter to international law.

MATEJ MARN (Slovenia), associating with the European Union, said that disarmament machinery was failing to respond to current challenges and was “constantly underperforming”.  Slovenia was also frustrated with the continued impasse in the Conference and regretted that, once again, it had not succeeded in commencing negotiations on international disarmament agreements, thus failing to fulfil its mandate.  The Conference should start negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty as soon as possible, he said, calling on all its Member States to take the necessary decisions.  At the same time, he said enlarging the Conference was “urgent” and called for a decision on that issue as soon as possible.  In Slovenia’s view, new members would enrich the work of the Conference and contribute new ideas for its proceedings, he said.

HENK COR VAN DER KWAST (Netherlands) said a well-functioning disarmament machinery was required to resolutely and coherently deal with global security challenges amid growing public and political interest in disarmament.  The Conference on Disarmament saw some encouraging developments in its 2014 session, but was unable to agree on the resumption of substantive negotiations.  The United Nations Disarmament Commission had concluded another triennial cycle without agreeing to substantive recommendations.  Against that background, the Commission should have a more focused and results-oriented discussion on the agenda items.  Both the Conference and Commission would benefit from contributions of civil society.  He noted that the First Committee had received several draft resolutions rather late, which, he said, limited discussions.  The fact that 95 per cent of Member States — often including co-sponsors — did not provide follow-up reports on resolutions was not acceptable.

WU JIAN JIAN (China) said that the Conference on Disarmament had successfully concluded treaties such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.  The Disarmament Commission also had made great contributions; however, the international community was concerned by the protracted lack of progress in both of those bodies.  The stalemate was caused by a lack of political will, and not by the structure.  The principle of consensus should be preserved in disarmament matters, as those related to the fundamental security issues of all countries.  Abandoning the existing disarmament machinery and creating new forums would not guarantee effectiveness or the universality of outcomes.  The international community should fully acknowledge the implication of international and regional security situations in the disarmament process, increase the level of mutual trust, and accommodate the legitimate security concerns of countries to create a favourable atmosphere for revitalizing the Conference and Commission.  China would continue to make contributions to that process.

ANUAR TANALINOV (Kazakhstan) said that the increasing frustration of the international community over the Conference on Disarmament had been expressed “loud and clear”.  Analysis had shown that nuclear weapons were associated with the security perceptions of many States, whether they possessed those weapons or not.  Any disarmament forum, therefore, must be multilateral, and the Conference was at the heart of that process.  Kazakhstan urged members to make a concerted effort towards progress as a fully functional Conference was fundamental.  Also, the Conference must move beyond the first step of establishing an informal working group to taking action on other proposals, including one to establish a subsidiary organ, which would be critical to facilitating consensus-building.

AIDAS SUNELAITIS (Lithuania), associating with the European Union, reaffirmed the strong attachment to the multilateral approach to non-proliferation and disarmament.  The First Committee, the Conference on Disarmament, the Disarmament Commission and UNIDIR, as well as international treaties and regimes, were essential, mutually reinforcing elements of the United Nations disarmament machinery.  While some progress had been achieved in the Conference, it was disappointing that it had not succeeded in commencing substantive work.  That longstanding impasse had undermined its credibility, he said, noting that negotiations on the Mine-Ban Treaty, the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Arms Trade Treaty had taken place “outside” it.  The need to enlarge the Conference had been pending for more than a decade; it should be addressed without delay.

IVIAN DEL SOL DOMINGUEZ (Cuba) said that her country attached the highest priority to nuclear disarmament, and promoted multilateralism as the basis for those negotiations.  That was, she stressed, the only sustainable way to tackle international peace and security issues.  In that regard, the Conference was the only multilateral platform for negotiating treaties in that area.  While some claimed there were shortcomings in its operations, yet when political will was present, the Conference was capable of negotiating treaties, as in the past.  The Disarmament Commission’s shortcomings were not in the way of its work, as that body had made progress in the past.  Cuba supported the Non-Aligned Movement’s proposal for a comprehensive treaty on nuclear weapons, which she said would be the most effective and efficient path, as the international community must react urgently to the global call to eliminate those weapons.  Cuba supported efforts undertaken to optimize the disarmament machinery.  The lack of specific results was due to a lack of political will, particularly when it came to nuclear weapons.

JOHANN KELLERMAN (South Africa) welcomed advances made in the past year to strengthen the international rule of law in the multilateral disarmament and international security environment.  However, the 18-year stalemate in the Conference was of particular concern.  The heart of the problem lay in the continued resistance by a small number of States to implement their disarmament obligations and to subject themselves to the international rule of law.  At the end of its three-year cycle in April, the Disarmament Commission had only been able to adopt a procedural report; discussions there were mostly long on procedure and short on substance.

With each passing year, he said, it became clearer that the vast majority of Member States were exasperated with the lack of progress on nuclear disarmament.  In October 2013, 125 countries had aligned themselves with a joint statement delivered by New Zealand on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, and more than 145 countries had participated in a conference on that topic in Mexico.  He recognized the important role and contribution of civil society in the field of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control, and hoped that interaction between Governments, civil society and academia would be enhanced.

ANA PEÑA DOIG (Peru) submitted a draft resolution on the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, on behalf of the regional States.  She said that the Lima-based Centre had carried out projects in which it managed to destroy weapons and storage facilities.  It had also made a significant contribution to boosting the role of women in disarmament.  However, the Centre’s work was being conducted with scarce resources.  After recognizing the support from certain Member States and organizations, she called on all to step up contributions to allow the Centre to scale up its efforts.  That would help improve stability in her region to the benefit of all regions.  She counted on universal support for the draft.

GHANA SHYAM LAMSAL (Nepal) said that regional disarmament mechanisms complemented the global agenda.  The United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific, in Kathmandu, was supporting peace and disarmament initiatives in Asia.  Continued regional dialogue among Member States in the region went a long way towards creating and sustaining a conducive environment for disarmament and non-proliferation.  Being a host country to the Centre, Nepal pledged commitment to provide all possible support.  He expressed appreciation to Member States that had contributed to the Centre and was confident that more would lend their support to expand and enrich its activities.  It was in that context that his delegation introduced a draft resolution entitled “United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific”.  He was confident it would be adopted by consensus.

MARIA VICTORIA GONZÁLEZ ROMÁN (Spain), associating with the European Union, stressed that non-proliferation efforts were as important as disarmament efforts.  They were different dimensions of the same process, and collective political will was needed to make progress on both fronts.  He reiterated Spain’s concern over the stalemate in the Conference and noted that the country had been active in discussing its reforms, including options to modulate the consensus rule.  The lack of progress was due to a lack of the political will to move forward decisively.  The Conference’s informal working group should meet next year to achieve its objective, as delayed negotiations on a fissile material ban should be resumed.  All negotiations on nuclear disarmament should involve the active participation of all States with nuclear weapons.  Without them, it was difficult to move forward in securing a nuclear-weapon-free world.  In the current context of a stalemate, all concrete proposals must be addressed with a constructive spirit.  It also must be ensured that any new proposals did not create additional costs.

FODÉ SECK (Senegal) said that effective multilateral disarmament enabled conditions for a safer world.  However, the paralysis that had seized the disarmament machinery displayed its dysfunctionality.  A lack of political will was responsible, since those entities had all of the necessary elements.  That situation was frustrating, because the disarmament process must display strong political will in order to stop conflicts and disasters associated with weapons and related military facilities.  Consensus was a desirable means of decision- making, but other options should be explored.  Allowing certain parties, whose positions did not reflect those of the majority, was a trap and should be avoided, as that impeded achievement of a common decision.  It should be possible to find a solution within the Conference on Disarmament unless the General Assembly decided otherwise during a special session on revitalization and reform of the disarmament entities.

KELLY ANDERSON (Canada) said neither of the two main multilateral forums established to advance disarmament had met the test of contributing substantially to international peace and security.  If the work of those forums was subverted by geopolitical power struggles, the security of all would be threatened.  The opportunity that the Informal Working Group offered to delegations to draft a consensus work programme, had been unable to generate significant cooperation, flexibility, and compromise to end the deadlock.  Canada was encouraged by the discussion, within the Conference, on banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.  That discussion demonstrated that positions were not so far apart, and that negotiations on a treaty should be within reach.  Unfortunately, that was not the conclusion reached by all States.  Framing the question of scope as an overly simplistic choice between an “all stocks” and a “no stocks” option was unnecessary and unhelpful.  Detailed technical assessment of the aspects of a treaty by the Group of Governmental Experts could “unpack” those questions, and contribute to eventual negotiations on the treaty itself.  However, the inability of the disarmament machinery to function had another, perhaps more insidious, effect in that people might have stopped listening to each other.

URS SCHMID (Switzerland), expressing concern at the paralysis, stressed the fundamental importance of a properly functioning Conference on Disarmament, capable of fulfilling its negotiating mandate.  Failure to break the deadlock would further damage its standing.  However, it was encouraging that the Conference was seeking to explore various options.  The 2014 session had led to substantive, intensive and high-quality exchanges which, in some instances, had clarified national positions.  The re-establishment of the informal working group tasked with producing a programme of work provided an opportunity for close examination of a number of considerations on which to build next year.  Establishing a structured process to consider the various aspects of working methods and functioning should be a priority for the 2015 Conference session.  The lack of progress in the Disarmament Commission was equally concerning, he said, of the view that it needed a more focused agenda. It was high time both forums opened up more fully to the contributions of civil society.

MAMOUDOU MANA (Cameroon) said his country attached the highest importance to international peace and security, particularly in connection with disarmament, non-proliferation and the control of all weapons.  He welcomed the renewed engagement of some Member States in favour of total disarmament, but voiced concerns about the security situation in the Central African region, which had been confronted by wide-ranging conflicts, political crises, terrorism and lingering violence in post-conflict zones.  The circulation of arms was one of the biggest security threats in the subregion.  The situation in the Great Lakes Region, as well as the instability in the Central African Republic and Libya drew attention to the issue of small arms and light weapons.  In December 2011, countries in the region had adopted a road map on non-proliferation and combatting terrorism, followed by two workshops dedicated to evaluating progress.

ÁLVARO MENDONÇA E MOURA (Portugal), associating with the statement of the European Union, believed that a non-discriminatory approach remained essential to addressing concerns related to disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation.  Drawing attention to an issue of specific interest to his country, he recalled that for the past 15 years, the Conference on Disarmament had not produced any decision regarding its enlargement of its membership.  That situation was unacceptable.  Portugal regretted that no reference had been made in that body’s latest report regarding the nomination of the Friend of the Chair for enlarged membership.

MATTHEW ROWLAND (United Kingdom), associating with the European Union, said it was good to hear so many States reaffirm their support for the disarmament machinery and their willingness to revitalize and reinvigorate it.  His country joined that call, noting that for the machinery to be truly effective it needed to be revitalized.  All three bodies — the Disarmament Commission, the First Committee and the Conference on Disarmament — were mutually reinforcing, and reinvigoration of one would have a positive effect on the other.

The United Kingdom recognized its particular responsibilities as a nuclear-weapon State, he said, adding that the lack of movement in the disarmament machinery had not been used by his country as an excuse to stop taking steps towards disarmament.  The United Kingdom remained committed to the goal of a world without nuclear weapons, and in the last five years, it had announced further reductions in warheads and it had revised and strengthened its negative security assurances.  It had reduced its holdings of nuclear weapons from around 460 warheads to a commitment now of 180 by the mid-2020s.

BERNA KASNAKLI (Turkey) said the Conference on Disarmament, once a success story, had been dormant for too long.  The same, unfortunately, applied to the Disarmament Commission.  Multilateralism and progressive interactions among States carried sufficient ways of rectifying the ailments in the machinery.  In view of the multitude of security challenges, enhancing the effectiveness of the United Nations disarmament machinery should be a shared objective.  The problems that hampered progress in the Conference were not created by its procedures or its internal dynamics.  There was a certain malaise throughout the disarmament machinery and the stalemate in the Conference reflected strategic bottlenecks at different yet interrelated levels.  There was an urgent need to formulate a consensual programme of work that would pave the way towards negotiations and revitalize the Conference, which possessed the mandate, rules of procedure and membership to discharge its duties.

DJAMEL MOKTEFI (Algeria), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said it was important for Member States to demonstrate political will to revitalize the disarmament tools in an efficient and lasting way.  While each faced similar challenges, it was still the lack of political will that was the principle obstacle to achieving concrete results.  It was disappointing that the Disarmament Commission had failed to achieve progress, but he was confident that could be remedied.  He also continued to attach great importance to the Conference on Disarmament.  Given the critical weight of the issues on the Conference’s agenda, he was deeply concerned by the lack of consensus on a work programme.  That stalemate particularly affected those counties that did not have nuclear weapons. The consensus rule was a way of ensuring that all Member States, and not just the most powerful, could protect their national security interests.

AHN YOUNG-JIP (Republic of Korea) said the Conference on Disarmament had been unable to complete substantive work for more than a decade.  The international community continued to urge that machinery to change, and for members to overcome the political problems creating that abysmal situation.  During the 2014 session, the Conference had established a working group to discuss possible options to creating a programme of work.  Those serious efforts demonstrated strong commitment to move forward.  The Shannon Mandate was a good basis for the fissile material cut-off treaty, but the Conference should not exclude other possible ways to boost its agenda items.  The working group was a very useful practice, he said, adding that such innovations could eventually lead to more common ground.  It was time for the international community to work together to revitalize the Disarmament Commission.  Member States should focus on common denominators rather than on differences.  He hoped the Commission would emerge from the prolonged impasse and once again play a unique role in disarmament and non-proliferation.

FERNANDO LUQUE MÁRQUEZ (Ecuador), associating with the Union of South American Nations and the Non-Aligned Movement, said, of the situation in the Conference, that either the international community could proceed with improvised initiatives, which only added uncertainty and mistrust to the process, or try to correct the problem as a whole.  The proposals presented through drafts or other mechanisms, either in a murky or open way, tried to transfer the Conference mandate to other forums.  Those were often incomplete, biased or lacking in certainty.  As far as he was concerned, it was clear that the stalemate in the Conference was due to a lack of political will on the part of the main actors.  Thus, progress would not be found by changing procedures or working methods, because without the necessary political will, the situation would only be repeated.

He said that consensus in disarmament negotiations was based on the principle of security.  Innovative proposals had been made to try to further the prime areas of nuclear disarmament, namely, fissile material, preventing an outer space arms race, and providing negative security assurances.  He also called for negotiations to strengthen constraints on biological weapons.  He did not want the current machinery to remain frozen in time forever.  Rather, the rules and bodies should be respected until the international community convened a fourth special session of the General Assembly.  “Yes, let’s be imaginative,” he said. “But let’s also be brave.”  A special session would allow all United Nations members to reach a new consensus on the disarmament machinery and finally fulfil the promise that had been part of the United Nations since its founding.

JIRI ELLINGER (Czech Republic) said that it was not feasible to launch negotiations without consensus on a programme of work for the Conference.  That was why the re-establishment of the informal working group to assist in its development was a positive step in the right direction.  Sufficient time and effort should be given to enlarging the Conference.  It would be appropriate to pay more attention to the rules of procedure as States considered that international stability and security was by definition a universal question that should be addressed by a universally represented body.  Furthermore, enlarging the Conference would promote transparency and inclusiveness of its work.

BELACHEW GUJUBO GUTULO (Ethiopia), associating with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said multilateralism remained the most reliable and effective setting in which to comprehensively address critical global issues of international peace and security, including disarmament.  As nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction continued to challenge peace and security, revitalizing international disarmament machineries, particularly the Conference on Disarmament, became urgent.  Political will of individual States, particularly those that possessed nuclear weapons, was vital.  The perceived or real threat of their use and that of other mass destruction weapons by non-State actors was a source of great concern.  The only safe alternative was the total elimination of those weapons through multilateral and bilateral negotiations.  It was important, therefore, to enable the Conference to begin its work in a substantive and progressive way.

For information media. Not an official record.