CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT OPENS SECOND PART OF ITS 2011 SESSION AND DISCUSSES THE ENLARGEMENT OF THE MEMBERSHIP OF THE CONFERENCE
Conference Concurs with Ban Ki-Moon’s Decision to Appoint Kassym-Jomart Tokayev as Secretary-General of the Conference
17 May 2011
The Conference on Disarmament this morning held the first plenary meeting of the second part of its 2011 session (16 May to 1 July) by discussing the expansion of the membership of the Conference and concurring with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s decision to appoint Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the new Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, as Secretary-General of the Conference.
Ambassador Wang Qun of China, the President of the Conference, said that he had received a letter from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon requesting him to seek the concurrence of the Conference on Disarmament regarding the appointment of Mr. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev as the Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament. Mr. Qun said that seeing no objection he would inform the Secretary-General of the Conference’s decision.
In the discussion on the enlargement of the membership of the Conference, several speakers noted that the Rules of Procedure stipulated that the membership of the Conference on Disarmament should be considered at regular intervals; however this had not been done since 2001. Speakers said that the Conference should consider expansion not just because it was required to do so in the Rules of Procedure, but also because this was the politically appropriate thing to do. Enlargement of the Conference would better reflect the world in which they lived as well as help to revitalize the forum by bringing in new ideas and increasing inclusiveness, transparency and democracy.
History had taught that an inclusive approach was far more effective and productive than an exclusive approach and many States expressed support for the appointment of a Special Rapporteur or Coordinator on the issue of enlargement. They stressed, however, that such an appointment would not prejudge or presume any particular outcome, but would merely serve to commence discussion of the issue.
Delegates said that the discussion on expansion was no substitute for the programme of work and substantive negotiations, but by bringing new life and fresh perspectives it could well represent a positive contribution to the revitalization of the Conference; many countries said they supported multilateralism and believed a genuine way to revitalize the Conference was through expanded membership.
Speaking this morning were Germany, Brazil, China, the Philippines on behalf of the Informal Group of Observer States, Bulgaria, European Union, Portugal, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Chile, Uruguay, Mexico and Turkey.
The President of the Conference concluded the meeting by saying that there would be informal meetings this week on agenda items 1 and 2 concerning the cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament and the prevention of nuclear war, including all related matters. The time of the next public plenary of the Conference was not announced.
WANG QUN, President of the Conference on Disarmament, (China), said that he had received a letter from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon requesting him to seek the concurrence of the Conference on Disarmament regarding the appointment of Mr. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev as the Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament. Mr. Qun said that seeing no objection he would inform the Secretary-General of the Conference’s decision. Mr. Tokayev was unable to attend today’s meeting, but he understood the workings of the Conference and would start attending meetings as soon as his appointment was confirmed.
HELLMUT HOFFMANN (Germany) said that in striving to build upon the renewed momentum currently enjoyed by the disarmament agenda, the Foreign Ministers of Australia, Canada, Chile, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates had decided in September 2010 to form a new cross-regional initiative called “Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative”. Recognizing the danger to humanity posed by the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons and the necessity to address increased proliferation risks, to decrease nuclear arsenals, to strengthen nuclear security and to improve nuclear safety, the 10 States involved considered it urgent to reduce nuclear risks and achieve tangible progress on the path towards a world free from nuclear weapons. The group met in Berlin on 30 April 2011 and issued the Berlin Statement which contained four concrete proposals for action on key elements of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference Action Plan: they would urge States who had not yet signed or ratified the treaty to do so; they would develop a draft of a standard reporting form for possible use by nuclear weapons States; they would continue to advocate bilaterally and multilaterally for the universal application of the International Atomic Energy Agency Additional Protocol in their respective regions; and they emphasized that negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty were high on their common agenda. It went without saying that Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative members would continue to work towards the immediate commencement of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty within the Conference on Disarmament. However, if the CD, in its 2011 session, remains unable to find agreement on launching Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty negotiations, the group will ask the UN General Assembly to address the issue and consider ways to proceed with the aim of beginning negotiations.
LUIZ FILIPE DE MACEDO SOARES (Brazil) addressed the issue of membership of the Conference on Disarmament. The Rules of Procedure established that membership of the Conference would be reviewed at regular intervals, yet since he had been in Geneva this matter had not been considered. This was not an issue that needed a specific item of the agenda, since its treatment was already ensured by the Rules of Procedure. Furthermore, no one could deny it was an important matter for the functioning of the Conference. One element to consider was that each year a considerable number of States who were not members of the Conference on Disarmament formally requested to participate in the work of the Conference. In 2011, 38 non-member States were welcomed by the Conference on Disarmament. Those States had shown their interest by making regular interventions and contributions. A number of them had formally manifested their interest in becoming full members of the Conference and these facts could not be ignored. Brazil therefore encouraged the Conference to engage in this debate. Brazil saw the expansion of the Conference on Disarmament with very positive eyes. They understood it would bring a richer and broader participation to this forum. They should remember that the Observer States in the Conference on Disarmament participated in other fora related to disarmament, including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and they could make important contributions to the work of the Conference. It was a discussion that was politically important and which would certainly contribute to the efforts towards disarmament.
LI YANG (China) said that they had listened attentively to the remarks on the expansion of membership in the Conference. This Conference was drawing the attention of the broader international community and according to the Rules of Procedure it should regularly review the issue of expansion. China attached great importance to the role played by Observer States in arms control and that over the years had expressed their interest in joining the Conference and they had been active in various fora. The Conference should seek to identify a solution acceptable to all parties and in line with the idea of consensus.
EVAN P. GARCIA (Philippines), speaking on behalf of the Informal Group of Observer States, thanked Mr. Qun for his expression of support for discussion of the issue of membership expansion in the Conference on Disarmament. The Informal Group of Observer States was formed in 2009 as a means for the Observer States to more effectively raise their collective concerns on membership expansion, and to encourage and facilitate Observers’ participation in the Conference. Starting last year they had made it a point to hold dialogues with each Conference on Disarmament President and they looked forward to working with the succeeding presidents of the Conference. Their call for the appointment of a Special Rapporteur/Coordinator was merely to commence discussion on this issue, and not to prejudge or presume any particular outcome, following the precedent set by the Conference on Disarmament in 2001. The Informal Group of Observer States looked forward to an early nomination of the Special Rapporteur.
DRAGOMIR ZAKOV (Bulgaria) said that Bulgaria considered the discussion on membership of the Conference on Disarmament to be a timely and important one. Bulgaria was a firm supporter of the enlargement of the Conference on Disarmament and considered requests from Observer States to be legitimate. It also believed that over the past 10 years the Conference had not reviewed the membership in accordance with the Rules of Procedure. Only cooperation would allow them to move forward and they should take further steps to enhance trust and confidence building. History had taught that an inclusive approach was far more effective and productive than an exclusive approach. Bulgaria supported a call for the appointment of a Special Rapporteur.
MARIANGELA ZAPPIA (European Union), reminded the attendees of their longstanding attachment to the enlargement of the Conference on Disarmament. The European Union supported the call made by the Informal Group of Observer States, including some European Union members, to appoint in 2011 a Special Coordinator on the expansion of Conference on Disarmament membership. She hoped they could make tangible progress on this issue during this year’s sessions. It was important to reflect on the membership for two reasons: the Rules of Procedure called for it and the time was right for expansion. The European Union was ready to work with other delegations and she stressed that it was their view that the nomination of a Special Coordinator did not prejudge any particular outcome on enlargement; it was the beginning of a process. The discussion on expansion was no substitute for the programme of work and substantive negotiations. In fact, by bringing new life and fresh perspectives it could well represent a positive contribution to the revitalization of the Conference.
GRACA ANDRESEN-GUIMARAES (Portugal) said Portugal fully subscribed to the statement from the European Union and said the Conference on Disarmament needed to get back to negotiating multilateral disarmament treaties. The Conference on Disarmament was eroding as every day that went by was a missed opportunity. A choice had to be made: finding a solution within this body or finding other option. The Conference on Disarmament still mattered, but it was here that enlargement came in. Rather than being a liability it was an opportunity for improved inclusiveness, transparency and democracy. An enlarged Conference on Disarmament would also better reflect today’s world and it would represent a powerful political statement about the relevance of the Conference in today’s world. Enlargement was not a solution in itself, but part of the solution to a lasting and healthy Conference. Portugal also supported the appointment of a Special Rapporteur on enlargement, which would not prejudge any particular outcome.
GERARD CORR (Ireland), adding remarks to those delivered on behalf of the European Union, said this year would represent 12 years of Conference on Disarmament membership for Ireland, but this was no time for celebration because in all that time the Conference on Disarmament had not engaged in substantive negotiations. Ireland sympathized with those Observer States that wanted to join and had not been allowed to despite having submitted their applications, some as long as 30 years ago. The further enlargement of the Conference was an issue that deserved immediate attention. Ireland hoped that progress could be made this year.
MUKHTAR TILEUBERDI (Kazakhstan), speaking on behalf of the Eastern European Group, said that inclusiveness and transparency and the strengthening of global security would be well served by an enlargement of the Conference on Disarmament. The Eastern European Group shared the calls to appoint a Special Rapporteur on enlargement and it was committed to engage in constructive consultations to address the issue of enlargement.
PEDRO OYARCE (Chile) said that access to and participation of all States should always be the subject of a debate and constructive discussion and in this context they supported to expansion of the Conference on Disarmament membership on two bases: on the rules and regulations of the Conference and politically. This should be used to strengthen the legitimacy of this forum as well as international interest in its work.
LAURA DUPUY (Uruguay) said Uruguay fully supported the remarks of Evan P. Garcia on behalf of the Informal Group of Observer States and endorsed the calls for a Special Coordinator for the enlargement process. Uruguay regretted however that the last experience of this sort was in 2001 and it was time to get down to a discussion of membership expansion. Uruguay also endorsed what countries had said regarding the hibernation of the Conference on Disarmament over the last 10 years and it placed them in a difficult situation of not being able to make changes this year. Uruguay supported multilateralism and believed a genuine way to revitalize the Conference was through expanded membership.
MARIA ONTONIETA JAQUEZ HUACUJA (Mexico) said that it was important to look at membership as an important part of the revitalization of the Conference. The participation of all countries was extremely important to achieve results in the area of disarmament. This opinion was endorsed by the General Assembly. These debates could not take the place of efforts devoted to making progress; they had to be careful that they did not change the focus of the Conference or its priorities or replace one topic with the other.
OGUZ DEMIRLAP (Turkey) said that the European Union statement had been made without consulting candidate countries for the European Union and he hoped this was not a sign that the European Union was becoming introverted. Turkey would welcome sustained progress on Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty and other agenda items as well within the framework of a balanced programme of work. The Conference should strive to maintain the focus on their main task, namely to come up with a programme of work and to start negotiations at the earliest convenience.
WANG QUN, President of the Conference on Disarmament, (China), concluded the meeting by saying that there would be informal meetings this week on agenda items 1 and 2 concerning the cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament and the prevention of nuclear war, including all related matters.
For use of the information media; not an official record