Starts Discussing its Draft Annual Report to the General Assembly
2 September 2015
The Conference on Disarmament this morning heard a statement from Kazakhstan on the International Day against Nuclear Tests and the importance of the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. The Conference also started to discuss it draft annual report to the General Assembly, hearing from New Zealand as the President, Mexico, South Africa, United Kingdom, Russian Federation and Belarus.
Kazakhstan felicitated all on the occasion of the International Day against Nuclear Tests, which was observed on 29 August. A resolution adopted by the General Assembly in December 2009 declared this international day on the behest of Kazakhstan and numerous co-sponsors to commemorate under the United Nations auspices the signing of a historic decree by the President of Kazakhstan to close the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site. From 1949 to 1989, the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site was the Soviet Union’s prime venue for conducting over 500 nuclear weapons tests. More than 1.5 million unsuspecting people were exposed to devastating levels of radiation effects of which were still borne today by current generations. Kazakhstan and Japan, as Co-Presidents of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) Article XIV Conference, had a strong commitment to make every effort to promote early entry into force of the Treaty. Several influential States still abstained from signing and ratifying the CTBT and the international community must all put their joint efforts to convince these States to do so. A voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing observed by the world powers today, though an important factor of nuclear security, was clearly insufficient and could not serve as an alternative to a legally binding document such as the CTBT.
Ambassador Dell Higgie of New Zealand, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said New Zealand’s presidency would focus on achieving agreement on the draft annual report of the Conference to the General Assembly. They would shortly start their collective work in informal plenary. New Zealand had prepared the draft report with the assistance of the Secretariat and she hoped that all delegations agreed that it reflected the requirements set out in rule 45 of the rules of procedure, which stipulated that it be factual and reflect the negotiations and work of the conference. It was a fact that once again, despite efforts by successive Presidents, the Conference had sadly not been able to reach agreement on a programme of work nor undertake substantive negotiations, which was its raison d’être. New Zealand hoped that Member States would agree that the report reflected appropriately both the intensive efforts undertaken and the lack of results on that to date.
Mexico said the draft report was a good basis for their work in order to fulfil their obligation to report to the General Assembly. As stated by Mexico in Conference plenaries on 5 June and on 17 August, Mexico wished for its position that it did not support the adoption of the decision to re-establish an informal working group to produce a programme of work and on the schedule of activities for the 2015 session of the Conference to be reflected in the annual report. Mexico read out two paragraphs which it suggested be added to the draft report. As it was the obligation of the Conference to elaborate a factual report to the General Assembly, Mexico would participate in the discussions and make further comments as needed in order to reach this factual report.
South Africa thanked the President about her briefing about the draft report and stressed the importance of adequately reflecting what transpired in the 2015 session of the Conference on Disarmament in a balanced manner. South Africa understood the constraints and noted that the President had endeavoured to reflect the developments through reference to “deferring views of delegations are duly reflected in the plenary records of the session”. Since this had been the first time that two countries, including South Africa, had elected not to participate in the informal discussions on the schedule of activities and the informal working group on a programme of work, they preferred to see this reflected in the report. For South Africa, this was a principled decision which was informed by the fact that these decisions were an illusion of progress in the Conference on Disarmament while nothing substantive had emerged from them because of their informal nature.
United Kingdom asked the President how they would now proceed. Would the President
read out the draft report paragraph by paragraph?
The President said that after they resumed the meeting in informal mode, they would work through the draft report paragraph by paragraph, with the opportunity for anyone to make comments.
Russia said it had a question in relation to the statements by Mexico and South Africa. Russia did not fully understand how these two statements made in the plenary would relate to the informal meeting. Russia wished for full transparency and clarity on this from the beginning. Russia proposed that as these two delegations had already made their proposals officially in the plenary, they should not discuss them in the informal session.
The President said that the approach that they were following here was exactly the same as the approach followed traditionally each year, first a plenary session, then working in informal plenary. It was entirely in accordance with the rules of procedure for delegations to deliver their comments whenever they wanted. It was the prerogative of colleagues.
Belarus said that as these two delegations had made the statements on the contents of the draft report in the plenary, Belarus regretted that these two delegations had refused to participate in the work of a subsidiary body established in the context of the Conference and had refused to take part in the brainstorming session to seek a compromise so that they could start negotiations in the context of the Conference. Belarus wished that its statement be put in the verbatim report of the plenary.
The President informed the Conference that there would be a formal plenary on Tuesday, 15 September to hear from the Chair-elect of this year’s First Committee, Ambassador Karel van Oosterom, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the United Nations in New York. She welcomed the opportunity to hear from him.
The next plenary of the Conference will be held at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 8 September 2015. The Conference on Disarmament will conclude the third and last part of its 2015 session on 18 September.
For use of the information media; not an official record