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CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT HEARS FROM ITS PRESIDENT AND A NUMBER OF DELEGATIONS

14 March 2017

The Conference on Disarmament this morning held a public plenary, in which it heard from the President of the Conference on the draft proposed programme of work, as well as from the delegations of Brazil, Syria, Pakistan, Israel, China and New Zealand.

Alexey Borodavkin, Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations Office at Geneva and President of the Conference, informed the Conference about the progress made in revising the draft programme of work, which was now much closer to the possibility of enjoying consensus.  Informal consultations on the draft programme would continue. 

Brazil stressed that nuclear disarmament remained its highest priority among the core issues of the Conference.  A legally binding prohibition treaty would provide a point of departure for the actual elimination of nuclear weapons.

Syria believed that the establishment of nuclear-weapon free zones was very important for international security.  Syria supported the Russian initiative to combat chemical and biological terrorism.

Pakistan said that any possible solution, within or outside the Conference, would not work if it left any State feeling disproportionately vulnerable.  Discrimination against States and arbitrary revisionism of the global nuclear order had to be shunned.

Israel said that the blame for the failure of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in 2015 could not be put on Israel, which had participated in the Conference as an observer.

China and New Zealand expressed appreciation for the departing Ambassador of Pakistan.

The next public plenary of the Conference will be held on Friday, 17 March 2017 at 10 a.m.

Statements

ALEXEY BORODAVKIN, Permanent Representative of Russia and President of the Conference, referred to the officially distributed draft programme of work, which had been circulated the previous week.  Some of the proposals put forward by various delegations were mutually exclusive and could not all be incorporated in the draft document.  The phrase “illegal non-State militarized groups” in the draft text had been deleted, while “access to biological and toxic materials” had been added.  The revised draft document also referred to “emphasizing the need to resume substantive work”.  The draft was now much closer to the possibility of enjoying consensus, and informal consultations would continue until the afternoon on 16 March.  The draft programme of work could possibly be introduced for adoption at a public plenary on Friday, 17 March. 

Brazil believed that disarmament was essential for the strengthening of international peace and security, the prevention of nuclear war, and the economic and social advancement of all human beings.  Brazil was very concerned about the stalemate which had been preventing the adoption and implementation of a programme of work since 1996.  Nuclear disarmament remained Brazil’s highest priority among the core issues of the Conference.  Nuclear weapons, stressed Brazil, were the sole anthropogenic factor that could instantly destroy humanity and irreversibly change the Earth.  Over the past few years, Brazil had been actively engaged in the humanitarian initiative, which had led to the convening of a United Nations Conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons.  A prohibition treaty would provide a point of departure for the actual elimination of nuclear weapons, and Brazil encouraged all United Nations members to support and participate actively in the forthcoming negotiations.  Brazil also welcomed the decision by the Conference to establish a working group to discuss the way ahead.  Brazil was ready to join consensus emerging from consultations on the draft programme of work submitted for the consideration of the Conference the previous week.
  
Syria said that disarmament was part of the preservation of international peace and security.  Multilateral conventions in line with the Charter were the only sustainable manner to maintain international peace and security.  Syria was aware of the threats posed by nuclear weapons, and all anti-proliferation efforts ought to come hand in hand with nuclear disarmament.  Negotiations on nuclear disarmament should be preceded by confidence-building measures.  Syria supported an international, legally binding text prohibiting the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons.  Total nuclear disarmament was the only way to fully prevent the use of such weapons.  It was important to reach an agreement which would provide safeguards to non-nuclear weapons States.  The use of weapons in outer space should also be prohibited, stressed Syria.  The establishment of nuclear-weapon free zones was very important for international security.  Despite the agreement to establish such a zone in the Middle East, in line with Security Council resolutions of 1981 and 1991, that process was still blocked by Israel’s procrastination, which was still the only nuclear weapon State in the region.  The non-holding of the 2012 conference on the establishment of nuclear-weapons free zones was regrettable.  Chemical terrorism constituted an increasing threat to the international community; the possibility of use of chemical weapons by groups such as ISIL was worrisome.  Syria supported the Russian initiative to combat chemical and biological terrorism.

Pakistan opined that the Conference had been remarkably successful in producing landmark treaties, such as the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Comprehensive Nuclear Ban Treaty.  Of late, the results produced by the Conference seemed to be falling short of Pakistan’s expectations, but the forum itself could not be faulted for that situation.  A consistent observance of the principle of “equal and undiminished security for all States” should unlock the ongoing stalemate.  Any possible solution, within or outside the Conference, would not work if it left any State feeling disproportionately vulnerable.  Discrimination against States and arbitrary revisionism of the global nuclear order had to be shunned.  The Conference ought to be used realistically and productively, by having the flexibility to hold substantive discussions on the existing agenda items as well as on new security related issues.  Pakistan welcomed, with guarded optimism, the working group on the way ahead; the latest proposal by the President could also go a long way in getting the Conference back to substantive work.  The equal, full and effective participation of both men and women was one of the essential factors for the attainment of sustainable peace and security.  The departing Ambassador of Pakistan expressed her gratitude to all who had provided her with support, cooperation and friendship during her tenure.  

ALEXEY BORODAVKIN, Permanent Representative of Russia and President of the Conference, thanked the departing Ambassador of Pakistan Tehmina Janjua for her high level of commitment and professionalism, and for her intellectual contribution to other disarmament fora. 

Israel recognized the importance of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and noted that the blame for the failure of the Treaty’s Review Conference in 2015 could not be put on Israel, which had participated in the Conference as an observer.  Despite many rounds of consultations and Israel’s willingness to participate in further rounds, the Arab States had decided not to pursue that path.  Direct dialogue, which would address a broad range of security challenges, was essential.  Israel would continue to seek such dialogue, which would lead to a peaceful Middle East.

China welcomed the new Brazilian Ambassador and wished the best of luck to the departing Ambassador of Pakistan.

Syria said that the main danger threatening stability in the Middle East came from the fact that Israel possessed weapons of mass destruction.  It was the only party that did not want to join any relevant international instruments.  Israel had been opposed to the convening of a conference on the Middle East as a nuclear-weapons free zone, noted Syria.

New Zealand expressed appreciation for the role played by the departing Ambassador of Pakistan, particularly for the encouragement provided to women in diplomacy. 



For use of the information media; not an official record

DC17/013E