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CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT HEARS FROM NEW ZEALAND AS NEW PRESIDENT, RUSSIA AND PAKISTAN

25 August 2015

The Conference on Disarmament this morning heard from New Zealand as incoming President of the Conference, from Russia on the prevention of an arms race in outer space, and from Pakistan on a fissile material treaty. 

Kate Donnelly, Deputy Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the Conference on Disarmament, speaking on behalf of Ambassador Dell Higgie of New Zealand, Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the Conference on Disarmament and incoming President of the Conference, who was currently in Mexico for the first conference of States parties to the Arms Trade Treaty, said it was an honour for New Zealand to assume the final Presidency of the Conference in 2015.  In the Conference, the schedule of activities organized by New Zealand’s predecessors had ensured plenty of opportunities to exchange views.  This also meant that they now had a rather compressed period to undertake the final task facing the Conference this year, reaching agreement on their annual report.  New Zealand remained committed to work with all delegations in an open and transparent manner and it would do its best to work effectively and efficiently to reach agreement on a report of the Conference that took into account the views of Members of the Conference. 

Russian Federation shared its vision of future progress in international fora on issues of security in outer space, including taking into account the results of the Group of Governmental Experts on Transparency in Confidence-Building Measures in Outer Space.  In the Conference on Disarmament, the the issue of preventing an arms race in outer space had been discussed for a decade.  It was Russia’s profound conviction that this issue was the issue that was most ripe for negotiation. 

Pakistan said that on 21 August it had submitted to the Conference on Disarmament secretariat a Working Paper on “Elements of a Fissile Material Treaty (FMT)”, for publication as an official document of the Conference.  Pakistan requested that the  Working Paper be reflected in the draft annual report.  An informal copy was circulated to the CD for information at the request of Pakistan.

Ms. Donnelly said New Zealand had sent out a tentative schedule and had also circulated the first draft of the annual report in English only.  It represented their best effort to present the work of the Conference this year. Any written comments should be sent by 5 p.m. on Monday, 31 August, and these comments would then be circulated among delegations. 

The next plenary will be held at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 2 September, followed by an informal plenary.

Statements

KATE DONNELLY, Deputy Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the Conference on Disarmament, speaking on behalf of Ambassador DELL HIGGIE of New Zealand, Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the Conference on Disarmament and  Incoming President of the Conference, who was currently in Mexico for the first conference of States parties to the Arms Trade Treaty, said it was an honour for New Zealand to assume the final Presidency of the Conference in 2015.  She expressed her appreciation to her P6 predecessors for their efforts in trying to get the Conference on Disarmament back to work this year and regretted that a breakthrough remained elusive.  It was inescapable that however useful delegations may have found the informal discussions that had taken place this year, once again, the Conference had failed to deliver what was required and expected of it.  New Zealand also shared regret that the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference had failed to deliver an outcome.  New Zealand felt particularly keenly the absence of a progressive outcome on nuclear disarmament, one that would have responded to the overwhelming call for urgent action, including in light of their increased knowledge concerning the risks and catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons.  The status quo met no definition of sufficiency and no definition of progress. 

The news was not so bleak as regards all disarmament control efforts.  The stalemate facing the Conference on Disarmament, and also the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty this year, was not to be found in all disarmament fora.  The first conference of States parties to the Arms Trade Treaty was taking place in Cancun, Mexico.  Equally, the States parties to the Conventions on Cluster Munitions and Anti-Personnel Landmines had also continued efforts to universalize and fully implement those treaties.  They should also not overlook efforts by States to ensure that longstanding treaties remained relevant and able to respond adequately to new developments. 

In the Conference, the schedule of activities organized by New Zealand’s predecessors had ensured plenty of opportunities to exchange views.  This also meant that they now had a rather compressed period to undertake the final task facing the Conference this year, reaching agreement on their annual report.  New Zealand remained committed to work with all delegations in an open and transparent manner and it would do its best to work effectively and efficiently to reach agreement on a report of the Conference that took into account the views of Members of the Conference. 

Russian Federation said it would be speaking today both as the representative of Russia and as the Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts on Transparency in Confidence-Building Measures in Outer Space held in 2012 and 2014.  Today, he wished to share his vision of future progress in international fora on issues of security in outer space, including taking into account the results of the Group of Governmental Experts on Transparency in Confidence-Building Measures in Outer Space.  As Chair, Russia had already had the opportunity to inform the Conference on the results of the work of the Working Group, which completed its work two years ago.  The report was prepared by 15 Governmental Experts, but it reflected the contributions of many other States.  The strong support of the conclusions was testified to by the adoption of the General Assembly resolution 68/50 that was adopted by consensus, the first consensus resolution by the General Assembly on the issue of security in outer space. 

Speaking on the contribution of the Conference on Disarmament in the preparation of the report of the Group of Governmental Expert and its role as an institutional memory, Russia recalled that along with China in 2002, they submitted a working document on transparency in confidence-building measures in outer space, which gave impetus to the discussion of this topic.  In 2006, Russia and China submitted structured proposals on transparency in confidence-building measures in outer space, which included information on notification and on consultation measures.  If the Conference looked at the documents that he had just mentioned, as well as at the draft international code of conduct in outer space submitted by the European Union in  2008, and compared them with the provisions of the report of the Group of Governmental Experts, they would find many common, even identical elements in them.  These documents enshrined already proven measures, contained in the five key conventions and agreements dealing with outer space issues.  The task of the Group of Governmental Experts had not been to reinvent the wheel, but rather to structure and compile the transparency and confidence-building measures that were already on the table.  The main difference between the documents of the Conference and the draft code of conduct was that the report looked at the issue of space security in an integrated and comprehensive manner.  However, there were still common issues of security in outer space.  Drawing the line between civil, military and technical aspects was extremely difficult or even impossible.  It was clear that any object sent into orbit was a potential threat to space groups.  The conclusions of the report of the Group of Governmental Experts spoke about common problems of ensuring security in outer space, pointing to the experience but without encroaching on the competence of various mechanisms. 

In the Conference on Disarmament, they had been discussing the issue of preventing an arms race in outer space for a decade.  This agenda item was constantly shifted from one draft programme of work to another.  It was Russia’s profound conviction that this issue was the issue that was most ripe for negotiation.  In 2008, Russia and China had submitted a draft treaty on the prevention of the deployment of weapons in outer space, and had presented a revised version of it last year.  The Conference had held substantive discussions on this draft which showed wide support for it.  Russia believed that confidence building measures should not replace a legally minding verification mechanism but they could create added value in terms of preventing or reducing areas of vagueness, doubt or suspicion.  

Russia wished the Conference on Disarmament a way out of the long stalemate it had been in and the adoption of a programme of work and the beginning of substantive consideration of issues relating to prevention of an arms race in outer space. 

Pakistan thanked New Zealand for the early circulation of the first draft of the annual report.  Pakistan was currently studying the text and would get back with its views and comments on the report in due time.  Pakistan on 21 August submitted to the Conference on Disarmament secretariat a Working Paper on “Elements of a Fissile Material Treaty (FMT)”, for publication as an official document of the Conference.  Pakistan requested that the Working Paper be reflected in the draft annual report. 
Pakistan had first submitted this Working Paper on 9 July 2015 during the informal discussions on the ban of the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices.  The most significant change between the two papers pertained to what had been described under category 1.2 as non-weaponized fissile material.  In light of comments from other Conference Members, Pakistan had removed the first option and only put forward the second option of mutual and balanced reductions of such fissile material stocks on a regional or global basis..  The Working Paper was an attempt by Pakistan to enrich the debate in the Conference on the issue of banning fissile material production, in particular on the issue of covering existing stocks in the treaty’s scope.

KATE DONNELLY, Deputy Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the Conference on Disarmament, outlining New Zealand’s approach to the Presidency, said they had sent out a tentative schedule and had also circulated the first draft of the annual report.  It reflected their best effort to present the work of the Conference this year and to balance the different views that existed on it.  It had been created with the help of the Secretariat and in light of the extensive bilateral consultations undertaken to date.  There remained some gaps in the text.  Any written comments should be sent by 5 p.m. on Monday, 31 August, and these comments would then be circulated among delegations.  The next plenary would be held at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 2 September, to discuss the draft report, followed by an informal plenary.  New Zealand remained available to any delegation that may wish to share its views on the process they had outlined or on the substance of the documents.


For use of the information media; not an official record

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