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CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT DISCUSSES DRAFT PROGRAMME OF WORK PRESENTED BY VENEZUELAN (BOLIVARIAN REPUBLIC OF) PRESIDENCY

6 June 2019

The Conference on Disarmament this morning discussed the draft programme of work presented by the President of the Conference, Ambassador Jorge Valero of Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of).

Mr. Valero said the draft programme of work prepared by the Venezuelan presidency had been circulated and would be discussed today. This programme of work was the result of both formal and informal consultations held by the presidency. He said he did not expect detailed comments on the text, as he understood most delegations were consulting with their capitals, but he wished to hear preliminary reactions on the documents, including on elements B and E in paragraph 8.

Belarus said that the draft programme of work was being examined in the capital, but the delegation was nevertheless willing to work on this document. Democratic People’s Republic of Korea recalled that next week would mark the anniversary of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea-United States summit in Singapore, adding that whether the 12 June Joint Statement would remain effective would now be determined by the United States’ reaction to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s fair and reasonable stance. Zimbabwe expressed its profound appreciation for the draft programme of work which the delegation believed was balanced, adding that the fact that the Conference on Disarmament was still discussing the programme of work indicated the need for creative approaches. Algeria said the draft was a step forward to relaunch the substantive work of the Conference. Iran said the delegation was still awaiting instructions from the capital vis-à-vis the draft programme of work, but that it was a good start.

Egypt noted with satisfaction that the presidency sought to build on the work done in previous years and stood ready to engage with Conference of Disarmament members in a constructive manner to resume work on substantive matters. India said it had shared the draft with its capital and was awaiting their comments. Mexico said the draft programme of work should recognize the maturity of the Conference’s work on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty. Indonesia said the draft programme of work provided a good basis and had been sent to its capital for comments. Syria said it was ready to engage constructively on the basis of this draft programme of work, which had been transmitted to the capital. Australia said there had been some excellent suggestions made today, and it was worth it for the Conference on Disarmament to consider a multi-year approach. Russian Federation said the draft programme of work was balanced and comprehensive, and had been sent it to its capital. Pakistan said the draft programme of work was a solid basis and expressed appreciation for the extensive consultations carried out by Venezuela to prepare it. China said it looked forward to working with members of the Conference on Disarmament and exchanging views on the programme of work.

A number of countries commented on Zimbabwe’s proposal that a programme of work with a long-term horizon, far beyond one session, should be adopted. Zimbabwe said a multi-year programme of work could be adopted at a given session and reaffirmed at following sessions and this would not require the amendment of the rules of procedure. Whichever way one looked at this issue, negotiations on the draft programme of work had been stifling the Conference on Disarmament. The life of subsidiary bodies could be rolled over in subsequent sessions. Those present should therefore be pragmatic in organizing the Conference on Disarmament’s work.

The next meeting of the Conference on Disarmament will be held on Wednesday, 12 June at 3 p. m. and will be dedicated to an informal panel discussion on agenda items 5, 6 and 7 concerning new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons, a comprehensive programme of disarmament, and transparency in armaments, respectively.

Statements

JORGE VALERO, President of the Conference on Disarmament and Permanent Representative of Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said a draft programme of work prepared by the Venezuelan presidency had been circulated and it would be discussed today. This programme of work was the result of both formal and informal consultations held by the presidency. Bilateral consultations were moving ahead very positively and at the same time thematic informal sessions were being held, where delegations had an opportunity to think further on the work done in previous years. Most delegations had recommended that the presidency continue efforts to consult as many Member States as possible and further encouraged participation during the plenaries, thematic sessions and bilateral consultations. Consultations were held with at least 22 Member States, which had made very useful and earnest contributions. The document took into account all the elements on the Conference’s agenda. The aim of the exercise was to strike a balance between them and address them in a way that took into consideration their level of maturity and enable further negotiations.

The presidency had opted for a more streamlined and harmonized approach in the draft, recommending that subsidiary bodies be established for all items on the agenda in the form of “working groups”. It had tried to offer negotiating mandates to all working groups, although that had proven to be the most difficult task, as the Conference suffered from great polarization. In the two weeks that remained, the Conference could identify the aspects on which frank consensus could be reached to improve the draft. He said he did not expect detailed comments on the text, as he understood most delegations were consulting with their capitals, but he wished to hear preliminary reactions on the documents, including on elements B and E in paragraph 8. It was the duty of presidents to present the draft programme of work in an open and transparent manner, he recalled, calling on delegations to work on achieving this common goal.

Belarus said it had given up its nuclear weapons and thus supported the strengthening of the non-proliferation regime as per the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Belarus was fully committed to a consistent and progressive realization of the objectives of article 6 of the treaty. The degradation of the current system of disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation was concerning. The positive trends of the beginning and the middle of the 1990s had been reversed. The de-facto dismantling of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty would have an impact on security in the region and the world at large. Assessments of the anticipated results of the implementation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty were hardly inspiring. In this context, the Conference on Disarmament was a unique platform. The comprehensive consideration of agenda items 1, 2 and 4 was interesting and should be carefully considered. The elaboration of a legally-binding instrument on negative security assurances would have a positive impact on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and the creation of a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle east. Belarus said the draft programme of work was being examined in the capital, but the delegation was nevertheless willing to work on this document. In current conditions, the programme of work should be adopted as quickly as possible, and Belarus was willing to work constructively on the document.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea recalled that next week would mark the anniversary of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea-United States summit in Singapore. The outcome summit held on 12 June last year had been welcomed by numerous delegations in this chamber. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea read out a press statement by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to that statement, the United States was deliberately turning away from the implementation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea-United States Joint Statement, insisting that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea unilaterally surrender nuclear weapons. Due to the persistence of deep-rooted hostility, it was necessary for the implementation of the Joint Statement that both sides gave up unilateral demands; the United States had to move away from its current method of calculation. Whether the 12 June Joint Statement would remain effective would now be determined by the United States’ reaction to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s fair and reasonable stance.

Zimbabwe expressed its profound appreciation for the draft programme of work which the delegation believed was balanced. The fact that the Conference on Disarmament were still discussing the programme of work indicated the need for creative approaches. Rule 22 of the rules of procedure provided that informal meetings could be held on substantive matters and questions regarding the organization of work. Given the painfully small progress made, a programme of work with a long-term horizon, far beyond one session, should be adopted. A multi-year programme of work could be adopted at a given session and reaffirmed at following sessions and this would not require the amendment of the rules of procedure. Whichever way one looked at this issue, negotiations on the programme of work had been stifling the Conference on Disarmament. The proposal drew from the experience of 2018. The life of subsidiary bodies could be rolled over in subsequent sessions. Those present should therefore be pragmatic in organizing the Conference on Disarmament work.

Algeria said the draft programme of work was a step forward to relaunch the substantive work of the Conference. The draft took into account the proposition and proposals made by Venezuela’s predecessors, which illustrated its constructive approach.

Iran said the draft programme of work was the result of broad consultations. The delegation was still awaiting instructions from its capital, but nevertheless believed it was very well prepared. The draft was a good start, and Iran was ready to start working on in. Iran expressed hope that with a few amendments the draft could garner consensus.

Egypt took note of the very interesting proposal put forward by Zimbabwe. While appreciating the view that the seven items on the agenda should be pursued equally and perhaps simultaneously, Egypt underscored that the four core agenda items were of utmost priority. Egypt noted with satisfaction that the presidency sought to build on the work done in previous years and stood ready to engage with Conference of Disarmament members in a constructive manner to resume work on substantive matters.

India said it had shared the draft with its capital and was awaiting their comments.

Mexico said it was awaiting instructions from its capital, and was therefore making preliminary comments. Mexico expressed concerns that the mandate for negotiations in paragraph 8 B did not make a reference to negotiations in comparison to 8A, 8C and 8D. The maturity of the Conference’s work on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty had to be recognized. This issue should have a specific mandate for negotiation. Mexico also hoped that the programme of work may in the end also include a timetable for the Conference on Disarmament’s activities. Mexico believed that Zimbabwe’s proposals should be looked at.

Indonesia said the programme of work provided a good basis. It had been sent to its capital for comments. There was no consensus on what was a fair and balanced programme of work. Indonesia had started wondering if a programme of work in the form it had taken in the past years was serving the purpose of the Conference on Disarmament. Paragraph 28 of the rules of procedure did not mention mandates. The activities must, however, deal with matters covered by the agenda. Those present should ask themselves if they had really abandoned the former approach; the new approach had consistently failed. Members did not have to adopt a programme of work that included mandates. Perhaps a programme of work comprised of a list of activities and timetables could allow the Conference Disarmament to break the stalemate.

Syria said the programme of work was part and parcel of the presidency’s tasks and the draft testified to Venezuela’s seriousness. Syria was ready to engage constructively on the basis of this draft. It had been transmitted to the capital, and Syria was waiting for feedback, which it could share with the Conference.

Australia said the suggestions made by Zimbabwe and Indonesia were eminently sensible. In 2018, the Conference on Disarmament had tried to have the subsidiary bodies roll over. There had been some excellent suggestions made today; it was worth it for the Conference on Disarmament to consider a multi-year approach.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea commended the presidency for its efforts to revitalize the work of the Conference on Disarmament. The programme of work was a positive initiative to move the Conference on Disarmament’s work forward.

Russian Federation thanked the presidency for the draft programme of work, which confirmed that Venezuela’s approach was very serious. It was balanced and comprehensive. As it required detailed analysis, the Russian Federation had sent it to its capital and was awaiting instructions. The Russian Federation agreed that the Conference on Disarmament was crucial to maintaining international peace and its approach should be results-oriented. The Russian Federation urged all colleagues to make all efforts to reach agreement on the draft programme of work. As a few interesting ideas had been put forward, the Russian Federation asked the Venezuelan presidency to heed them and perhaps give its opinion on them.

Pakistan said the draft programme of work was a solid basis and expressed appreciation for the extensive consultations carried out by Venezuela to prepare it. Pakistan was awaiting instructions from its capital.

China thanked the presidency for the draft programme of work and expressed appreciation for the spirit of cooperation shown by all the delegations that had spoken. The multi-year approach mentioned by Zimbabwe was new and good. Australia was right to recall that efforts had been made to automatically extend the subsidiary bodies. All these ideas were important. China looked forward to working with members of the Conference on Disarmament and exchanging views on the draft programme of work.

JORGE VALERO, President of the Conference on Disarmament and Permanent Representative of Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) to the United Nations Office at Geneva, thanked delegations for their comments. He said he would do his best to accommodate them and would subsequently submit a revised version of the draft programme of work. He added that the next plenary meeting would be dedicated to an informal panel discussion on agenda items 5, 6 and 7 concerning new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons, a comprehensive programme of disarmament, and transparency in armaments, respectively.


For use of the information media; not an official record

DC19.029E