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CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT WELCOMES REPORT OF THE INFORMAL WORKING GROUP ON THE PROGRAMME OF WORK

11 August 2015

The Conference on Disarmament this morning held a meeting in which it discussed the report of the Co-Chair of the Informal Working Group on the Programme of Work, Ambassador of Finland Païvi Kairamo.  It heard statements from Finland, India, United States, China, Mexico, Russia, Pakistan, Switzerland, Belarus, New Zealand, France and the United Kingdom.

Henk Cor Van Der Kwast of the Netherlands, President of the Conference on Disarmament, informed about the request of Kyrgyzstan to participate in the work of the Conference as an observer in the 2015 session, to which the Conference agreed.

Finland, as the Co-Chair of the Informal Working Group on the Programme of Work, presented its report.  At this stage, a consensus could not be reached on any of the four core issues, but the current agenda was flexible enough to accommodate any other items. 

India said that a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons was ready for negotiation.  United States believed that the consultations would be useful in bringing the Conference back to work.  China said that its recommendations, such as that the Conference should work on promoting international security, had been taken into consideration.  Mexico reserved the right to insist that its position on the Informal Working Group be reflected in the 2015 annual report of the Conference.  Russia said that all of the key issues had been reflected objectively, revealing the situation that there could be no consensus on any specific part of the agenda.  Pakistan stated that the issue on which consensus should be easiest to achieve was on negotiating negative security assurances, which did not undermine the security interests of any State, and the ground for which already existed. 

Switzerland opined that the report related to the idea on engaging on the work other than the four core issues and triggering positive dynamic, which should be borne in mind when the work continues in 2016.  Belarus encouraged continuing efforts in that regard, which could help refresh the substantive work of the Conference.  New Zealand stressed that the role of the Conference was to negotiate legally binding agreements and not to engage in endless discussions on political agreements.   France said that an agreement did not necessarily need to be legally binding but could be political, which could help create conditions for further progress.  Italy fully agreed with the report’s conclusions, and was ready to take part in the consensus on adopting the report.  United Kingdom hoped that the Informal Working Group could be reestablished earlier the following year, so that negotiations could be recommenced and allowed more time.  

The Conference would hold a meeting on 17 August at 3 p.m. to take action on the report.


Statements

HENK COR VAN DER KWAST (Netherlands), President of the Conference on Disarmament, stated that Kyrgyzstan had requested to participate in the work of the Conference of Disarmament as an observer State.  As there were no objections, Kyrgyzstan was invited to participate to take part in the work of the Conference and its subsidiary bodies.

The President informed of several documents which had been issued: a letter by the Permanent Representative of New Zealand, on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition, to the Secretary-General of the Conference, containing a paper on Article 6 of the Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons; a working paper by Australia on the protection of sensitive information under the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty verification; a working paper by Australia on fissile material types potentially relevant for the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty verification; and the appointment of the Secretary-General of the Conference of the Disarmament.   

The President informed that the Co-Chair of the Informal Working Group on the Programme of Work, Ambassador of Finland Païvi Kairamo had a report on 7 August, which had been shared with the members of the Conference on the same day. 

Finland, as the Co-Chair of the Informal Working Group on the Programme of Work, informed that the consultations on programme of work had concluded, after having explored possibilities for progress on any agenda items.  Meetings had been held on 19 June and 3 July 2015, in which delegations had participated actively, exchanging views and proposals.  Finland recognized the challenges, including a very limited period of time for the consultations.  At this stage, a consensus could not be reached on any of the four core issues.  Among the conclusions of the report was that the focus on the core agenda should remain the priority.  Finland opined that, should a consensus emerge, the current agenda was flexible enough to accommodate any other items, but the primary objective of the Conference remained to negotiate legally binding agreements.   The Conference should continue to conduct structured, specific negotiations, and request input from scientific experts when needed. 

India said that the previous week had marked the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and reminded that such horrors were reminiscent of the danger of war.  India expressed appreciation for the work of the Ambassador of Finland for the very diligent consultations conducted, and supported the report, which largely reflected the points put forward.  The Conference on Disarmament remained the single multilateral negotiating forum whose mandate remained negotiation of legally binding documents.  Adoption of the programme of work should thus remain priority for the current and future Presidents.   The value of the Co-Chair’s report was on making structured discussions more meaningful, and the aim should be to continue to facilitate beginning of negotiations.   As far as India was concerned, a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons was ready for negotiation.  It was hoped that the Co-Chair’s report would represent a basis for a consensus decision.

United States expressed gratitude to the Finnish delegation for trying to draft up a programme of work, which was not an easy task.  United States believed that the consultations would be useful in bringing the Conference back to work.

China commended Finland’s efforts to promote the work of the Conference.  The report reflected quite comprehensively the work of the Informal Working Group.   Chinese recommendations, such as that the Conference should work on promoting international security, had been taken into consideration.  The report and its conclusions  provided a solid foundation for the Member States of the Conference to reach consensus on the Programme of Work, and China was ready to recommence substantive work as soon as possible. 

Mexico stated that it reserved the right to insist that its position on the Informal Working Group be reflected in the 2015 annual report of the Conference.  

Russian Federation thanked Finland for the large amount of complex work done.  All of the key issues had been reflected objectively, revealing the situation that there could be no consensus on any specific part of the agenda.  Nonetheless, it could give more direction to future efforts.   Considerable positive work had been done, and Russia supported it.

Pakistan expressed its appreciation to Finland for the consultations and the report based on them.  From the very beginning, Pakistan had appreciated that the task undertaken by Finland was a difficult and even thankless one.   Pakistan agreed with the conclusions expressed in the report, especially the idea that should a consensus emerge on any new item, the current agenda was flexible enough.  If there was no consensus on the existing agenda items, new items should be looked at, on which negotiations should be possible.  It was not a surprise that there were no concrete specific recommendations for negotiating any item on the agenda.   Due to the security concerns of States, consensus had not been possible on negotiating any agenda item, but that did not mean that the Conference should remain in the state of freeze.  In Pakistan’s view, the issue on which consensus should be easiest to achieve was on negotiating negative security assurances, which did not undermine the security interests of any State, and the ground for which already existed.

Switzerland congratulated Finland on the way it had conducted consultations in a very short time frame.  The work of the Informal Working Group was welcome, and its conclusions were relevant as they reflected a certain number of ideas raised during the consultations.  The report related to the idea on engaging on the work other than the four core issues and triggering positive dynamic, which should be borne in mind when the work continues in 2016.

Belarus thanked Finland for the excellent work done under very strict timelines.  Finland had tried to find new ways to adopt the programme of work beyond the core issues on the agenda, which was very helpful.  Belarus encouraged continuing efforts in that regard, which could help refresh the substantive work of the Conference.

New Zealand supported the capably drafted report which reflected different positions.  The role of the Conference was to negotiate legally binding agreements and not to engage in endless discussions on political agreements.  New Zealand would not want its support for the report to be seen as an endorsement of the ongoing discussions on the value of discussions as a possible precursor to eventual negotiations.

France congratulated Finland for the excellent work done and the broad consultations conducted with significant time constraints.   France fully supported the report and agreed with various conclusions in it.  If there was a consensus, different issues could be tackled within the Conference.  An agreement did not necessarily need to be legally binding but could be political, which could help create conditions for further progress. 

Italy appreciated Finland’s work on reaching the common ground to help the Conference overcome the current difficulties.  Italy fully agreed with the report’s conclusions, and was ready to take part in the consensus on adopting the report.

United Kingdom hoped that the Informal Working Group could be reestablished earlier the following year, so that negotiations could be recommenced and allowed more time.   

HENK COR VAN DER KWAST (Netherlands), President of the Conference on Disarmament, informed that the next Plenary meeting would take place on 17 August at 3 p.m, at which the Conference would take action on the report.


For use of the information media; not an official record

DC15/035E