13 September 2018
The Conference on Disarmament this afternoon continued to work on adopting its annual report for the 2018 session to the United Nations General Assembly, but did not reach consensus on the adoption of the report submitted to the Conference by its subsidiary body four on effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.
The reports of the other four subsidiary bodies were adopted by the Conference on 5 September. The Conference had created the five subsidiary bodies by decision CD/2119 of 16 February 2018.
At the beginning of the meeting, Beliz Celasin Rende, Chargé d’Affaires a.i., Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations Office at Geneva and President of the Conference on Disarmament, presented the report of the subsidiary body four on effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, for the adoption by the Conference on Disarmament.
India explained that it was not in a position to adopt the report in its current form because its views had not been taken into account and reflected in the text. It was regrettable that, in violation of the procedure, India’s views had not been considered before the report had been submitted to the Conference on Disarmament for adoption. The current text stated that the Non-Proliferation Treaty was the most appropriate instrument for the negotiations on the negative security assurances, while India considered the Conference on Disarmament to be the most appropriate forum for this issue, and this position had not been reflected in the report. The primary objective of India's proposal was to defend the primacy of the Conference as the only multilateral disarmament negotiating forum in the world, which operated on the principle of consensus. Had India’s comments been included in the report, the delegate stressed, India would have been in a position to adopt it.
Germany deeply deplored that the report of the subsidiary body four could not be adopted, and said that as its Coordinator, Germany had conducted the work in good faith and in accordance with the Rules of Procedure of the Conference on Disarmament. The report’s consolidated text had been presented to the President in due time after the consultations with interested delegations, and it constituted a fair and accurate account of the discussions that had taken place in the subsidiary body. No delegation had objected to the text at the time of its submission to the President, Germany said, noting that India’s remarks came at a time when it was no longer possible to modify the text. Germany then rejected the allegations that as a Coordinator of the subsidiary body four, it had not followed the correct procedures.
The United States thanked the President and her team who had worked tirelessly to accommodate India, as did the United States, to no avail, and said that the debate was about the primacy of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and its being the cornerstone of the non-proliferation regime. The United States was a true believer in the Non-Proliferation Treaty and wanted to make sure that its primacy was upheld.
India explained that it had tried – unsuccessfully – to reach the Coordinator of subsidiary body four after the report had been circulated on 31 August, with no deadline for comments. India’s proposals had not been incorporated in the report and India held that there was a violation of procedure and the mandate of the subsidiary bodies, which were obliged to reflect the views of all delegations. In response to comments made by the United States, India said that it had made four different proposals, all of which had been turned down by one delegation only. India had refrained from tinkering with the existing language of the text because it respected the position of other delegations, thus it would have been fair that India was given the same respect. Again, India stressed the primacy of the Conference on Disarmament, which remained the most appropriate forum for negotiating the negative security assurances, and insisted that this position had not been adequately presented in the report.
Pakistan was deeply disappointed that it was not possible to reach a consensus on the subsidiary body’s report and recalled that the issue of effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, was an integral part of the agenda of the Conference on Disarmament, and in fact represented one of the so-called four core issues. Today’s developments did not constitute any precedent nor did they prejudice the further consideration of this issue, whether in the framework of a comprehensive and balanced programme of work, or in any other framework for informal discussions. It was most unfortunate that, due to procedural glitches, miscommunications and inflexibility, a minor amendment that only reflected substantive views of one or two delegations, could not be reflected in the report. Pakistan was ready to join the consensus.
The President said that because there was no consensus, the report of the subsidiary body on effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, was not adopted, and that this would be reflected in the annual report.
The Conference on Disarmament will hold its next public plenary at 10 a. m. on Friday, 14 September, when it will conclude the third and last part of its 2018 session.
For use of the information media; not an official record