CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT ADOPTS ANNUAL REPORT AND CONCLUDES 2011 SESSION
15 September 2011
The Conference on Disarmament this morning adopted its annual report to the General Assembly and concluded its 2011 session.
During the discussion that followed the adoption of the annual report, speakers expressed their disappointment and frustration with the situation of deadlock the Conference on Disarmament had experienced this year and for the failure of the Conference on Disarmament to implement its own programme of work.
One speaker said that the role of the Conference on Disarmament was to punch out legally binding documents and treaties via discussions and negotiations. Furthermore, speakers said that the Conference on Disarmament was a forum for the multilateral negotiation of treaties and not for political debates or confrontation. There was a danger of the Conference on Disarmament becoming a political showcase if their discussion and cooperation were excessively handled under the name of regional or other groups. It was time for all of the Member States and delegates to work together for their collective interests in disarmament, particularly nuclear disarmament, and regain the reputation of the body as a conference for creating multilateral treaties on disarmament.
Some speakers said that the next logical step would be to negotiate a verifiable Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty, and that it was their duty to make the best possible use of the human, intellectual and financial resources available. Several speakers appealed to members of the Conference on Disarmament to help the body comply with its mandate and make a substantial contribution to multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation, concluding that the possibility for the Conference on Disarmament to retrieve its role depended on all members.
With regard to the annual report, it was considered by several speakers that it was important that it reflected what had actually happened in the Conference this year and did refer, in a clear and concise manner, to the “situation of impasse”. The report will be presented to the United Nations General Assembly next week by Ambassador Rodolfo Reyes Rodriguez of Cuba, the President of the Conference on Disarmament.
Speaking this morning were China, Germany, Pakistan, Iraq, Portugal, Japan, Switzerland, Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Nigeria and Turkey.
The next meeting of the Conference will be on 23 January 2012.
RODOLFO REYES RODRIGUEZ (Cuba) the President of the Conference on Disarmament, bid farewell to the Permanent Representatives of Japan and Ecuador and expressed gratitude for their numerous and important contributions to the work and activities of the Conference. He welcomed the new Permanent Representatives of Switzerland, Tunisia and South Africa to the Conference on Disarmament.
QUN WANG (China) said that although the Conference on Disarmament had no extraordinary achievements this session it had done some practical work. All parties had demonstrated a positive will towards the work of the Conference on Disarmament, and members had attended formal and informal meetings with a constructive attitude towards breaking the Conference’s deadlock. The Conference on Disarmament was at a critical moment. It was hoped that parties reaffirmed confidence in the Conference on Disarmament, kept patient and dedicated, demonstrated creative thinking and strove to make an early start next year on areas of substantive work. China was willing to make their best effort to work with other parties for the advancement of the work of the Conference on Disarmament.
HELLMUT HOFFMANN (Germany) said Germany was delighted that the report had been adopted and thanked the South African delegate for her excellent work. The report reflected what was actually going on in the Conference on Disarmament and referred to “a situation of impasse”. Endeavours to put such references into the report were not merely an academic exercise. On the contrary it was important to be as clear and concise as possible about the deadlock in the report to the General Assembly in order to create necessary momentum and political will to overcome the unsatisfactory situation of impasse. He thanked the President for keeping the Conference together and working in the same direction in spite of initial positions that were pretty far apart from each another.
ZAMIR AKRAM (Pakistan) thanked the President for the transparent, constructive and efficient manner in which Conference on Disarmament report had been concluded and adopted. He also thanked the South African delegation for their hard work, and friends at the South Africa, Brazilian and Iranian Missions for their support.
MOHAMED ALI ALHAKIM (Iraq) paid special tribute to the group of countries which had worked with the President, namely South Africa, Iran and Brazil. He wished the President every success in representing the Conference at the United Nations General Assembly.
GRACA ANDRESEN GUIMARAES (Portugal) expressed appreciation and gratitude for remarkable way that the President had steered the Conference. She said that with a practical and straightforward approach, he had been a beacon of common sense. She gave best wishes for next week’s report to the General Assembly and offered support if needed.
AKIO SUDA (Japan) expressed heartfelt gratitude on behalf of the government and people of Japan for the encouragement and aid that governments and people had sent to Japan after the disastrous earthquake and tsunami of March 11 2011. He said that members to the Conference on Disarmament shared collective responsibility for its failure to implement its own programme of work for the remainder of 2009, and its inability to start any substantive work in the following two years until the present date. Several delegates attributed the stalemate to the ‘lack of political will of Member States’ and not to their way of dealing with the Conference on Disarmament’s function. Japan did not understand this argument, which appeared to say that they were just unlucky to be working in the midst of a period that was lacking in political will on disarmament. How disappointing this argument would appear to the world outside the Conference on Disarmament, where people and many political leaders stressed more than ever the importance of making progress in disarmament, particularly in nuclear disarmament. How can they deny the surge of collective political will of Member States when the Conference on Disarmament adopted CD/1864 by consensus? How could they begin to doubt the political will of so many States simply because one Member State came to openly demonstrate its reluctance to participate in the substantive work?
Japan, no less than any other country, was earnest in seeking the total elimination of nuclear weapons. That was why every year Japan submitted a United Nations resolution on the total elimination of those weapons, and why Japan, together with Australia, launched the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament. A nuclear weapons convention, as envisaged, consisted of many elements and steps including a complete test ban, a prohibition of fissile material for nuclear weapons, negative security assurances, a reduction and elimination of stocks of fissile materials, steps on nuclear doctrine and force posture, and so forth. Japan believed that all delegates were now ready to discuss total nuclear disarmament under agenda item 1 of the programme of work, since in the past the Conference had already adopted agenda CD/1864. However it was not realistic to expect all the Conference on Disarmament members to agree to the negotiation of such a comprehensive convention for now.
What they could and should do was start discussing the issue of ‘nuclear disarmament’, start the negotiation of a specific treaty which was mature enough for negotiations. Obviously a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty was the issue before them for immediate negotiation, as a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty was an indispensable part of any envisaged grant plan for the total elimination of nuclear weapons. The role of the Conference on Disarmament was to punch out, through discussions and negotiations, legally binding documents and treaties. After long-lasting stagnation it may not be so surprising if they had become more accustomed to statements and discussions made not for their collective work of disarmament, but for the interest of individual countries or groups. There were other forums appropriate for those political statements and discussions. The Conference on Disarmament was not one of them.
The existence of so-called regional groups in the Palais des Nations and their frequent meetings were reminiscent of the 1970s. The role, size and constituents of the four groups differed from one another. Some groups met mainly for the exchange of information and consultation, others went further and sought common positions and joint statements. Another was a group of just one. Constituents of the three main groups were a mixture of non-nuclear weapon states and nuclear-weapon states or nuclear possessing states. It was sometimes quite useful for members to have informal consultations and exchanges of views. But the Conference on Disarmament was a forum of 65 Member States and not of any groups of countries. No less importantly the Conference on Disarmament was a forum for the multilateral negotiation of treaties and not for political debates or confrontation. It was wrong therefore for the Conference on Disarmament to expect any significant role to be placed by groups. There was a danger of the Conference on Disarmament becoming a political showcase if our discussion and cooperation were excessively handled under the name of regional or other groups. It was time for all of the Member States and delegates to work together for our collective interests in disarmament, particularly nuclear disarmament, and regain the reputation of this body as a conference for creating multilateral treaties on disarmament.
ALEXANDRE FASEL (Switzerland) thanked the Conference on Disarmament for their warm welcome, and said he was pleased to be working with eminent ambassadors, presidency, delegates and secretariat. The report of the Conference on Disarmament to the United Nations General Assembly contained only generic references to the deadlock in which they had been for years. Nevertheless, the outside world would have no difficulty concluding that the body was facing an existential crisis. The continuing deadlock was regrettable because it hindered any possibility of negotiation of new agreements on disarmament and non-proliferation. This situation was particularly disturbing as it continued to erode the credibility of an important branch of the United Nations system. He assumed they all shared the sense of disappointment and even frustration about the situation. There was no consensus at this stage as to how to put the Conference on Disarmament on track in order for it to fulfil its noble and important mandate, and thus contribute to the security of peoples.
Mr. Fasel hoped that in years to come he would have the privilege to see the Conference on Disarmament once again become functional and action-orientated, working on a shared understanding of present threats and future challenges, with colleagues determined to work on global perspectives but also in terms of national considerations. It was their duty to make the best possible use of the human, intellectual and financial resources available to the Conference. In Geneva there was a remarkable concentration of disarmament experts, a specialised community based at universities, non-governmental organizations and private individuals, of which full-use must wisely be paid. They must use this potential, put aside our differences and work together to realise our common potential.
FERNANDO ROJAS (Peru) Speaking on behalf of several Latin American delegations: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela, and observer countries Costa Rice, Guatemala, Dominican Republic and Uruguay, said the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean had continually reiterated their commitment to nuclear disarmament, a subject to which they attached the highest priority. They had been pioneers in this respect, many years ago endorsing the Treaty of Tlatelolco and creating the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL), thus establishing the first nuclear weapons free zone in the world, in a highly populated region. This was a specific step forward to achieving a nuclear weapon free world. On several occasions in the last few years Member States had shared viewpoints on the subjects of this conference, proceeding in a flexible manner with a view to achieving consensus. The countries supported an early start to negotiations on a treaty on fissile material to manufacture of nuclear weapons via three priority issues identified by our delegations: nuclear disarmament, prevention of an arms race in outer space and negative security assurances.
The Latin American and Caribbean countries regretted that in this 2011 session the Conference on Disarmament neither adopted nor implemented a work programme because of the lack of consensus to deal with the items on the agenda. Over the past decade the Conference on Disarmament had not been able to do substantive work on the items on its agenda. This took them further away from their objective. For this reason they repeated that it was urgently necessary for the Conference on Disarmament to adopt a balanced broad and practical agenda of work that would take into account the priorities of the agenda and allow for the earliest commencement of negotiations on treaties to take place. They agree with the Colombian proposal and would continue to provide support for establishment of a Working Group to revitalize the Conference. They hoped this could be implemented in 2012. The countries appealed to all members of the Conference on Disarmament for this body to comply with its mandate and make a substantial contribution to multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation. The possibility for the Conference on Disarmament to retrieve its role depended on all of them.
MAURICIO MONTALVO (Ecuador) said that it would be a great honour to take on the task of President of the Conference on Disarmament next year and Ecuador would do its best to work professionally and help the body emerge from its current tricky situation. Obviously Ecuador endorsed the statement made by Peru on behalf of Latin American countries. He said he would like to add a few comments. Some of the members of the Conference would have liked to have something important, something substantial, to submit to the entire world, but the report must remain as it was. Nevertheless they do have a feeling of frustration and disappointment. This was inevitable. They would continue to harbour hopes that next year more significant progress would be made. There would be new features. They needed to be ready to confront any challenges frankly without the unfortunate fixed positions and evasiveness of the past few years. They needed the Conference on Disarmament to find meaning and justification to continue to exist, and for them to struggle against attempts to move the mandate of this body to other fora. Unfortunately they did not have specific achievements to show to the world, after this lengthy period of stagnation. He recited a famous Ecuadorian quotation: “In the vicissitudes of human history physical strength is not always decisive. Instead it is superior moral strength that can tip the political balance”. Ecuador trusted that the Conference on Disarmament would obey an ethical need and soon reinitiate its substantive work, and the balance would finally tip in favour of the human race, to the detriment of nuclear weapons.
RODOLFO REYES RODRIGUEZ (Cuba) the President of the Conference on Disarmament, then quoted the philosopher Brecht, who said that: “the people we really need are the ones who struggle throughout their lives”. He said that they were reminded of those who continued to struggle and committed to continuing to struggle for the success of the Conference on Disarmament.
JUAN JOSE GOMEZ CAMACHO (Mexico) regretted that a session of the Conference on Disarmament had concluded without it starting its substantive work. Mexico was disappointed, above all, that progress had not made on the agenda items. More particularly Mexico repeated that they were deeply disappointed at lack of progress in multi disarmament meetings. Mexico had provided unrestricted support to the Conference on Disarmament, because it was set up to be legally binding on the topic of arms control. Today it seemed unjustifiable to continue to sacrifice this goal for the protection of the status quo. Members should bear in mind that achieving a nuclear weapons free world largely depended on the decisions they were making in this Conference. The Conference on Disarmament remained in a state of lethargy and arms control continued to lead to initiatives by the international community outside of this forum to forge new agreements on disarmament, particularly in humanitarian areas.
SO SE PYONG (Democratic Peoples Republic Korea) confirmed that the Conference on Disarmament concluded its 2011 session by adopting its annual report this morning. He thanked the President for leading the conference this year to a satisfactory conclusion. There was a general feeling among Member States that no effort should be spared to fulfil the Conference on Disarmament’s work. They would continue in a positive atmosphere and start substantive discussions to reach consensus on a programme of work as soon as possible.
SYNDOPH P. ENDONI (Nigeria) speaking on a national basis, said that the adoption of this report should not be substituted for substantive work in this Conference. Distinguished diplomats had not been able to carry out mandatory work of multilateral disarmament negotiations and they hoped that next year they would see success in this area.
SYNDOPH P. ENDONI (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the Group of 21, said that from the point of view of the Group of 21, the President could always count on their support and participation. The Group of 21 expressed its sincere thanks and appreciation to the President, a fellow Group of 21 member, for leading the Conference on Disarmament to the adoption of the 2011 report, and expressed appreciation to the previous presidents of the Conference on Disarmament, three of whom had been Group of 21 members.
VOLKAN OSKIPER (Turkey) said that Turkey took note of the position on how to draft the resolution and the manner in which to follow through before the General Assembly. He wished to put on record in this plenary session that Turkey attached the highest importance to the rule of consensus, and that there had been no consensus on the proposed adoptions to the report or the proposed establishment of a Rapporteur.
For use of the information media; not an official record