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ACTING SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT MICHAEL MØLLER ADRESSES DELEGATIONS
Conference Hears Reports from Bodies Dealing with Outer Space, Fissile Material, Nuclear Disarmament and Autonomous Weapons
2 June 2014

The Conference on Disarmament today heard a statement by its Acting Secretary-General, Michael Møller, as well as presentations by Russia on the work of the Group of Governmental Experts on Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures in Outer Space Activities, by Canada on the work of the Group of Governmental Experts to make recommendations on possible aspects that could contribute to but not negotiate a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, by Costa Rica on the work of the Open-Ended Working Group on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations, and by France on the work of the informal expert meeting on lethal autonomous weapons systems.

Michael Møller, Acting Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament and Acting Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, said the disarmament machinery and the Conference on Disarmament in particular had been clogged for much too long.  Their work in this Chamber had not gone beyond mere discussions and deliberations on the agenda items.  While pondering on the ambitious goal of revitalizing the broader disarmament machinery, he continued to believe that with the shared political will of its Members, the Conference, even in its present form, could build on its recent, renewed momentum.

Firstly, although there was no consensus on starting negotiations on any of the CD’s four core agenda items there were areas of agreement and common ground on each issue, and States could consider negotiations on areas of common ground with a view eventually to produce framework conventions to which substantive protocols may be subsequently negotiated and added.  Secondly, to make a difference, the Conference did not have to aim at negotiating legally binding instruments only, even if this was the ideal goal.  There could be merit, also, in exploring issues for which voluntary, politically binding regimes may be negotiated.  Thirdly, concerning the working methods of the Conference which were seen by many as being at the root – or at least part of the cause – of the protracted inactivity, he would like to reiterate his predecessor’s call for the establishment of a subsidiary body on this issue.  Fourthly, he suggested the holding of an informal Conference-Civil Society Forum, hosted by the Secretary-General of the Conference.  If the experience was a constructive one, they could then decide to have it as a recurring event until such time that they decided to adapt the Conference’s rules of procedure to allow greater and more formal interaction with civil society.

Presentations were made by Russia on the work of the Group of Governmental Experts on Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures in Outer Space Activities, by Canada on the work of the Group of Governmental Experts to make recommendations on possible aspects that could contribute to but not negotiate a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, by Costa Rica on the work of the Open-Ended Working Group on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations, and by France on the work of the informal expert meeting held last week on lethal autonomous weapons systems.

Also participating in the debate were Chile, Brazil, New Zealand, Australia, Myanmar, Colombia, Netherlands, Mexico, Uruguay, Pakistan, Switzerland, Indonesia, Australia, Turkey, Finland, India, Algeria, Belarus, Republic of Korea, Egypt, and the United States.

In concluding remarks, Ambassador Toshio Sano of Japan, outgoing President of the Conference on Disarmament, said it had been an honour to serve as President of the Conference.  Japan respected and valued the Conference on Disarmament and placed great importance on disarmament.  The agreement on the schedule of activities was a modest but positive step in the work of the Conference, but it was not a goal in itself, he hoped it would pave the way for future negotiations and he looked forward to participating in the meetings.  Regarding the informal working group on a programme of work, they had held discussions yesterday.  It was a difficult task, but he remained committed to it.  Japan also commended the spirit and work of the P6, which was functioning as a key component this year. Kazakhstan would take over as President and Japan assured Kazakhstan of its continued engagement.

Ambassador Sano offered condolences to the Republic of Korea for the sinking of a ferry and to Turkey following a mine explosion.  He said that in accordance with decision CD/1978 of 26 March 2014, the informal meetings would begin on Wednesday, 21 May on agenda items one and two of the agenda, focusing on nuclear disarmament.


The next public plenary of the Conference will be held on Tuesday, 27 May, at 10 a.m.

Statements

MICHAEL MØLLER, Acting Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament and Acting Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, said he had now served as Acting Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament and Personal Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General to this body for six months, and thought that the six-month mark would be a good opportunity to share some reflections – based on his interactions and observations over the past months – on how they could further promote disarmament and, eventually, re-energize the negotiating mandate that the international community had bestowed upon the Conference.  He recalled some recent disarmament successes that reminded that it was possible to reconstitute the international social contract that had helped establish some of the key pillars of international security, including this Conference.  Such successes included over 90 per cent of Syria’s chemical weapons having been removed and last year’s signing of the Arms Trade Treaty.  He also commended the Group of Governmental Experts to make recommendations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices and the Convention on Conventional Weapons Informal Meeting of Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems, which last week engaged State Parties and external experts in a productive exchange of views on this emerging category of weapons.  Although these processes were taking place outside of the Conference, their positive results may well contribute substantially in advancing the agenda of the Conference and in promoting international peace and security.

Mr. Møller said much more needed to be done, particularly in realizing their common vision of a world free of nuclear weapons.  The disarmament machinery and the Conference on Disarmament in particular had been clogged for much too long.  Their work in this Chamber had not gone beyond mere discussions and deliberations on the agenda items.  While pondering on the ambitious goal of revitalizing the broader disarmament machinery, he continued to believe that with the shared political will of its Members, the Conference, even in its present form, could build on its recent, renewed momentum.  Firstly, although there was no consensus on starting negotiations on any of the Conference’s four core agenda items -- nuclear disarmament; a ban on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons; negative security assurances; and the prevention of an arms race in outer space -- there were areas of agreement and common ground on each issue.  He continued to believe, fully acknowledging that not everyone agreed, that they did not have to wait for full consensus on everything to emerge before negotiations begin.  He would like to invite the Conference to consider negotiations on areas of common ground with a view eventually to produce framework conventions to which substantive protocols may be subsequently negotiated and added.  One objective of the Schedule of Activities which they had recently adopted could therefore be to identify and turn over to the informal working group areas of common ground on each of the core issues.

Secondly, to make a difference, the Conference did not have to aim at negotiating legally binding instruments only, even if this was the ideal goal.  There could be merit, also, in exploring issues for which voluntary, politically binding regimes may be negotiated.  Thirdly, concerning the working methods of the Conference which were seen by many as being at the root – or at least part of the cause – of the protracted inactivity, he would like to reiterate his predecessor’s call for the establishment of a subsidiary body on this issue.  As the Conference would be meeting during the remainder of the 2014 session largely in the informal setting of the informal working group and the schedule of activities, they may wish to consider having focused discussions on a review of the working methods of the Conference during the slots reserved for the plenary meetings. He called on the Conference to support a proactive and coordinated role for the P6, even if it was not given a formal status, so that they could continue to benefit from the positive impact of the understanding during this session.  Fourthly, last year’s Open-Ended Working Group to develop proposals to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations provided an opportunity for cross-fertilization of ideas between Member States and civil society organizations.  He suggested, as a first practical step before the end of the year, the holding of an informal Conference-Civil Society Forum, hosted by the Secretary-General of the Conference.  If the experience was a constructive one, they could then decide to have it as a recurring event until such time that they decided to adapt the Conference’s rules of procedure to allow greater and more formal interaction with civil society.

These were a few ideas for the Conference’s consideration and further discussion, offered with his strong belief in the value of the Conference as the single standing forum for multilateral disarmament and in a spirit of shared responsibility for allowing it to fulfil its mission.  As they considered rules of procedure, institutional issues and process, they must never lose sight of the overarching objective of the Conference: to contribute to a better world.  The failure to do so over the past 18 years was not only a stain on the Conference and on the United Nations, but risked undermining further the faith of those they served in the value and relevance of multilateralism.  The Conference did not exist in isolation and they were not meeting in a vacuum in Geneva.  The consequences of the inability to agree in this Chamber went far beyond the Palais des Nations and even beyond the issue of disarmament.  The work of the Conference was an integral part of the broader efforts to build a safer and more secure world where countries and communities can prosper.  It was their moral obligation to ensure that Conference contributed to that collective effort (see full statement).

RUSSIAN FEDERATION, Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts on Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures in Outer Space Activities, said that he wished to share with the Conference the results of the study on transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities that was undertaken by the Group of Governmental Experts in 2012-2013.  The report of the Group (A/68/189) was adopted in August 2013 and later approved by the United Nations General Assembly by consensus.  The study reflected the growing dependence of mankind on uses of space and the dramatic increase in the numbers of actors in outer space activities.  The Group acknowledged existing international instruments and treaties on outer space containing transparency and confidence-building measures, and they agreed there were lacunas in the existing mechanisms and further measures were needed to address challenges pertaining to outer space activities.  Among others, the Group agreed that transparency and confidence-building measures could not serve as a substitute to legally binding arrangements.

The report contained specific recommendations to enhance the transparency of outer space activities, including informal exchanges on space policies, informal notifications such as orbital parameters of outer space objects, and risk reduction notifications, including on scheduled manoeuvres.  Another important confidence-building measure was holding visits to space launch sites and facilities.  The Group recommended that stronger coordination and interaction should be established between participants in outer space activities, including national space agencies, international organizations with specific mandates, as well as commercial operators.

Speaking now as Russia, he said the report of the Group of Governmental Experts and the proposed transparency and confidence-building measures were not the ultimate solution to the existing challenges in space security.  Russia was ready to engage in multilateral discussions on the transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space of relevance to security at the Conference on Disarmament.  China and Russia would continue efforts to promote the draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space and of the threat or use of force against outer space objects.  Russia also encouraged delegations and the secretariat of the Conference to consider another recommendation of the report: to hold a joint ad hoc meeting of the United Nations General Assembly First and Fourth Committees to address possible challenges to space security and sustainability since transparency and confidence-building measures were of relevance in different aspects.

CANADA, Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts to make recommendations on possible aspects that could contribute to but not negotiate a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, said the Group met from March 31 to April 11 in Geneva.  In the first week, the group heard initial presentations of expert perspectives on a range of potential aspects of a future treaty banning the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons and other explosive devices.  There was wide agreement that such a treaty should remain a priority of the international non-proliferation and disarmament community.  There were, of course, issues where several differing perspectives were shared and a few where positions diverged significantly.  In the second week, the Group focused on technical detail on definitions and some aspects of verification.  The first meeting was extremely productive, although considerable work remained to be done.  Their next meeting would take place in August 2014, followed by two additional sessions in 2015.

One sentiment that was clear from most, if not all experts present was regret that a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices was not already under negotiation or, even, concluded.  Many experts stressed the importance that the Conference be the body that should negotiate this treaty, within the context of a balanced programme of work.  Canada continued to hope that should the Conference agree to and implement a comprehensive and balanced programme of work that included the negotiation of a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, that the work of the Group of Governmental Experts would end and its efforts would be transmitted to the Conference.

COSTA RICA, Chair of the Open-Ended Working Group on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations, said on 14 May, it had been one year since they started work in the Working Group.  In December 2012, the General Assembly adopted resolution 67/56 which established the Working Group.  From 14 March and until 30 August, the Working Group spent dozens of hours of significant activity.  The first stage of its work was evaluation as it had been decided that before starting work on proposals, it was necessary to take out an inventory of national and regional approaches to nuclear disarmament.  During this part, he had met with more than 20 representatives of States and civil society to hear their views and to identify possible key speakers and moderators.  Then the interactive panels were held.  These sessions had been the most substantive debate on nuclear disarmament in recent years.  The second stage was the proposals, which after they were received and analysed, were divided into six issues.  He had then drafted the final report (A/68/514), which was adopted on Friday, 30 August.  Venturing conclusions in its personal capacity, Costa Rica said the participation in the Working Group had been utterly positive and the expectations of all the actors had been more than met.  Participation of civil society had taken place almost at the same level of States.  The Conference on Disarmament needed to consider broadening its membership.  The Working Group had been like a breath of fresh air in the work of nuclear disarmament.

FRANCE, presenting information on the informal expert meeting on lethal autonomous weapons systems within the context of the Convention on Conventional Weapons, said there were 30 statements in the general debate, 24 statements in the closing debate, and many statements made during the technical sessions.  This had demonstrated the interest in the emerging topic of lethal autonomous weapons systems.  Many delegations were only just starting to work on this topic and the meetings had allowed an in-depth discussion about it.  The atmosphere was very constructive, showing the desire of all to learn more about this topic.  There were noted debates on the concepts of autonomy, human control and responsibility.  More in-depth consideration of these issues was needed.  There was also a debate on international humanitarian law.  The importance of the Convention on Conventional Weapons was underlined.  This was the first meeting that allowed participants to exchange views on technical, judicial, ethical and military aspects of lethal autonomous weapons systems.  The report reflected the discussions in an objective manner and did not contain any recommendations.

CHILE said Chile would like to see civil society present here in the room.  He would soon be leaving Geneva and during his time here, it had been impossible to ignore the colossal gap between what was happening in the Council Chamber and the concerns of citizens everywhere in the world.  Rapid development seen in recent decades required the Conference to take a modern approach, leaving behind Cold War mentality.  This was essential if they wanted global security and the security of individuals.  What was decided in this Council Chamber had repercussions in all parts of the world and the Conference must shoulder the challenge and ensure that its conduct fell within the new trends if it wanted to gain credibility.  The current multilateral system did not allow for the due contribution of civil society in the Conference.  Chile hoped that soon civil society would be able to sit next to them, not to sit up in the gallery.  Chile thanked the Open-ended Working Group on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations for confirming that the full inclusion of civil society was a real need. 

BRAZIL said from Brazil’s perspective, the 2013 session of the Open-ended Working Group on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations was highly successful, as it allowed an open, transparent and comprehensive exchange of views on the critical issue of nuclear disarmament.  In order to achieve the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, the New Agenda Coalition proposed a set of interim measures, including a clear and legally binding and multilateral commitment, on the part of all States, to the goal of nuclear disarmament with clearly defined benchmarks; time bound, progressive and irreversible reduction of nuclear arsenals; the universalization of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty; the provision of legally binding negative security assurances; and prohibition of the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and dealing with already existing stocks of such material.  If the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons was still not within their grasp, it was because a key element was lacking: they needed to focus on the need for political will from some major actors.  In the Conference, Brazil was ready to consider proposals for the commencement of negotiations on any of the four core issues.  Brazil did not endorse the view that only the issue of a treaty on fissile material was ripe for negotiations.  The deadlock in the Conference would only be overcome with flexibility and desire to compromise, not only on one item of the agenda but on all its core issues.  The Conference urgently needed to get back to negotiation mode.

NEW ZEALAND said the Open-ended Working Group on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations was a unique United Nations forum, open to all Member States and with the full participation of civil society.  Its value lay not only in its broad membership and its clear mandate; it was unencumbered by rules of procedure that allowed the few to dictate to the many.  It allowed them to consider fresh perspectives and to re-examine old assumptions.  New Zealand was pleased to have been able to contribute to the deliberations of the Working Group through their moderation of a panel discussion on international law relevant to the use of nuclear weapons, and through their contribution as part of the New Agenda Coalition, which presented a paper to the Working Group elaborating the elements required for the achievement and maintenance of a world free of nuclear weapons.

AUSTRIA welcomed the briefings on the work of the Open-ended Working Group on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations, the Group of Governmental Experts to make recommendations on possible aspects that could contribute to but not negotiate a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, the  informal expert meeting on lethal autonomous weapons systems, and the Group of Governmental Experts on transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities.  The informal expert meeting on lethal autonomous weapons had proved to be a valuable forum in which discussions on this important issue should be continued, alongside with other relevant fora.  The work of the Open-ended Working Group on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations filled a void, given the stalemate in both the Conference on Disarmament and the United Nations Disarmament Commission.  It allowed for open and constructive discussions, and its report contained valuable input on the question of how to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations.  One factor for the productive debate was the inclusive nature of the Open-ended Working Group.  Austria believed that other bodies of the United Nations disarmament machinery should not only take note of the report but also

MYANMAR said Myanmar attached great importance to the Conference on Disarmament, which was the sole multilateral disarmament negotiating forum created by the First Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly devoted to Disarmament.  For Myanmar, nuclear disarmament remained the highest priority on their disarmament agenda.  The continued presence of nuclear weapons and their deployment stood as one of the most serious security challenges posing the greatest threat to the very existence of mankind.  The only absolute guarantee against a nuclear catastrophe was the complete and total elimination of nuclear weapons. 

COLOMBIA commended the work of the Open-Ended Working Group on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations and was pleased that the Chair fell on the shoulder of Costa Rica, another Latin American country.  Non-nuclear weapon States also had an important role to play, although special responsibility lay on nuclear weapon States when it came to achieving nuclear disarmament.  The report of the Open-ended Working Group would help the Conference fulfil its mandate, but Colombia supported what the Group said that they must focus on the common issues, rather than on the differences.  It was important to consider all the issues taken up by the Working Group.  The issue of strengthening nuclear weapon free zones was of particular importance.  Colombia fully supported strengthening the role of such zones, but it also pushed for the withdrawal of conditions set by nuclear weapon States and it wanted to establish new nuclear weapon free zones.  The recommendation made by the Working Group on the evolution on international law on the lawfulness of the threat and use of nuclear threats merited in-depth analysis.  Any use of nuclear weapons would have catastrophic human consequences.  The report submitted by the Open-ended Working Group was of utmost importance in taking forward multilateral work on nuclear disarmament.

The NETHERLANDS said the Conference needed to find new ways forward as it had responsibilities towards the multilateral world.  This responsibility brought with it accountability for what they accomplished and what they would accomplish.  The Netherland thanks Canada for the presentation of the work of the Group of Governmental Experts on fissile material and Costa Rica for the presentation of the work of the Open-Ended Working Group on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations.  The Netherlands had actively participated in the debate of the Open-Ended Working Group, which had been a valuable exercise as the discussion on nuclear disarmament had been open to all, including States and civil society.  It had set high standards, and said the focus should be on finding common ground, not on focusing on the differences.  The Netherlands wanted to explore further the issue of building blocks as it believed that with the identification of different building blocks, they may find common ground to move forward on nuclear disarmament.  Concerning the work of the informal meeting of experts on lethal autonomous weapons systems, the level of the discussion had been high and well informed, and civil society had played a constructive role.  This was a start, but a lot remained to be done, including the need for further research.

MEXICO thanked Costa Rica for the report on the work of the Open-Ended Working Group on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations.  The report noted that the Working Group allowed States, international organizations and civil society to have open and interactive discussions on the importance of multilateralism in order to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.  It was very important to have substantive activity.  Mexico regretted that there was no place for the active participation of civil society in the upcoming informal meetings of the schedule of activities and urged the President to reconsider this decision.

URUGUAY thanked Costa Rica, the Chair of the Open-Ended Working Group on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations.  Like Uruguay, Costa Rica was an observer to the Conference on Disarmament.  The issue of disarmament was an interest shared by all countries, and this showed that observer States could make a good contribution.  States shared concerns as to the threats of nuclear weapons in terms of health, the environment, security and humanitarian impact.  Uruguay was willing to make positive contributions to all discussions on nuclear disarmament.

PAKISTAN said Pakistan would give careful consideration to the statement of the Acting Secretary-General of the Conference.  Pakistan requested the floor to address the Group of Governmental Experts to make recommendations on possible aspects that could contribute to but not negotiate a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.  Pakistan would address the presentations of the other groups at a later stage.  Pakistan had voted against the resolution that established the Group of Governmental Experts and had chosen not to participate in its work.  Pakistan did this because it believed in the established role of the Conference on Disarmament as the single multilateral negotiating forum for disarmament, and did not welcome a dilution of its role.  The Shannon mandate had outlived its utility as a negotiating mandate and was no longer acceptable to Pakistan and other delegations.  The discussion mandate assigned to the Group of Governmental Experts could easily have been fulfilled by the Conference, as the Group brought no added value to the issue.  While the Group of Governmental Experts was working on technical issues, it was only looking at this one issue in isolation, without addressing underlying security concerns that were stopping the work of the Conference.  The work of the Group was not contributing to the issue, but provided a false sense of progress on only one issue.  Also, the work of this Group was partial and lacked universality.  Pakistan and several other nuclear weapon States did not participate in the work of the Group and could not endorse its outcome.  Pakistan would not be bound in any manner to endorse any recommendations made by the Group.  The key to the deadlock lay with the security concerns of Member States.  Pakistan would continue to contribute actively in the work of the Conference on Disarmament.

SWITZERLAND thanked the Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts on Outer Space and the other different speakers who reported on the different groups.  The report of the work of the Group of Governmental Experts on Outer Space contained a significant number of important recommendations that would serve the Conference.  The Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts to make recommendations on possible aspects that could contribute to but not negotiate a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices was thanked for her commitment to the subject which was core to the work of the Conference and Switzerland hoped that it would help to encourage progress in the Conference.  Switzerland had taken a direct part in the work of the Open-Ended Working Group on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations and thanked its Chair for his expert manner.  Switzerland had great esteem for the work of the Open-Ended Working Group, which was very productive.  The report that was adopted by consensus reflected the wealth of the debate and the positive atmosphere.  It had made progress on several topics and had identified areas where more work was required.  The work of the Open-Ended Working Group was not an end in itself.  It had formulated a considerable number of suggestions which they should now pursue and develop and Switzerland hoped that the Conference would base itself on the work of the group as they started to discuss disarmament issues.

Switzerland also thanked France for talking about the Informal Meeting of Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems, which was the first meeting characterized by active engagement by both delegations and civil society.  The exchange had highlighted the interest in this topic and had allowed them to clarify some topics and issues, while highlighting the complexity of the issue.  The discussions had also highlighted several elements, like the element of effective human control.  It would be necessary for the Convention on Conventional Weapons to continue to work further on this topic.

INDONESIA thanked Costa Rica for chairing the Open-Ended Working Group on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations, which had met in May, June and August 2013 and provided an opportunity to governments and civil society to discuss and take forward nuclear disarmament issues.  Indonesia believed that the Open-Ended Working Group provided valuable input to their deliberations in the Conference, and pending the commencement of the Conference to adopt a programme of work, there was merit for the Open-Ended Working Group to continue its work. 

AUSTRALIA thanked the Acting Secretary-General of the Conference for his thought provoking contribution and thanked Russia, Canada, Costa Rica and France for their presentations and substantive contributions.  Australia would comment on the work of the Group of Governmental Experts to make recommendations on possible aspects that could contribute to but not negotiate a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices and of the Open-Ended Working Group on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations. Australia thanked Canada for chairing the Group of Governmental Experts.  An effectively verifiable treaty had the potential to deliver substantial benefits for the security of all States.  The Group was an opportunity to make progress on this crucial issue, but they should focus on definitions and they needed to keep focused on the practical and technical issues.  Australia looked forward to the resumption of the second session on 11 August.  Australia was pleased to have contributed to the work of the Open-Ended Working Group and thanked Costa Rica for its presentation.  It was only through open and constructive discussions that they could make progress on multilateral negotiations to bring about nuclear disarmament.  Australia remained interested in working with delegations to support initiatives like the work of the Open-Ended Working Group, in order to keep the momentum moving forward on nuclear disarmament.

TURKEY thanked the President and all other speakers who expressed sympathy and condolences to Turkey for the mine tragedy.  It these difficult times, such words were appreciated. 

FINLAND thanked the Acting Secretary-General of the Conference for his remarks as well as the presentations by Russia, Canada, Costa Rica and France.  Regarding the work of the Group of Governmental Experts to make recommendations on possible aspects that could contribute to but not negotiate a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, Finland was happy to provide it with Experts.  Finland understood that the work of the Group of Governmental Experts had started really well and had been able to focus on some very technical issues like definitions of fissile material and verification issues.  However, much work remained to be done.  Finland was confident that the Group of Governmental Experts would be able to produce a very useful report for the benefit of the General Assembly and the Conference on Disarmament to help with future negotiations.  Regarding the work of the Open-Ended Working Group on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations, it was a good example of how discussions could be open and inclusive, despite differences in opinion.  The participation of civil society had been a welcome flavour.  Finland welcomed the opportunity of the informal meeting of experts on lethal autonomous weapons systems which provided a welcome opportunity to work on this issue.

INDIA said India welcomed the report of the Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts on outer space transparency and confidence-building measures.  India gave importance to the report of the Group of Governmental Experts, but noted that it was not inclusive enough to include other space faring nations, including India, which could have enriched the content.  The report of the Group would be an important contribution, including to the work of the Conference which was the negotiating forum, as it worked on the issue of the prevention of an armed race in outer space.  India thanked the Chair of the Open-Ended Working Group on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations, but it had concerns regarding initiatives that took place outside of the Conference.  Still, India had participated in the work of the Working Group and noted in particular the particular way in which Costa Rica conducted the work to allow for an inclusive process and comprehensive discussions.  The report included several important proposals.  India took note that the process had been inclusive; however, the five main States possessing nuclear weapons were not part of the discussions, and any discussions on nuclear disarmament should be as inclusive as possible.  India welcomed the report of the Working Group as a contribution that would further enrich discussions in the Conference.

India noted carefully the suggestions made by the Acting Secretary-General of the Conference and would give them careful consideration.  India’s general views on the subject were that there was considerable scope for improving the working methods of the Conference.   India would participate in discussions to see how consensus could be reached on improving working methods in the Conference, but this was a process that needed to be taken forward in discussions among Member States themselves, and not between the Secretary-General of the Conference and Member States.  India was willing to look at all proposals, provided that they did not change the essential character of the Conference.  If its character was to be changed, this needed another Special Session of the General Assembly. 

ALGERIA said Algeria had taken note of the statements this morning and wanted to deal with some of the key issues expressed.  Algeria found the remarks of the Acting Secretary-General very useful and took note of the ideas and expressed gratitude to him for his commitment.  Algeria was open to any initiative that would make the work of the Conference emerge from the deadlock, but the problems which prevented the Conference from agreeing on a programme of work and making headway were much more profound problems that went beyond this body and had their origins in the policies of nuclear weapon States themselves.  If they improved the work of the Conference, the problems would remain intact and would not allow them to agree on a programme of work.  The establishment of the four groups demonstrated the importance of the issues tackled by these groups and reflected the failure of the Conference in meeting the demands of the international community to fulfil its mandate.  However, Algeria questioned the usefulness of this exercise.  The Conference was the sole multilateral negotiating forum for disarmament affairs, and should not be a body that only took note of reports.  The Conference should make use of the recommendations of these groups so that they could make headway and agree on a global and balanced programme of work that took in to consideration the security of all.

BELARUS said Belarus did not share the optimism expressed by countries on the results of the Open-Ended Working Group on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations.  Belarus had abstained for that reason in the corresponding resolution in the General Assembly last year.  Belarus had many comments on the organization and work of the Open-Ended Working Group.  Belarus regretted that information on which countries took part in the work of this forum had been secret, and did not agree with the evaluations expressed on the transparency of the work of this forum.  Information on the participating of civil society was absent in the outcome report.  Belarus understood why this had been done.  The initiators of this new platform had decided to keep the participants secret as they numbered no more than those in the Conference.  Belarus found that discussions without the participation of the key participants like nuclear weapon States were a dead end.   There were no prospects for the success of this work. 

REPUBLIC OF KOREA thanked the President and other speakers for expressing their solidarity with and condolences to the Republic of Korea.

EGYPT thanked the Acting Secretary-General of the Conference for his constructive remarks to reinvigorate the work of the Conference, and thanked the Russian Federation, Canada, Costa Rica and France for their presentations.  Egypt had participated in the work of the four groups on outer space, fissile material, nuclear disarmament and lethal autonomous weapons systems.  Egypt highlighted the work of the Open-Ended Working Group on nuclear disarmament negotiations, and it would try to benefit from all resources, including the Open-Ended Working Group, during its chairing of the schedule of activities informal discussion session on nuclear disarmament. 

UNITED STATES said the United States had listened with interest to the Acting Secretary-General and would study his remarks.  The United States would look at them in the context of the unique position of the Conference as the sole multilateral negotiating forum for disarmament affairs.  The United States had enjoyed participating in the Group of Governmental Experts on fissile material.  The useful discussion could inform the schedule of activity discussion on a fissile material cut-off treaty.

Ambassador TOSHIO SANO of Japan, outgoing President of the Conference on Disarmament, said he wished to make brief concluding remarks at the end of Japan’s presidency.  It had been an honour to serve as President of the Conference.  Japan respected and valued the Conference on Disarmament and placed great importance on disarmament.  The agreement on the schedule of activities was a modest but positive step in the work of the Conference, but it was not a goal in itself, he hoped it would pave the way for future negotiations and he looked forward to participating in the meetings.

Regarding the informal working group on a programme of work, they had held discussions yesterday.  It was a difficult task, but he remained committed to it.  Japan thanked Acting Secretary-General of the Conference and Acting Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, Michael Møller, for his thoughtful statement and concrete ideas today.  Japan firmly supported the strong will expressed by Mr. Møller to revitalize the Conference.  Japan also commended the spirit and work of the P6, which was functioning as a key component this year.  He said that since the stalemate continued, they should not lose a sense of urgency, knowing that there was good reason for the P6 to be active.  Kazakhstan would take over as President and Japan assured Kazakhstan of its continued engagement.


For use of the information media; not an official record

DC14/018E