Hears Statements from the Netherlands as President of the Conference, Iran, Austria, India and Mexico
17 August 2015
The Conference on Disarmament this afternoon adopted the report of the Co-Chair of the Informal Working Group on a Programme of Work, hearing statements by the Netherlands as President of the Conference, Iran, Austria, India and Mexico.
Ambassador Henk Cor Van Der Kwast of the Netherlands, President of the Conference on Disarmament, recalled that the report of the Co-Chair of the Informal Working Group on a Programme of Work, Ambassador Paivi Kairamo of Finland, had been submitted to him on 7 August, and had been presented to and discussed by the Conference on 11 August. The Conference had to consider and adopt the report and he gave the floor to delegations wishing to comment on the report.
Iran said the report was a reflection of the different positions on the four core issues, in particular nuclear disarmament which had the highest priority. As reflected in the report, the focus on the core agenda items, and in particular nuclear disarmament in Iran’s view, should remain the priority for the work of the Conference in order to find consensus on a comprehensive and balanced programme of work. The generic new ideas like politically binding instruments, known as soft law, should not distract the work of the Conference from its primary objectives as to negotiate legally binding treaties. It would be a false impression if they thought that by discussing very generic politically binding agreements as a means towards legally binding agreements, they could actively overcome the current impasse in the Conference. All efforts should be made towards substantive work with tangible legally binding, non-discriminatory outputs.
Austria appreciated that the report of the Informal Working Group reflected the various and partly quite different views of Member States. In this connection, Austria reiterated its view that the Conference on Disarmament’s mandate clearly was to negotiate legally binding arrangements in the field of disarmament, and Austria would not accept any future attempts to lower the expectations for the Conference to conduct such negotiations. Other bodies in the United Nations disarmament machinery were tasked with deliberative mandates. In view of the limited financial resources, they would have to assess the possible use of these scarce resources for informal discussions and activities more carefully in the future.
India wished to place on record its position on the report of the Informal Working Group. While India was disappointed that no agreement was possible on a programme of work, the Co-Chair’s report contained important suggestions on the way forward. CD1864 remained a viable programme of work. In India’s view, nothing in the report of the Informal Working Group changed the mandate of the Conference as the world’s sole disarmament negotiating forum whose main vocation was concluding legally binding treaties in the disarmament field. Also, nothing should be seen in the report as changing the rules of procedure of the Conference. The report would serve a useful purpose in building common ground for future negotiations.
Mexico reiterated its position that the re-establishment of the Informal Working Group to produce a Programme of Work in 2015 constituted a simulation to pretend that the Conference was working and fulfilling its mandate, when it was not. The three exercises held during 2013, 2014 and 2015 had not left the Conference any closer to the adoption of a programme of work, and trying to use the establishment and useless outcomes of the Informal Working Group to argue that the Conference was substantively working was nothing but a simulation. Mexico could not find a legitimate justification for the Conference not being able to agree on a programme of work in almost 20 years, or for multilateral negotiations on disarmament issues to wait until it was ready to do so. In 2015, in spite of tireless efforts, the Conference had shown once again its inability to recover its relevance as the multilateral disarmament negotiating forum.
The next plenary of the Conference will be held at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 18 August, which will be followed by informal discussions.
For use of the information media; not an official record