14 September 2017
The Conference on Disarmament this afternoon adopted its 2017 annual report to the General Assembly.
Ambassador Julio Herraiz of Spain, President of the Conference, following the adoption of the annual report of the Conference’s 2017 session (CD/WP.602/Rev.1) as amended, noted the many challenges that the Conference faced and hoped that consensus would bear fruit in the future.
Statements were made by Iran, South Africa, Syria, United Kingdom, United States, India, Australia, Pakistan, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands, Hungary, France, Germany, Senegal, China, Brazil, Republic of Korea, Algeria, Venezuela, Mexico, Canada and Turkey.
The Council on 15 September will conclude the third and last part of its 2017 session.
Ambassador JULIO HERRAIZ of Spain, President of the Conference, said that the revised draft of the annual report of the Conference’s 2017 session (CD/WP.602/Rev.1) had been shared with the Member States on Thursday. Most of the text had been provisionally adopted in the informal sessions over the last three weeks. Based on the States’ inputs, discussions and several consultations over the past few days, the President had proposed language for the outstanding paragraphs which he hoped would garner consensus.
Iran expressed appreciation for the President’s efforts and the intention to have the report adopted by consensus. Iran then suggested a change to paragraph 20 of the draft report and the removal of the reference to South Africa.
South Africa thanked the President and said that the amendment proposed by Iran was acceptable to South Africa. As there was a link between the resolution to the General Assembly and the draft annual report, South Africa would not be able to approve the annual report without seeing the text of the resolution first.
Syria concurred with the suggested amendment proposed by Iran.
Ambassador JULIO HERRAIZ of Spain, President of the Conference on Disarmament, took good note of the remarks by South Africa and recalled that, traditionally, the annual report was adopted prior to circulating the first draft of the resolution to the General Assembly. The adoption of the annual report should be done in accordance with the rules of procedure and should reflect the work of the Conference. The circulation of the draft resolution prior to the adoption of the annual report ran counter to the usual procedure, and could not be done before the annual report was adopted. The forthcoming draft resolution would contain a technical update and the description of the mandate of the Working Group on the way ahead. As such, it would follow the format of the 2014 and 2015 resolutions to the General Assembly. The President hoped that this information was sufficient for South Africa to agree to the adoption of the annual report.
South Africa explained that it was true that the Presidency had given a sense of the draft resolution and said that it seemed that the report and the resolution this year might have elements which were inter-related and should be considered together. South Africa was ready to work with the Presidency in search of the way out.
Ambassador JULIO HERRAIZ of Spain, President of the Conference on Disarmament, asked South Africa to clarify its position and propose a way forward.
South Africa said that it was up to the Presidency to find the way and move the discussion forward.
United Kingdom was aware of the intense discussions between the Presidency and the parties involved and said that there was no way that the adoption of the annual report, which needed to be adopted by consensus, could be negotiated together with the adoption of the resolution, which needed to be adopted by a vote. Those were two incompatible processes.
United States thanked Spain for the hard work and the consultations on the draft annual report and agreed with the United Kingdom that there were no linkages between the two documents. While the United States was not thrilled with the draft annual report, it was important to move forward and agree on the report.
India also thanked all the delegations involved in the very sensitive discussions and was eager to move to the next stage, which was the examination of the draft resolution on the annual report. The Conference on Disarmament was a master of its own procedure and had to find a way to move to the next stage and start discussing the President’s resolution. India was looking forward to receiving the draft text of the resolution and examine how its language fit with the previous years’ resolutions and into the programme ahead in New York.
Australia was very persuaded by the President’s explanation on the two documents, their different audiences and different processes, and stressed that linking them together, particularly this late in the process, would not be a good practice. A lot of work had been invested into the text that was ready for the adoption and the Conference on Disarmament should go ahead and adopt it.
Pakistan agreed with India that the Conference on Disarmament should first consider the report and then move on to the draft resolution.
Italy supported the President’s approach, which was procedurally correct, and said that there was no linkage between the two documents; they were different and had to be submitted to two different organs. The adoption of the resolution was based on the assumption that the annual report was already adopted by the Conference.
Poland said that the proposed draft annual report was acceptable to Poland and thanked the President for his efforts aimed at preserving the relevance of this body. Poland was ready to adopt the report and then move on to analyse the draft resolution.
South Africa said that it seemed that there were two rules of procedures which were relevant to the work today, and those did not propose any specific sequencing.
Ambassador JULIO HERRAIZ of Spain, President of the Conference on Disarmament, noted that the deadline for the United Nations Secretariat to submit draft resolutions for the upcoming meeting of the General Assembly and its First Committee was 12 October and said that the Presidency had the right to hold informal consultations on its draft resolution when and where it deemed appropriate. The Conference on Disarmament should be loyal to the tradition, said the President, and added that Spain had shared with South Africa the full details of the draft resolution.
Netherlands would go along with the consensus which had emerged after so much effort by the Presidency and a number of other delegations. The Netherlands agreed that there were no linkages between the documents and said that each document should be examined separately, on its own merit. The draft annual report was a result of compromise and intense consultations; not all delegations were perfectly happy with it, but the Netherlands stood ready to adopt both the way forward and the context of the report.
Hungary agreed that the Conference on Disarmament should take the process one step at a time.
France commended the President for the remarkable work done in forging the consensus in those difficult times. The report before the Conference was far from perfect, but France would support it nevertheless, not with enthusiasm, but to move forward in a spirit of compromise.
Iran said that one of the important issues in the context of the adoption of the annual report was how to deal with the resolution, and stressed that the twin decisions – on the report and on the resolution related to the report – were very much inter-related. The question remained how much those two documents would be matched to each other and to the discussions in the Conference on Disarmament.
Germany said that the proposal by South Africa would put the Conference in a very hard position. The rules of procedure should be followed and the Conference should first adopt the report and then discuss the draft resolution to the General Assembly.
Senegal was fully prepared to adopt the report and said that it was not in the interest of anyone to block the work. Senegal urged the President to achieve a breakthrough through informal consultations.
China warned that the patience of the majority of Member States was exhausted and urged all to be modest, tolerant and nice to each other.
Brazil was ready to adopt the report and said that, although there was no legal connection between the resolution and the report, one delegation was not ready to join the consensus and suggested that the President addressed the concerns of that delegation.
United States said that it was time to move forward and take action on the annual report.
Republic of Korea said that the most the President could have done was to share the information on the draft resolution, and he had done so. The resolution, as was the custom, was always adopted by consensus, and the Republic of Korea was willing and ready to adopt the report.
Ambassador JULIO HERRAIZ of Spain, President of the Conference on Disarmament, reiterated that the Presidency would not conduct negotiations on the draft resolution in parallel to the adoption to the annual report. The elements of the first draft resolution had been outlined and South Africa had been consulted on it, and there was not much else that could be done to address the concerns of the delegation in question. The President recognized the position of South Africa and appealed to this delegation to be flexible and proceed with the adoption of the report.
South Africa said that its expectation was to see the first draft resolution in writing today and said that South Africa was at the moment unable to change its position.
Ambassador JULIO HERRAIZ of Spain, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said that South Africa continued to maintain its negative position on the adoption of the annual report.
United States wondered what the future consultations would achieve as South Africa was very clear on its position, and urged the Conference to go ahead and adopt the report.
Australia wondered whether it would be possible to move through the paragraphs quickly and address the content of the draft resolution.
Ambassador JULIO HERRAIZ of Spain, President of the Conference on Disarmament, reiterated that the adoption of the annual report could not take place at the same time when the draft resolution was being negotiated. The negotiation of the draft resolution would take place in a different place and different time.
Iran agreed to suspend the session and continue with the informal consultations. It was important to note that the Presidency of the Conference on Disarmament had the right to choose how to proceed. Imposing the adoption of a document was not a proper way forward, rather, the delegations should be patient and work with each other to build consensus.
India stressed that time was very limited and that the rules of procedure were very clear in that the Conference on Disarmament would adopt its report before the end of the session, which must be made available to all Member States before the opening of the regular session of the General Assembly, which was next week.
Algeria expressed its faith in the President to find a solution.
United States was not convinced that any further consultations would achieve progress and reiterated its position that the Conference should proceed with the adoption of the annual report.
Venezuela expressed its support for the Presidency and echoed the statements of Iran and Algeria and agreed that suspending the session and continuing the informal consultations might lead to progress.
Mexico recognized the President’s stewardship of the work of the Conference. With regard to further consultations, it might be beneficial to give an opportunity to South Africa to express its concerns and its position, and bring everyone closer together.
Ambassador JULIO HERRAIZ of Spain, President of the Conference on Disarmament, on the content of the informal consultations, proposed that the annual report be examined paragraph by paragraph; this would give the delegations an opportunity to comment and introduce oral amendments, which would then be proposed to the plenary.
South Africa was unwilling to consider the report paragraph by paragraph until the issue of the draft resolution was resolved.
China recalled that this was supposed to be the last plenary in 2017 and said that China would not have time to attend any other plenary this week.
Germany expressed appreciation for the patience and tolerance demonstrated by the President and suggested that the President dealt with the concerns of South Africa in informal and private consultations.
Canada agreed with Germany and urged the President to engage in informal consultations.
United States was not convinced that further consultations would change anything, but the Conference on Disarmament was in the hands of the President.
Ambassador JULIO HERRAIZ of Spain, President of the Conference on Disarmament, noted that the draft report was ready to be adopted, and that one delegation felt that it was not willing to join the consensus. It was thus timely to suspend the session.
Pakistan reserved the right to propose any paragraph to the draft resolution to the General Assembly when the time is right.
Mexico was celebrating its national day today and invited all the delegations to the Mexican party at 6 p.m.
Ambassador JULIO HERRAIZ of Spain, President of the Conference on Disarmament, suspended the meeting.
Adoption of the Annual Report
Resuming the meeting, Ambassador JULIO HERRAIZ of Spain, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said that the Conference could move to the adoption of the annual report of the Conference on Disarmament, by examining it paragraph by paragraph, which would give the delegations an opportunity to introduce oral amendments. Those would be then offered to the plenary for adoption, and would feature in the adopted text as oral revisions.
On paragraph 20, Iran repeated its previous suggestions to remove the specific reference to South Africa for reasons of consistency.
South Africa said it was acceptable to South Africa and proposed the deletion of the last two sentences of paragraph 20.
United States could not accept neither of the two amendments.
The two oral amendments had not achieved consensus.
South Africa could not accept the paragraph as currently phrased.
Iran asked the President to defer the consideration of paragraph 20 to the end of the adoption of the annual report.
The President decided to do so.
On paragraph 36, India recalled its earlier proposal to change the language of the “ban on the production of the fissile material” and said that in case of the opposition to the India’s proposal, India would not break away from consensus. The language in this paragraph could not set a precedent for the future.
Pakistan said that the current language was coming from the timetable for the Working Group on the way ahead and had also been previously used by the Conference on Disarmament. Pakistan preferred to see the language unchanged.
There was no consensus on the oral amendment by India. The paragraph was then adopted.
On paragraph 58, Turkey said that the text should refer to the seventy-second session of the General Assembly, not the seventy-first.
The paragraph was adopted with the oral technical amendment.
Ambassador JULIO HERRAIZ of Spain, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said that the Conference on Disarmament had adopted 57 out of 58 paragraphs, with paragraph 20 pending. It was not timely or appropriate to negotiate the draft annual report, said the President and appealed to all delegations to show flexibility.
China said that China would accept all amendments that other delegations agreed to. As for the proposed oral amendments to paragraph 20, China proposed a new wording.
United Kingdom could not accept the Chinese proposal. It was ready to adopt paragraph 20 as it stood and urged the Conference to move ahead with the adoption of the report.
South Africa said that the proposal by China was acceptable and that South Africa was ready to adopt the amended paragraph.
Iran said that its oral amendment was for reasons of consistency, as South Africa was the only President of the Conference that was named. The intention was to make it consistent and remove controversy caused by naming the Presidency.
Hungary said that paragraph 20 spoke about “Presidents” and noted that other paragraphs in the report mentioned countries specifically.
United States was troubled by the fact that the President was trying to carefully negotiate the text of the paragraph, and yet South Africa had proposed new amendments, which were unacceptable to the United States.
Ambassador JULIO HERRAIZ of Spain, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said that oral amendments had not met with the consensus and asked the plenary to again consider the paragraph as contained in the proposed text.
South Africa said that it had accepted the proposals that had been made hoping it would be the way forward, and said it was difficult to accept the paragraph 20 as it stood.
Ambassador JULIO HERRAIZ of Spain, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said that the opposition to paragraph 20 demonstrated the intention of South Africa not to accept the annual report.
South Africa said that the fact that it was not satisfied with the language as yet did not mean that South Africa would not adopt the annual report and asked the President to withdraw his statement.
United Kingdom asked the President to put the annual report for adoption in its entirety.
Ambassador JULIO HERRAIZ of Spain, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said that the Conference had engaged in broad discussions on the annual report and its paragraph 20. He then proposed the adoption of paragraph 20 as proposed in the draft text and said that its adoption would equal the adoption of the annual report.
South Africa could not accept paragraph 20 as it stood.
China proposed, for the sake of expediency in the adoption of the report, to take the whole paragraph out.
United States appreciated the efforts of China to bring about the consensus and said that its proposal was not acceptable to the United States.
Ambassador JULIO HERRAIZ of Spain, President of the Conference on Disarmament, proposed again to the plenary the adoption of paragraph 20 as proposed in the draft text and said that its adoption would equal the adoption of the annual report.
South Africa said that South Africa agreed with all paragraphs of the report with the exception of paragraph 20, and accepted the amendments by Iran and China.
United Kingdom proposed the deletion of the last two sentences as requested by South Africa and that the reference to the letter to South Africa, the fifth Presidency, be then included under paragraph 21(c).
South Africa said that this proposal was acceptable and requested that the report included reference to the note verbale that South Africa had sent out.
Algeria asked which date would be put on the letter.
Iran asked about the position of the amendments proposed by Iran.
United Kingdom said that the reference to South Africa would remain.
South Africa thanked Iran and all other delegations that had contributed to moving the discussion forward. The latest proposals created the balance in the report and in paragraph 20 that South Africa was after. The two documents would be sent with the annual report, the first was the note verbale sent by South Africa, and the second was the letter by Spain on behalf of several delegations.
Iran said that its proposal to remove the reference to South Africa aimed to avoid setting a precedence to the future. Iran would not stand in the way of the consensus.
China said that there was light at the end of the tunnel and thanked the delegations for their wisdom and patience.
South Africa was grateful to the delegation of Iran for their proposal and left the decision to the Conference.
The Conference on Disarmament then adopted its annual report for 2017 to the General Assembly, with paragraph 20 as orally revised. It reads as follows: “Throughout the 2017 session, Presidents of the Conference conducted intensive consultations with a view to agreeing on a programme of work, but no consensus was reached. Substantive informal consultations were held in the working group on the ‘way ahead’ on all the items of the Conference on Disarmament’s agenda. The fifth President, South Africa, did not convene plenary meetings of the Conference on Disarmament.”
Ambassador JULIO HERRAIZ of Spain, President of the Conference on Disarmament, in his final remarks noted the many challenges that the Conference faced and hoped that consensus would bear fruit in the future.
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