CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT HEARS STATEMENTS BY 10 STATES AND ITS PRESIDENT
Bangladesh, Switzerland, Egypt, Mexico, Cuba, Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia, Russia, United States and Pakistan Take the Floor
26 August 2014
The Conference on Disarmament today heard statements by 10 States and its President, including on its draft annual report to the General Assembly, farewell speeches, general addresses and statements concerning Ukraine.
Ambassador Mazlan Muhammad of Malaysia, President of the Conference, said the Secretariat had circulated the draft copy of the Conference’s annual report to all delegations on 21 August, and requested that any comments on the draft should be made in writing and sent to the secretariat by 3 p.m. on 28 August. He planned to devote next week to the drafting of the report. On the formulation of the report, he said it was a balanced and factual report which reflected the work of the Conference. While he understood that certain delegations may have a preference for the inclusion of additional elements to the draft, he hoped that Member States would provide a degree of flexibility in efforts to produce a consensus document.
Bangladesh and Egypt made farewell statements. Switzerland, Cuba and Indonesia made general statements. Mexico, Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan spoke about the draft annual report. Russia and the United States spoke about Ukraine.
The secretariat of the Conference made oral corrections to the draft annual report.
The next public plenary of the Conference on Disarmament will take place at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 2 September.
MAZLAN MUHAMMAD (Malaysia), President of the Conference, bid farewell to Ambassador Abdul Hannan of Bangladesh and Ambassador Walid Abdelnasser of Egypt who would soon be leaving Geneva and wished them success in their future assignments. He also welcomed the participants of the 2014 Fellowships on Disarmament, who were observing their meeting today. He noted that the secretariat had circulated the draft copy of the Conference’s annual report to all delegations on 21 August, and requested that any comments on the draft should be made in writing and sent to the secretariat by 3 p.m. on 28 August. He planned to devote next week to the drafting of the report. On the formulation of the report, he said it was a balanced and factual report which reflected the work of the Conference; it was balanced and objective in nature, without trying to be prescriptive and judgemental in its content. Despite the lack of consensus on a programme of work, the Conference had been able to agree on the establishment of an informal working group mandated to produce a programme of work as well as the schedule of activities for informal discussions on all items on the agenda. The report also highlighted the proposals made by the Acting Secretary-General of the Conference. While he understood that certain delegations may have a preference for the inclusion of additional elements to the draft, he hoped that Member States would provide a degree of flexibility in efforts to produce a consensus document.
ABDUL HANNAN (Bangladesh), in a farewell statement, said as a departing Ambassador, he would like to emphasise from his experience that they may consider innovative ideas in the Conference to reinvigorate the process of a meaningful sustainable dialogue, but without true political will, possibly nothing would move and they could not imagine meaningful progress in the Conference. Whatever mechanism they evolved, either formal or informal, all the members should be kept on board in a true, transparent and inclusive process. Since different countries had different security concerns, confidence building should be attached high importance before any substantive negotiations to start with. Bangladesh’s position on nuclear disarmament was very clear. Bangladesh understood the complex political realities which were hindering the developments in the negotiation on nuclear disarmament. Pending that, why couldn’t they start negotiation on negative security assurances? Bangladesh strongly believed that non-nuclear weapon States had the legitimate right to negative security assurances. All agreed on the danger of nuclear weapons. The money spent on maintenance for those vicious weapons could be used to reduce poverty to a large extent and they could leave a better world for the generations to come. Ambassador Hannan said representing Bangladesh in the Conference had been an enriching experience and learning curve for him, and said he would be happy to know from outside Geneva that the Conference could start substantive negotiations.
(Switzerland) said during the 2014 session, the Conference had proceeded mostly along two axes, the schedule of activities and the informal working group. The schedule of activities had resulted in substantive, sustained and high quality exchanges. The informal working group also provided the opportunity to deepen a number of considerations, on which it would be important to build next year. In particular, the group addressed the option of focusing in the short-term or negotiating on a topic different from the four core issues on the agenda of the Conference. This alternative approach had some resonance, and Switzerland saw value in addressing further the topic suggested by the coordinators, namely radiological weapons or the weaponisation of radiological sources. The 2014 session had also been marked by the suggestions that its Acting Secretary-General had submitted to the Conference. Switzerland had already stressed the value that it attached to addressing further the option of negotiating framework conventions. Another suggestion was to launch negotiations on a politically binding document rather than legally-binding texts, and continuing the discussions on this in 2015 seemed opportune. Switzerland also supported the suggestion to establish promptly a structured process led by a coordinator and tasked to address the methods of work of the Conference in its various aspects.
WALID ABDELNASSER (Egypt), in a farewell statement, said Egypt was very concerned that for the past 18 years, the Conference had failed to adopt and operationalize a programme of work to commence its substantive negotiations. To overcome this stalemate, they had to demonstrate the political will needed to take forward the negotiating mandate of the Conference. Out of this conviction, Ambassador Abdelnasser said he had assumed the coordination of the informal discussions in the Conference on nuclear disarmament held in May 2014. He had also participated in the informal discussions on the core issues on the agenda of the Conference, which proved to be a useful exercise. Egypt considered nuclear disarmament the top priority. It was also interested in promoting and maintaining outer space as a peaceful environment that should serve as a common heritage of humankind. It was essential, therefore, that they further develop the legal regime governing outer space and prevent an arms race in outer space. Egypt also welcomed the re-establishment in 2014 of the informal working group to produce a programme of work and still hoped that this group would fulfil its mandate and help to bring the Conference back on track to start the negotiations it had been mandated for. The delay in convening the 2012 conference on the establishment of a Middle East free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction raised serious concerns regarding the undertaking they made in multilateral disarmament fora and the commitments of the parties to fulfil those undertakings.
(Mexico) said it would be an honour for Mexico to take over as President of the Conference in a few months’ time. Mexico would be making comments on the draft annual report in writing over the next few days; the report was already quite satisfactory. However, the Conference was still stuck in a rut. Mexico expressed gratitude for the proposals made by the Acting Secretary-General, which had great potential and were worth exploring further. He wished to make a comment though on the annual report. Those paragraphs on the schedule of activities were listed under the chapter on substantive work of the Conference. However, they would be better reflected under chapter two of the draft report on organization of the work of the Conference. Mexico believed that the substantive work of the Conference had to be negotiations.
(Cuba) thanked the President for the draft report, which was an excellent basis to allow the Conference to make rapid progress. Cuba stressed that it was very important for the Conference to be able to adopt the draft report quickly. Cuba wished to refer to something of great importance to it, and also to the international community as a whole, namely outer space. This was a common heritage of humanity and it had to be used only for peaceful purposes. The role of space technology in daily life was absolutely vital. In that regard, efforts to ensure that outer space was used exclusively for peaceful purposes was absolutely vital in order to maintain international peace and security. On the occasion of the official visit of President Putin to Havana on 11 July, the Foreign Affairs Ministries of Cuba and Russia had signed a joint declaration on the none first placement of arms in outer space. Cuba and Russia had asked the Acting Secretary-General of the Conference to circulate this agreement as an official document of the Conference to inform Member States of this important text.
(Kyrgyzstan) said on 19 August, Russia had made a comment on the absence in the draft annual report of the informal consultations on item three of the agenda which took place from 11 to 13 June concerning information on the discussions on the none first placement of weapons in outer space. Kyrgyzstan said it should be noted that it was necessary to reflect in the report of the Conference all essential aspects of relevance which had taken place during informational consultations. A full-fledged presentation of the contents of the consultations would promote an objective reflection of the discussions and subsequent development of a confidential dialogue at the Conference.
(Indonesia) said during the 2014 session, both the work of the chair and the vice-chair of the informal working group in the informal meetings, based on the schedule of activities, aimed to find common ground so as to be able to adopt a programme of work, but to no avail. In addition the Acting Secretary-General of the Conference put forward valid proposals, which unfortunately did not receive consensus to be further discussed in the current session. It was imperative that the Conference on Disarmament resume its original function as the world’s single multilateral body for negotiating disarmament treaties. They also had to place it within the context of a changing world. In Indonesia’s view, for the forthcoming 2015 session, they should take into consideration re-establishing the informal working group and could discuss in depth the proposals of the Acting Secretary-General of the Conference. There was merit to establishing a subsidiary body on the working methods of the Conference, and to hold a Conference/Civil Society Forum. They needed to make the process more inclusive through possible expansion of the membership of the Conference.
(Russia) agreed with Switzerland that agreeing on a programme of work for the Conference was a priority task for all. Russia recognized and respected the right of any delegation to raise issues of interest to it in the Conference. In this connection, the circulation by the delegation of Ukraine as Conference documents of comments on issues which were not directly related to their activities was a matter of attention. Russia wished to take the floor to set forth its approach. Regarding the legal status of nuclear facilities in the new Russian subject, the Republic of Crimea, and the district of Sebastopol, in accordance with the free and voluntary expression of the will of the peoples of Crimea at the Crimean referendum of 15 March 2014, and the treaty of 18 March 2014, the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sebastopol were an integral part of the Russian Federation. Russia had taken full responsibility for the nuclear facilities which were located in its new subjects. As of 18 March 2014, the agreement between the USSR and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the additional protocol to it extended to the entire territory of the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sebastopol. Should the IAEA be interested in accepting guarantees of these facilities of the territories of the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sebastopol, Russia was prepared to present to the IAEA the full opportunities to conduct appropriate inspection activities. With regard to the so-called deep concern of the Ukrainians concerning supposed violations by Russia of the provisions of the treaty on the elimination of medium- and short-range missiles, Russia considered such statements as unfounded. No evidence had been presented to justify these statements. Russia recalled that for serious concerns, there were special mechanisms of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
The comments of the Ukrainian Foreign Minister on this Treaty concerning the supposed failure of Russia to observe the Budapest Memorandum on guarantees of security for Ukraine, in connection to its accession to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, were not new; similar public attacks had been issued before, but without any specific evidence. Russia had not violated its obligation not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear States against Ukraine. What was taking place presently in Ukraine was the consequence not of external interference but rather of complex internal processes, the beginning of which started by the ultimate nationalist forces. In conclusion, Russia respected the right of any delegation to bring issues of interest to it to the Conference. At the same time, Russia called on all colleagues to refrain from politicization of the activities of the Conference and to concentrate attention on current problems, in particular agreement on a programme of work. Russia reaffirmed the intention expressed by the Cuban Ambassador to jointly circulate the text of the Russian-Cuban statement on none placement of weapons in outer space as an official document of the Conference.
(United States) applauded Ukraine’s long-standing commitment to nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear security. The partnership between the United States and Ukraine to support that commitment dated back to Ukraine’s decision in 1994 to remove all nuclear weapons from its territory and accede to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapon State. The United States did not recognize Russia’s illegal attempt to annex Crimea. Crimea remained part of the territory of Ukraine and subject to Ukrainian jurisdiction. The United States stood by its commitment in the Budapest Memorandum of 1994 to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine in accordance with the United Nations Charter and condemned Russia’s failure to abide by those same commitments. The Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency had informed the Board of Governors that the IAEA would continue to implement safeguards in accordance with the IAEA statute and with international law.
(Russia) said Russia would not get into a debate on political issues which were not related to the Conference. Russia simply noted that the accession of Crimea to Russia took place after the Crimean referendum during which the overwhelming majority of the population expressed its support for such a step. This was then officialised by a separate treaty.
(Pakistan) said it had two comments on the draft annual report. On the outset, the report looked very factual and objective. On paragraphs 18 and 32, which dealt with the schedule of activities, Pakistan would provide the President with written comments before the due date. However, Pakistan just wished to inform the Conference that these comments were driven by Pakistan’s desire that the language be as close as possible to CD/7978.
For use of the information media; not an official record