24 September 2010

Closing Meeting, Secretary-General Says Sustained Engagement, Leadership Can Overcome Disarmament Conference Impasse, Revitalize Multilateral Efforts

24 September 2010
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Closing Meeting, Secretary-General Says Sustained Engagement, Leadership Can


Overcome Disarmament Conference Impasse, Revitalize Multilateral Efforts


Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s closing statement to the High-Level Meeting on Revitalizing the Work of the Conference on Disarmament and Taking Forward Multilateral Disarmament Negotiations, in New York, 24 September:

I thank all the distinguished speakers for their very valuable contributions.

We have had a rich and focused discussion.

It has been one of the longest meetings in this busiest week of the year.

I thank you for your patience and positive thinking.

I am heartened by the resolve to revitalize the work of the Conference on Disarmament and take forward the multilateral disarmament agenda.

I am sorry we could not accommodate all the inscribed speakers as of now due to time constraints.  I am grateful for your kind understanding.

Let me assure you that the Chair’s Summary attempts to capture the key elements of the views expressed today, including those distributed in prepared statements.

It also presents a set of follow-up steps for your future consideration.

Let me briefly summarize.

First, we have seen widespread recognition of the importance of multilateralism in disarmament and non-proliferation negotiations.

We have a common vision, too: a world free of nuclear weapons.

And we all recognize that disarmament could help address other global challenges — including poverty reduction and the fight against climate change.

Second, I see a convergence of views on the Conference on Disarmament and the existing disarmament machinery.

There is broad concern about the current status of that machinery, in particular the impasse at the Conference on Disarmament, which is hurting its credibility and calling into question its relevance.

There is also broad agreement on the need to immediately start negotiations on a non-discriminatory, multilateral and internationally verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices.

Continued impasse could result in States resorting to alternative arrangements outside the Conference on Disarmament.  The members of the Conference on Disarmament have a responsibility to rise to the expectations of the international community.

The discussions today also identified the need to begin substantive work on nuclear disarmament, negative security assurances and preventing an arms race in outer space.

I see the Programme of Work adopted by consensus in 2009 as the most common denominator.  It is strongly suggested that at its first plenary meeting in 2011, the Conference on Disarmament adopts the 2009 Programme of Work or any other similar subsequent proposal submitted during the 2010 session.

Third, we have had constructive discussions on how to improve the effectiveness of the disarmament machinery, including the Conference on Disarmament. 

I think the current stagnation in multilateral negotiations is understood to be due not just to a lack of political will, but also to deficiencies in the disarmament machinery.

A number of speakers called for a comprehensive assessment of the functioning of the machinery, including institutional issues such as mandates, membership, agendas and rules of procedures.

I will ask my Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters to undertake a thorough review of the issues raised here today, with special focus on the functioning of the Conference on Disarmament.

Based on its recommendations, I will consider further action, including convening a high-level panel of eminent persons.

Fourth, I am encouraged that a number of participants asked that this high-level meeting should not be a one-time event.

It is proposed that the current session of the General Assembly includes follow-up to this meeting in its agenda, to be considered both directly in plenary and in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security).

I trust that the President of the General Assembly will lend his personal support to this crucial issue.

I also welcome the announcement that the nuclear-weapon States will hold a meeting next year in Paris.  I believe such a meeting would facilitate the implementation of the action plan agreed on at the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) Review Conference.

I would like to see these proposals carried forward, and I stand ready to facilitate.

With sustained engagement and leadership, we can bridge differences, overcome the deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament and revitalize multilateral disarmament.

I thank all the ministers, high-level delegates and representatives of international organizations for participating in this important meeting.

* *** *

For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.