Deputy Assistant Secretary of State of United States Speaks, as do Germany, Chile, India, Netherlands, Russian Federation, India, Belarus and Iran
26 June 2013
The Conference on Disarmament on 25 June was addressed by the Foreign Minister of Iraq, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, and the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State of the United States, as well Germany, Chile, India, Netherlands, Russian Federation, India, Belarus and Iran.
Ambassador Mohammad Sabir Ismail of Iraq, incoming President of the Conference on Disarmament, said it was a great honour for him and for Iraq to assume the presidency of the Conference on Disarmament. As President, he would try to facilitate the deliberations by holding consultations with delegations and regional groups. He urged all Member States to show flexibility to allow the Conference to end its deadlock once and for all. After failing several times to adopt a programme of work during 2013 sessions, States should think seriously about obstacles and differences that had prevented the Conference from reaching a programme of work. Consequently, and should discuss different elements and positions in order to converge the views.
Hoshyar Zebari, Foreign Minister of Iraq, said Iraq attached importance to disarmament and non-proliferation treaties and conventions because global accession to these international instruments and full compliance with them and the total elimination of weapons of mass destruction could safeguard the international community against the use of threat of use of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear arms. The Conference on Disarmament was particularly important for Iraq as it was the sole multilateral negotiating forum on disarmament issues. The Conference had a good record. Unfortunately, it was now going through a very complicated period and decisive crossroads, in light of increasing regional crises, terrorist threats and increased threat of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It was of paramount importance for the Conference to redouble its efforts to reach agreement on a comprehensive and balanced programme of work and to move and work on the agenda items of the Conference.
Angela Kane, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said those who worked at the United Nations continued to respect the vitally important role that the Conference played in the negotiation of multilateral legal obligations in the field of disarmament. She stressed that making laws in disarmament is, not surprisingly, a very time-consuming process, sometimes agonizingly so as International law tends to develop incrementally in response to events and its very permanence and obligatory character quite naturally leads States to be careful in adopting new legal norms, which often entails a long diplomatic process. The public and many Member States were justified in voicing their frustration over the failure of the Conference to fulfil its mandate as the world’s “single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum.” These frustrations had given rise to real doubts about whether the Conference was still capable of performing this function, given the stalemate that it had been unable to break due to chronic differences over priorities and over the scope of application of its consensus rule. This impasse, year after year, had led to many to propose the establishment of alternative negotiating arenas. The longer the stalemate existed, the greater would be the temptation to pursue these options.
Anita Friedt, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State of the United States, said that from its inception, the Conference on Disarmament had been designed to be a negotiating body. It had fulfilled that role in the past, but unfortunately, it had failed consistently in recent years to live up to its promise. It was disappointing that for the better part of a generation, the Conference had failed to produce any concrete multilateral arms control agreement of any kind. In particular, the Conference had continued to fall far short of its clear mandate to begin immediate negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty. Though the Conference had fallen short to date, the United States was prepared to roll up its sleeves and start working now with everyone to ensure a strong, relevant and robust Conference on Disarmament that was fulfilling its mandate and building on its legacy as the preeminent multilateral disarmament forum.
Ambassador Hellmut Hoffmann of Germany, Ambassador Pedro Oyarce of Chile, Ambassador Sujata Mehta of India and Ambassador Paul Van Den Ijssel of the Netherlands made farewell statements.
The Russian Federation, India, Belarus and Iran raised concerns about the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2014-2015 (A/68/6 (Sect.4).
Today was the last public plenary of the second part of the 2013 session of the Conference on Disarmament. The next plenary of the Conference on Disarmament will take place at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 30 July. The third and last part of the 2013 session of the Conference will take place from 29 July to 13 September.
Ambassador MOHAMMAD SABIR ISMAIL of Iraq, Incoming President of the Conference on Disarmament, said it was a great honour for him and for Iraq to assume the presidency of the Conference on Disarmament. Iraq took this task seriously and on the basis of its foreign policy principles of international peace, security and cooperation. Despite the deadlock that prevented the Conference from reaching a comprehensive and balanced programme of work for over 16 years, all were committed to move forward in order to explore all available options and alternatives leading to acceptable solutions to all Member States enabling the Conference to resume its mandated work and vital role. Today, as announced last week, the Conference was receiving the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iraq on the occasion of the commencement of Iraq’s presidency of the Conference.
HOSHYAR ZEBARI, Foreign Minister of Iraq, reaffirmed Iraq’s commitment to all the conventions and treaties in the disarmament and non-proliferation field in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of Iraq. The Government attached great importance to total and comprehensive disarmament as the arms race did not lead to peace and stability, rather it caused instability. The Government attached importance to disarmament and non-proliferation treaties and conventions because global accession to these international instruments and full compliance with them and the total elimination of weapons could safeguard the international community against the use of threat of use of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear arms. Iraq had acceded to all the main disarmament treaties and reaffirmed its commitment to implement all their provisions and requirements.
The Conference on Disarmament was particularly important for Iraq as it was the sole multilateral negotiating forum on disarmament issues. The Conference had a good record. Unfortunately, it was now going through a very complicated period and decisive crossroads, in light of increasing regional crises, terrorist threats and increased threat of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. All this undermined international stability. The Conference had failed for more than 17 years to carry out its negotiating role as it had not agreed on a programme of work. It was of paramount importance for the Conference to redouble its efforts to reach agreement on a comprehensive and balanced programme of work and to move and work on the agenda items of the Conference. Iraq would work with all in order to reach agreement with all parties for the good of international peace and security. Iraq agreed with many States that nuclear disarmament must be the topmost priority for the Conference on Disarmament. Complete nuclear disarmament should be the first priority as the destructive nature of nuclear weapons made their total elimination a necessity for the good of mankind. Iraq recognized the inalienable right of all States, particularly developing States, to produce and use nuclear technology for peaceful use in order to ensure economic growth, as long as their work came under the monitoring of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The Minister outlined Iraq’s view point on the main issue in front of the Conference. On nuclear disarmament, the international scene had witnessed positive steps. However, the maintenance of nuclear arsenals and the development of new kinds of such weapons and delivery systems was a cause of concern. Iraq encouraged any efforts or negotiations between nuclear weapon States to seriously reduce their nuclear arsenals. The establishment of nuclear free weapon zones would contribute to this. On negative security assurances, it was important to agree on an international, binding and legal instrument through which nuclear weapon States provided safeguards to non nuclear weapon States. However, negative security assurances could not be a substitute for total and complete nuclear disarmament. The Conference should redouble its efforts to reach such a legally binding framework on this issue. The continued production of fissile materials was undermining nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation efforts. Iraq supported establishing a negotiating mandate in the Conference to establish a non-discriminatory and verifiable treaty that prohibited the production of fissile materials. On outer space, this was the common heritage of mankind and must be used only for peaceful purposes.
Finally, Iraq reaffirmed its full support to establish a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East and called on the international community to implement resolutions on this issue. Peace and stability in the Middle East required the removal of weapons of mass destruction, in particular nuclear weapons. The failure of international efforts to convene a conference in Helsinki in 2012 on this issue was an avoidance of implementing commitments made in the final document of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in 2010 and would have adverse effects on the credibility of the NPT and non-proliferation regime.
ANGELA KANE, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said those who worked at the United Nations continued to respect the vitally important role that the Conference played in the negotiation of multilateral legal obligations in the field of disarmament. Making laws in this difficult field of disarmament was, not surprisingly, a very time-consuming process, sometimes agonizingly so. While recognizing this unavoidable fact of diplomatic life, the public and many Member States were justified in voicing their frustration over the failure of the Conference to fulfil its mandate as the world’s “single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum.” These frustrations had given rise to real doubts about whether the Conference was still capable of performing this function, given the stalemate that it had been unable to break due to chronic differences over priorities and over the scope of application of its consensus rule. This impasse, year after year, had led to many to propose the establishment of alternative negotiating arenas. The longer the stalemate existed, the greater would be the temptation to pursue these options. She stressed that she would not welcome such a development because she valued very highly both the multilateral dimension of disarmament norms as well as the goals of ensuring that those norms were fully universal in scope.
Ms. Kane said that what they were seeing now was the Conference on disarmament becoming functionally immobilized by what might be called a “my priorities first” approach to diplomacy, that if not altered, would jeopardize its very existence as a vital component of the United Nations’ disarmament machinery. Where flexibility and compromise were necessary, they were seeing intransigence and the transformation of national negotiating positions into immovable objects. She implored all members of the Conference to heed the advice they had repeatedly received in person from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to resume the productive work of the Conference. She concluded by saying that there was history to be made in acting, and the time to act was now.
ANITA FRIEDT, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State of the United States, said that the United States stood with those who sought real and rapid progress on arms control and disarmament. In his address to the people of Berlin on 19 June, President Obama announced additional steps to align United States nuclear policies to the twenty-first century security environment. The ambitious endeavours announced in Berlin were the latest in a series of concrete steps the President had made to advance his 2009 Prague agenda. The work of the United States in Geneva was another important component of its efforts to uphold the shared responsibilities and strengthen the non-proliferation regime.
From its inception, the Conference had been designed to be a negotiating body. It had fulfilled that role in the past, but unfortunately, it had failed consistently in recent years to live up to its promise. It was disappointing that for the better part of a generation, the Conference had failed to produce any concrete multilateral arms control agreement of any kind. In particular, the Conference had continued to fall far short of its clear mandate to begin immediate negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty. They had yet to take even the key first step to adopt a substantive programme of work for the Conference that would allow them to make concrete progress on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty, as opposed to more talk without action. Though the Conference had fallen short to date, the United States remained committed to achieving the share long-term goal of nuclear disarmament, and remained focused on achieving concrete progress through practical steps. A key step to achieving that goal started here in Geneva with negotiation of a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty. This treaty was long overdue and necessary to set the foundation for further actions along the long road to disarmament. The United States’ delegation was prepared to roll up its sleeves and start working now with everyone to ensure a strong, relevant and robust Conference on Disarmament that was fulfilling its mandate and building on its legacy as the preeminent multilateral disarmament forum.
Ambassador MOHAMMAD SABIR ISMAIL of Iraq, Incoming President of the Conference on Disarmament, bid farewell to the Ambassadors of Chile, Germany, India and the Netherlands. Over the years, their contribution to the work of the Conference had been invaluable. On behalf of the Conference and Iraq, he wished them success and satisfaction in their new assignment. As this was his first plenary as President of the Conference, he said that he wanted to make a few remarks. He extended sincere thanks to his colleagues and predecessors for their valued efforts seeking solutions to restore the substantive work of the Conference throughout submitted draft programmes of work. It was regrettable that the Conference had not succeeded in adopting a programme of work, which would enable the Conference to perform its role and substantive work in accordance with its mandate. The fact that the Conference had not made progress for many years sent a negative message when assessing the Conference and its work, meanwhile, the international community was expecting tangible results and adoption of a programme of work, which would contribute to international peace and security. All parties concerned were seeking and willing to reach a comprehensive and balanced programme of work on the one hand, and on the other hand each party had its own interpretation on how to reach such a programme. He then suggested that States showed creativity to converge different views on the core issues of disarmament.
Ambassador Ismail said that as President of the Conference, he would try to facilitate the deliberations by holding consultations with delegations and regional groups to take note of various perspectives from the outcome of the consultations. The core disarmament would be negotiated and built upon the initiatives taken by his predecessors, taking into account the impediments and obstructions they had faced. He urged all Member States to show flexibility to allow the Conference to end its deadlock once and for all. After failing several times to adopt a programme of work during the 2013 session, they should think seriously about obstacles and differences that had prevented the Conference from reaching a programme of work. Consequently, they should discuss different elements and positions in order to converge the views. It was also his intention to discuss during the consultations with delegations the proposals that had been presented by the Secretary-General of the Conference, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, on 18 June.
Ambassador HELLMUT HOFFMANN of Germany said the task of States in the Conference on Disarmament was to work out global legal regimes for disarmament and non-proliferation. It needed to be stressed that their purview was not restricted to nuclear issues because there were also other issues on the agenda of the Conference, a fact which did not seem to be very present. He for one continued to feel for example that it would be very worth while indeed to seek a treaty in the conference banning the weaponization of space, even if this was not a prospect which needed to worry the world today or tomorrow. Unfortunately, he continued, States had not managed in 18 years to work continuously on a new treaty on any of their items on their decades-old agenda. While he understood that States had different wish lists, he said to not understand why it should be so difficult to agree to tackle a subject, which all of them who professed to seek a nuclear weapons free world should embrace as an important building bloc on the road to a nuclear weapons free world – namely banning the production of the fuel to build nuclear weapons.
The issue of the consensus rule was a much debated point in the Conference. The impression he had gained was that too many acted as if consensus meant that one must always insist on one’s own preferred outcome, rather than to accept in the interest of moving forward collectively what one could live with. In practice, this meant that the bar for any work mandate was set very high by some. But, he specified, the crucial question put to the Conference by the President was not whether they could support a given proposal, but only whether they objected to it. He mentioned that there is indeed a very significant difference between those two questions. As things stood, he said that one had to be doubtful whether the Conference would arrive at a substantive mandate any time soon. Such mandate, he added, could only be a mandate to work on a treaty and not just to discuss the agenda items. He also said that the glimmer of hope he still had was the sheer existence of the United Nations General Assembly Open Ended Working Group, as that could help make people realize that some real substantive flexibility was definitely required now if the Conference as an institution was not to be seriously damaged. He concluded by saying that the time might have come for the Conference to make yet another effort in taking a serious look at the entire range of its working methods, including the questions of expansion and the contribution civil society could and should make.
Ambassador PEDRO OYARCE of Chile said the Ambassador of Germany always provided good analysis with good views on political, historical and technical history, and added that it was important to remember that history when they were in the Council Chamber. It had been a privilege for him to work in the Conference on Disarmament. While it was not appropriate to talk about a disarmament elite in Geneva, he believed that States needed to develop a disarmament expertise, not just to defend their own interests but to be in a position to contribute to international peace and security. It had not been possible to find the necessary flexibility to approve a programme of work that allowed the Conference to engage in this concerted collective action that an inclusive body really needed. It was necessary to continue to work on operational multilateralism in the Conference.
He also said that the critical juncture for the Conference was not over as the standstill continued. It was a prolonged, entrenched stalemate, whose causes needed to be analysed to pursue viable alternatives. At the moment, the Conference on Disarmament was not inclusive and was not operational. This had repercussions on its legitimacy. The Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty was at the heart of all steps. States in the Conference needed to reflect on the concept of negotiation and consensus. During the last session, some States had insisted that the rule of consensus must be changed, but this was something they had worked on for decades. He suggested that States should agree on a format that ensured transparency and needed to find the best and most appropriate way to analyse and take into account the contributions of civil society, as the reality required an active contribution from civil society. During Chile’s presidency of the Conference, it had explored a flexible formula often referred to as “constructive ambiguity”. Efforts had been ongoing, but the key question was whether there was a line which they could not go through. Mr. Tokayev had given the Conference his ideas last week and they merited the consideration of the Conference. Most countries needed multilateralism to be functional because this contributed to the security of their countries. This was the meaning of multilateralism.
Ambassador SUJATA MEHTA of India said that this was the last time she would take the floor in the Conference and she thanked colleagues for the excellent cooperation that they had all shared. This year had been interested for her as she had had the privilege of being among the P6. This experience gave the delegations who preside over the Conference in turn a particular and very valuable perspective on the dynamics of the Conference on Disarmament. Since this was an experience that came only every 10 years, it was like a stroke of luck for her to serve as President. Her time in Geneva as Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament had been busy and active, contrary to the belief that this forum was inert and that nothing of value happened here. She said to believe that the diplomatic skills and experience that were available in the Conference were indeed of a very high order of excellence. Such skills and experience were worth preserving, as they would surely be the base for future progress in this field. The diplomacy of disarmament was a highly evolved, even if slightly arcane field, which newcomers might find somewhat daunting. She had received a warm welcome from the experts and specialists in this chamber, and those around them who offered perspectives on their work.
Ambassador PAUL VAN DEN IJSSEL of Netherlands said they regularly held discussions in the Council Chamber about the cause of the stagnation in the Conference on Disarmament. Was it mainly the way they worked and had organized themselves, or was it only the lack of political will? Those who advocated the latter position always pointed out that the conference had produced results while applying the rule of procedure and organizational arrangements still in force. But the last result the Conference produced dated from 17 years ago and it was hard to imagine an organization, let alone a company, that in such a situation – if still in existence- would not have looked extremely critically at the way it was organized and would have made some changes. It was also true that there was a lack of political will and courage to make the bold and often painful moves necessary to achieve real progress. Multilateralism meant that they had to deal with those they disagreed with, that they had to seek common ground with States that had a different assessment, different interests and opinions. That was done most effectively in a collegial and transparent atmosphere. Looking back at the last four years, he believed the Conference had lived up to this aspect of multilateralism. Multilateral work was almost inevitably a story of 999 steps backwards and 100 steps forward. Multilateral work was about trying the same things over and over against in the hope that there would be a time when they finally work. It was a story of finding the right mixture of ambition and realism. Ambition to determine the direction, realism dictated the pace: ambitious realism. Rapid success was not the most striking feature of multilateral work and most certainly not of multilateral disarmament, but they had to keep trying.
Russia drew attention to two matters that they had been discussing today. Russia was grateful to the delegation of the United States and to Ms. Anita Freidt who drew attention to what President Obama said in Berlin on the new initiative which of course required Russia’s very close consideration. Moscow would study the statement very closely indeed and give it due consideration and at some point of time he would give an answer to his distinguished American colleagues on this matter. It has already become clear that the new levels for strategic nuclear weapons that had been suggested, as the proposals to examine the issue of tactical nuclear weapons, were considered on the fact that nuclear weapon issues were being dealt with as part of the bilateral United States/Russian dialogue and not the multilateral format. Of course, here there was the role of other States as well, not only nuclear weapon States. A lack of balance in the conventional weapons sphere could lead to an arms race in other spheres, including in outer space. Russia would very carefully study the different proposals and was prepared for further dialogue on these issues.
Moving to the second part of the comment, Russia welcomed Ms. Kane’s presence and wanted to take advantage of her presence in the Council Chamber to touch on a few issues which Russia believed were ones that they were all concerned about here in Geneva. Their colleagues in New York had transmitted to them the draft budget for 2014/2015. The budget would be examined by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions and the United Nations General Assembly. It seemed to Russia that some of the issues were not administrative but political in nature, in particular, what motivated the change of the name of Office for Disarmament Affairs in Geneva and why was it being renamed. He specified that in the new budget proposal the current name “the Conference on Disarmament Secretariat and Conference Support Branch”, had become “the Geneva branch”. According to him, in bureaucratic language the new name suggested that the Conference on Disarmament did not exist any longer. Russia wanted then to know exactly what it meant in United Nations language. The second question that Russia had which was of great concern to its delegation was the re-distribution of responsibilities within the Office for Disarmament Affairs. As Russia had learnt, issues relating to biological weapons were going to be transferred to New York, and also in Geneva, there was the Group of Implementation Support for the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological Weapons and all of the activities linked to this Convention were centred here in Geneva. Earlier on, a decision had been adopted to transfer the outer space dossier from New York to Geneva, as one of the items on the agenda of the Conference on Disarmament was the prevention of an arms race in outer space. Now, as Russia understood, these duties were going to be cut. On the reduction of activities in the Department, he mentioned the Strategic Planning Unit, with three individuals working in it. Russia’s stance was that strategic planning should be dealt first and foremost by the Member States of the United Nations through taking the corresponding resolutions in the United Nations General Assembly, and he hoped that the decisions that they took here in this room demonstrated these strategic lines upon which they should be working.
India wished to speak briefly about the point raised by Russia with regard to the budgetary proposals of the Office for Disarmament Affairs, which some of their colleagues had been discussing in New York last week and which would continue to be discussed in the Committee for Programme and Coordination later this week and subsequently. India shared the concerns expressed by Russia with regard to some of the proposals in the budgetary suggestions that had come from the secretariat. India hoped that the concerns of Member States would be taken into account in further consideration of those proposals. India acknowledged that many of the suggestions belonged to the area of competence of the secretariat, but there were many areas where the prerogative of the initiative laid with Member States. India hoped that this important distinction was preserved as they went ahead.
ANGELA KANE, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said she had not been prepared for these statements but she was very happy to have the opportunity to give some additional information about the changes that they had proposed. She suggested that if the Conference on Disarmament and some Member States would like to discuss it further with her, she would welcome that opportunity. Ms. Kane said that she had appeared before the Committee for Programme and Coordination twice last week. UNODA had already been through the session in the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, and of course the Fifth Committee would take up the matter in the fall. First of all, she said, this was not a financial issue nor a budget proposal because it had no financial implication. It was simply in the context of the budget proposal that she was making some proposals that she would hope would find favour with Member States. Unfortunately, only two have spoken who do not find favour with the proposal, but on the other hand, there were many Member States who did find favour with it. Why was she making these changes? She had been in the job for 15 months now. When she looked at the universe of the staff and the universe of the tasks and mandates that had been given to them, she found that it could do with some rebalancing. First of all, the name change. What happened was that this long name only referred to the function that the branch had for serving the Conference on Disarmament, a very important function indeed, but there were also other issues that the Branch dealt with. UNODA believed that the proposed new name would better reflect what the branch did, namely that it also had the BWCISU (Implementation Support Unit for the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological Weapons), the CCWISU (Implementation Support Unit for the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons), and that it serviced some other bodies that were mandated by Member States. So by simply declaring it the UNODA Geneva Branch (United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs Geneva Branch), it would give a better impression.
In New York, the Office for Disarmament Affairs serviced the First Committee, the Disarmament Commission and other bodies, yet it was only called the Office for Disarmament Affairs. For these reasons, the proposed name change would be a better reflection of the activities of the Branch as well as a simplification. This Branch in Geneva was a substantive branch and she hoped that it was seen as such. Although one of its main functions was servicing the Conference on Disarmament, other issues were being dealt with as well. With regard to the Biological Weapons, she believed there was a misunderstanding. She clarified that the Weapons of Mass Destruction Branch in New York dealt with all weapons of mass destruction, nuclear, biological and chemical. That was a much larger issue that was traditionally always dealt with in New York, but it did not deal with the issues covered by the BWCISU here. When it came to the SPU (Strategic Planning Unit), what she found also was that there were many issues dealt with within ODA that were cross-cutting. Maybe the Strategic Planning Unit was a name that they simply picked because it existed in several other departments. Many departments, in fact, already had strategic planning units and this was an accepted nomenclature in the United Nations. Looking at the issues that UNODA dealt with, it occurred to her that many of them did not belong to one only Branch: they were not weapons of mass destruction nor conventional, but they fell in the universe that was beyond that. For this reason, they always had an issue with how they would handle these issues and, in light of the fact that giving them to one Branch or the other did not really fit, they decided to take staff from these existing Branches and bring them into this Unit. They could have called it the cross-cutting Unit, but that was a bit of an odd name.
They also made some other proposals, and she wanted to share them as they did not mention them. There was the Group of Governmental Experts and there was also what had traditionally been handled from Geneva for some years, and there were other programmes that were handled in New York. With regard to the Groups of Governmental Experts (GGE), Member States decided on them, then the location where the Group would meet would depend on where the issues under consideration were being handled. For example, the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty GGE would be handled in Geneva because there was a very close link with the Conference on Disarmament. There were other Groups like the GGE on confidence-building measures in outer space activities, which they felt would be better handled in Geneva because the prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS) was an item in the agenda of the CD. It was a way of thinking logically and seeing how all the pieces could fit together. The other issue was the Fellowship Programme, which used to be handled in New York, and then for some reason was moved to Geneva. She suggested that it be brought back to New York because the Fellows spent the largest amount of time in New York. When it came to the Programme, though, nothing changed, and there were no financial nor programme implications. The only change, in this regard was that the staff member handling the Fellowship Prorgamme would be sitting in New York rather than in Geneva. In return, what she did in order to balance the work load, was to propose to bring the Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters to Geneva, because the Board was also the Trustee for the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), located in Geneva. She added that both UNODA and UNIDIR had always felt that there was a bit of disconnect caused by the fact that the Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters was being handled in New York and not in Geneva. Also, she added that there were one or two members of the Board sitting here in Geneva, which would create an immediate linkage. She specified that whatever she was proposing would have no financial or staffing implications, but was simply a way of looking at the setup of the Office and making it more coherent in terms of how it operated.
She concluded by saying that, overall, the Office for Disarmament Affairs, in its five offices in New York, Geneva, Lome, Lima and Kathmandu, had 59 people, including support staff. It was an extremely small office. So what she was trying to do was to make it work more effectively, efficiently, and to gain the efficiencies that could be gained from the system. That was why she was making these proposals, with the underlying specification that there was no financial or programmatic implication.
Belarus echoed the concerns expressed by Russia and India concerning document A/68/6 (Sect.4) and its contents. Belarus was grateful to Ms. Kane for providing clarifications on this matter. However, to add to the concerns expressed by Russia and India, Belarus would like to focus the attention of all delegates on the fact that any redistribution of responsibilities and duties between the departments in Geneva and New York, in particular any attempt to take to New York certain issues relating to biological and conventional weapons, would lead to a need to increase the functional links between the delegations of Member States in Geneva and New York. At present, they were fully content with the current structure as the main topic relating to biological weapons and conventional weapons were dealt with here in Geneva. Belarus also considered that all of the functions that it was proposed to allocate to the new group, the Strategic Planning Unit (SPU) were functions currently being carried out by UNIDIR.
Iran thanked Ms. Kane for her statement. Iran had been informed by colleagues that these issues were of high importance due to the political implications that such decisions would have. Iran echoed the sentiments expressed by Russia, India and Belarus and hoped that they would be able to have a deep analysis of the whole issue in New York, and then come to a decision that would minimize any implication for the Conference on Disarmament and the ongoing activities in Geneva, in particular concerning the Strategic Planning Unit.
For use of information media; not an official record