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CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT MARKS SIXTY-EIGHTH ANNIVERSARY OF HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI ATOMIC BOMBS
Continues to Discuss Proposal by Secretary-General of the Conference to Establish a Working Group to Produce a Programme of Work
6 August 2013

The Conference on Disarmament this morning held a plenary meeting in which it heard a statement by Japan marking the sixty-eighth anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs and continued to discuss a proposal by the Secretary-General of the Conference to establish an informal working group with a mandate to produce a programme of work that would be robust in substance and progressive over time in implementation.

The President of the Conference, Ambassador Mohammad Sabir Ismail of Iraq, said
that reaching agreement on a programme of work that reflected the consensus of all Member States of the Conference remained his priority.  In recent weeks, he had conducted numerous consultations, but as all were aware, reaching consensus was a difficult and complicated task.  However, he believed that reaching a balanced programme of work was still not impossible.  He would continue his efforts in order to bridge the gap between the divergent views.  He would present the results of his consultations at the next plenary on 13 August.  It was his intention to circulate a draft programme of work through the secretariat to give delegations adequate time to look at it and consult with their capitals. 

The President said the plenary today would be devoted to another discussion on the proposal presented on 18 June by Kassym Jomart-Tokayev, Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament and Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, to establish an informal working group with a mandate to produce a programme of work that would be robust in substance and progressive over time in implementation.  It was also his intention to hold a meeting tomorrow with all the regional groups in order to clarify their parallel tracks and listen to their views.  Today marked the tragic date 68 years ago when Hiroshima and Nagasaki suffered from atomic bombs.  He wished to express sympathy for the families of the victims and hoped that never again would there be attacks like on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

Japan said that due to the tragic events which occurred 68 years ago, a peace memorial ceremony was held this morning in Hiroshima and a memorial in Nagasaki would take place on Thursday.  The desire of the Japanese people to totally eliminate nuclear weapons had been unremitting since 1945.  This was the same goal that the whole international community shared, including all in this Council Chamber.  A world without nuclear weapons was not conceivable without further multilateral measures.  As such, this Conference on Disarmament was supposed to be the venue where they reconciled the real risks and long-lasting hope from the people of the world so that they moved forward to achieve their shared final goal.  The Conference needed to end its stalemate and respond to its high expectation and responsibility. 

Speakers all noted the anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs and extended their sympathy to Japan and the families of the victims. 

Ukraine added its voice to those who supported the establishment of an informal working group with a mandate to produce a draft programme of work.  In Ukraine’s view, there were no procedural restrictions which should impair the Conference on Disarmament’s action on that matter and prevent establishing the working group with the mandate to support the President and provide an institutionalized forum for constructive discussions of the draft programme of work.  To allay concerns about the rules of procedure, the Conference could consider an option of the President of the Conference being the Chair of the informal working group. 

Sweden said that should it become apparent that consensus on a programme of work was not possible, Sweden would take a favourable view of Secretary-General Tokayev’s proposal.  An informal working group would be worth a try.  It also would make sense for such a group to work beyond the end of the current session of the Conference.

Indonesia said the Secretary-General’s proposals put forth on 18 June deserved the consideration and support of the Conference.  They could help break the 17-year stalemate.  The inability to reach a programme of work was due to the lack of a political will to reach consensus.  The mandate of the Chair of the informal working group and the President of the Conference was not conflicting.  As the secretariat said last week, the Conference was its own master and it was thus up to Member States to move it forward.

The next public plenary of the Conference will be held at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 13 August.

Statements

Ambassador MOHAMMAD SABIR ISMAIL of Iraq, President of the Conference, updating the Conference on his consultations regarding a programme of work, said that reaching agreement on a programme of work that reflected the consensus of all Member States of the Conference remained his priority.  In recent weeks, he had conducted numerous consultations, but as all were aware, reaching consensus was a difficult and complicated task.  However, he believed that reaching a balanced programme of work was still not impossible.  He would continue his efforts in order to bridge the gap between the divergent views.  He had received feedback from many delegations that encouraged him to continue.  The main purpose of his work this week was to meet with delegations to consult on a programme of work.  He would present the results of his consultations at the next plenary on 13 August.  It was his intention to circulate a draft programme of work through the secretariat to give delegations adequate time to look at it and consult with their capitals. 

The plenary today would be devoted to another discussion on the proposal presented on 18 June by Kassym Jomart-Tokayev, Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament, to establish an informal working group with a mandate to produce a programme of work that would be robust in substance and progressive over time in implementation.  The President said he was convinced that this proposal needed to be further considered as a number of delegations had said that they needed more time to discuss this issue and receive instructions from their capitals. He invited delegations to provide further input.  It was also his intention to hold a meeting tomorrow with all the regional groups in order to clarify their parallel tracks and listen to their views. 

Today marked the tragic date 68 years ago when Hiroshima and Nagasaki suffered from atomic bombs.  He wished to express sympathy for the families of the victims and hoped that never again would there be attacks like on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

Japan said that due to the tragic events which occurred 68 years ago, a peace memorial ceremony was held this morning in Hiroshima and a memorial in Nagasaki would take place on Thursday.  The desire of the Japanese people to totally eliminate nuclear weapons had been unremitting since 1945.  This was the same goal that the whole international community shared, including all in this Council Chamber.  Although the number of nuclear weapons was decreasing, Japan was not satisfied with this amount.  On the occasion of a round table in Hiroshima last week, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida stated “As the only country to have ever suffered atomic bombings, it is our country’s mission to pass down the story of the tremendous sufferings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki across borders and generations.”  It was Japan’s core task to share with the world its experiences of the aftermath from the atomic bombings.  The role and responsibility of the younger generation had become critical since the direct sufferers of the atomic bombings, known as “Hibakusha”, were aging.  Foreign Minister Kishida initiated in June a commission mechanism called “Youth Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons.”  A world without nuclear weapons was not conceivable without further multilateral measures.  As such, this Conference on Disarmament was supposed to be the venue where they reconciled the real risks and long-lasting hope from the people of the world so that they moved forward to achieve their shared final goal.  The Conference needed to end its stalemate and respond to its high expectation and responsibility.  Japan would host a Ministerial meeting of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative in April 2014 in Hiroshima. 

Ukraine said Ukraine considered the adoption of the substantive programme of work and its implementation to be the only veritable evidence of the revitalization of the Conference and the restoration of its credibility as the sole multilateral disarmament   negotiating body.  Ukraine consistently adhered to the further elaboration of the needed magic formula on the basis of CD/1864, although it could also consider any other result-oriented decision, including the adoption of a simplified programme of work to enable the Conference to carry out its negotiating mandate.  During the last 15 years of the standstill in the Conference, apart from protracted deliberations on the elaboration of the programme of work, progress had also been obstructed by the inefficient rules of procedure.  Among other complications, a short term of presidency made it difficult to provide long term consistency and inclusiveness of a consultative process with all Member States.  Therefore, the need for considering taking several steps aside in order to gain a fresh look on the situation and to examine new approaches was long overdue.

Ukraine added its voice to those who supported the establishment of an informal working group with a mandate to produce a draft programme of work.  In Ukraine’s view, there were no procedural restrictions which should impair the Conference on Disarmament’s action on that matter and prevent establishing the working group with the mandate to support the President and provide an institutionalized forum for constructive discussions of the draft programme of work. Although according to rule 29 of the rules of procedure it was the right and duty of the President to draw up the provisional programme of work, rule 28 stipulated the right and duty of the Conference to establish a draft programme of work, inter alia by means of creation of an informal working group. The acting President of the Conference could forward the draft paper to the Conference for consideration and taking decisions.  The working group could perform an assisting role to the President, discuss the controversial elements of a draft programme of work and contribute to the emergence of a compromise.  To allay concerns about the rules of procedure, the Conference could consider an option of the President of the Conference being the Chair of the informal working group. 

Sweden said it joined the President in marking the significance of today, and thanked the Ambassador of Japan for his thoughtful statement.   Should it become apparent that consensus on a programme of work was not possible, Sweden would take a favourable view of Secretary-General Tokayev’s proposal.  An informal working group would be worth a try.  It also would make sense for such a group to work beyond the end of the current session of the Conference.

Indonesia extended a message of sympathy to the victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs.  That tragic incident 68 years ago was a constant reminder that the total elimination of nuclear weapons was their noble duty.  On the issue of establishing an informal working group with a mandate to produce a programme of work that would be robust in substance and progressive over time in implementation, Indonesia hoped that the Conference could reach the long awaited consensus on a programme of work.  This session, three attempts had been made to agree on a programme of work, but they still could not reach consensus.  The Secretary-General’s proposals put forth on 18 June deserved the consideration and support of the Conference.  They could help break the 17-year stalemate.  The inability to reach a programme of work was due to the lack of a political will to reach consensus.  Indonesia noted that any discussion arising in any informal working group would not be binding on Member States, but the working group could give Member States the opportunity to openly discuss the issues.  The political will of the Member States could only be demonstrated if there was a willingness to make a breakthrough.  Indonesia believed that the Secretary-General’s solution could serve to produce a breakthrough.  The mandate of the Chair of the informal working group and the President of the Conference was not conflicting.  As the secretariat said last week, the Conference was its own master and it was thus up to Member States to move it forward.


For use of the information media; not an official record

DC13/028E