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CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT HEARS FROM SEVEN DIGNITARIES AS IT CONTINUES ITS HIGH LEVEL SEGMENT

27 February 2018

The Conference on Disarmament continued its high-level segment this morning, hearing statements from the Foreign Ministers of Slovenia, Spain, Senegal, Republic of Korea, Sweden, Canada, and Egypt.

Karl Erjavec, Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia, said that it was essential to proceed together and progressively to arrive at a world without nuclear arms through the full implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, following a step-by-step action plan with concrete measures such as those proposed at the 2010 review conference.

Alfonso María Dastis Quecedo, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain, agreeing with the need to attain a world without nuclear weapons, said Spain could not support, however, the recently adopted Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which could undermine the non-proliferation regime, under which gradual steps to denuclearization should be promoted.

Sidiki Kaba, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Senegal, said that his country had supported the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in order to inspire the kind of bold thinking which he said was required to break the deadlock at the Conference on Disarmament. A renewed faith in an international system was needed, in which countries could work together in mutual trust.

Kyun-wa Kang, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, said that her Government would continue to build on breakthroughs that occurred at the Olympics to advance the inter-Korean engagement and resolve regional issues. However, as the actions over the past year by the Republic of Korea’s northern neighbour presented a worrying reality, a strong, united commitment to the full implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions was also needed.

Margot Wallström, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, said that, with the doomsday clock ticking again, it was crucial to show that the Conference on Disarmament, as a platform for diplomacy, could achieve results. Under the Swedish presidency, she pledged all possible effort to galvanize progress through structured discussions and other strategies now available.

Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, said it was critical to overcome differences between nuclear and non-nuclear-weapon States through action on a fissile material cut-off treaty, to stem the kind of frustration with the disarmament machinery that was evidenced by the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Sameh Shoukry, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt, stressed the importance of reversing the current trend of viewing national interests in security in the narrowest possible way, and underlined a need to work on the issue of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East ahead of the 2020 review conference.

Pakistan called for an even-handed and criteria-based approach to strategic stability in South Asia.


The Conference on Disarmament will next meet in public at 3 p.m. today, 27 February.


Statements

KARL ERJAVEC, Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia, affirming that his country strongly supported nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament and arms control based on treaties, said that it was essential to proceed together and progressively to arrive at a world without nuclear arms through the full implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. In that context, Slovenia was in agreement with the step-by-step action plan with concrete measures proposed at the 2010 review conference. Slovenia was also engaged in bringing about the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty in various international forums, said Mr. Erjavec who called on all countries to sign onto the treaty without delay or conditions, as it could pave the way to the real nuclear disarmament. Condemning violations of Security Council resolutions by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he supported both implementation of those resolutions and diplomatic measures that could result in a pacific and denuclearized Korean Peninsula. Mr. Erjavec supported the path of inclusive dialogue to break the deadlock in the Conference’s work, in which his country would continue to fully participate. Slovenia thus supported opening the Conference to any country that wished to join in the interest of universality, transparency and multilateralism, and also fully supported the nomination of a special coordinator for expansion.

ALFONSO MARÍA DASTIS QUECEDO, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain, expressed concern over rising international tensions, most notably those exacerbated by the actions of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which he called beyond the limits of international law. He called on the authorities there to return to the discipline of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and also called for trust to be rebuilt in all areas of disarmament, with strong verification mechanisms, as was achieved in the agreement over the Iranian nuclear programme. Agreeing with the need to attain a world without nuclear weapons, Spain could not support, however, the recently adopted Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, as its inability to garner the support of countries that possessed such weapons could undermine the non-proliferation regime. Gradual steps to denuclearization should be promoted through the Non-Proliferation Treaty, stressed Mr. Quecedo, who proposed that the upcoming Review Conference be used to reinvigorate the process. Supporting also the advancement of a fissile-material cut-off treaty, he called for the political will to start negotiations and prevent vetoing of the process. Peace, law and intelligence, as expressed by the murals in the Council Room in which the Conference met, must guide the efforts of any forum, and should certainly guide the activities of the Conference.

SIDIKI KABA, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Senegal, said that the Conference must not remain in a deadlock while the world was rife with tensions over dangerous weapons. All ideas that could get the work back on track should be considered. Senegal had supported, in that light, the Working Group on the Way Ahead to overcome differences and agree on a programme of work, and had also supported, in the General Assembly, the treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons, because it expressed the vision of the country. At the present, it was most important to promote transparency, nuclear-weapon-free zones, and other measures to prevent the dangers of nuclear weapons. It was also important to implement all treaties on control of conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction. At the Conference on Disarmament, bold action was needed to move forward, along with renewed faith in an international system in which countries could work together in mutual trust.

KYUN-WA KANG, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, expressed hope that the Conference could make meaningful headway this year following the decision to create subsidiary bodies, highlighting that the continuing complexity of international security made its work even more critical. In regard to tensions caused by the nuclear and ballistic programmes of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, she said that her Government would continue to build on breakthroughs of the Olympics to further advance the inter-Korean engagement and resolve all issues. However, Pyongyang’s actions over the past year presented a worrying reality. That was why a strong, united commitment to the full implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions was needed to compel those authorities to change course and engage in substantive dialogue. The country must be denuclearized, in a verifiable manner, for a progress on the Peninsula, and in this context, the Republic of Korea counted on the support of the Conference on Disarmament. The Republic of Korea was a strong advocate of a world free of nuclear weapons which must be accomplished step-by-step under the aegis of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, on which faster progress was needed. Ms. Kang stressed that immediate progress should and could be made on a fissile material cut-off treaty, and said that on this and other issues, it was critical to end the impasse, and in this, the Republic of Korea would be a reliable and responsible partner.

MARGOT WALLSTRÖM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, painting a worrying portrait of a world that was witnessing a renaissance for nuclear weapons, along with a ticking doomsday clock, said that in such times it was crucial to multiply efforts and show that the Conference on Disarmament, as a platform for diplomacy, could achieve results. Under the Swedish presidency, Ms. Wallström pledged efforts to build on the progress achieved earlier this year, through structured discussions and toward progress on agreement on a programme of work. In that context, the Minister called for a determination not to make the perfect be the enemy of the good, and not lose sight of the fact that the core purpose of the Conference was to negotiate multilateral disarmament agreements. It was therefore critical to move forward on a fissile material cut-off treaty and make progress on negative security assurances. Affirming that the Non-Proliferation Treaty was the cornerstone for disarmament and non-proliferation, she pledged her country’s readiness to contribute with concrete proposals to move its regime forward at the upcoming Review Conference. Differences in views on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons must not prevent progress there, stressed Ms. Wallström in closing.

CHRYSTIA FREELAND, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, said that a rules-based order for global security required strong agreements on nuclear disarmament, and expressed Canada’s strong support for the advancement of a fissile material cut-off treaty. In working to such shared objectives, it was critical to overcome differences between nuclear and non-nuclear-weapon States, she said, warning that if differences could not be bridged on the fissile materials text, concern would grow about the viability of the Conference itself. All must work to create a more conducive environment for disarmament agreements. The adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons showed that there was much frustration over the lack of progress in that context. Canada’s mobilization for the promotion of arms control had been strengthened by the work of women’s group and other non-governmental organizations; for example, it was aiming to incorporate the Arms Trade Treaty into national law. Reporting on the progress on ending the scourge of land mines through the Ottawa Treaty regime, Ms. Freeland stressed the need for the universalization of controls of such weapons, and called on all countries that had not yet done so to accede to it. The Minister affirmed the importance of women’s empowerment in all efforts in peace and security and called for greater consideration of their rights in making progress in disarmament. Expressing also strong support for the Non-Proliferation Treaty, she related it to her country’s views on Korean issues and the conflict in Ukraine, which had received security assurances in exchange for giving up its nuclear arms.

SAMEH SHOUKRY, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt, said that, unfortunately, nuclear weapons were currently becoming a greater factor in the defense strategies of some countries and stressed the importance of complying with the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Egypt was greatly concerned that 48 years after the entry into force of this Treaty, nuclear weapons continued to exist and so undermined international peace and security and increased sources of instability around the world. The undermining of the credibility of the Non-Proliferation Treaty was a serious issue, the responsibility for which Egypt attributed to nuclear States’ insistence that international security environment must be conducive to nuclear disarmament. Nuclear disarmament remained a legal obligation of States which should not be subject to political assessments, and in this vein, Egypt called on nuclear weapons States to fulfil their responsibilities. Egypt supported a fissile material cut-off agreement, while calling for the inclusion of stockpiles of weapons-usable material to ensure that the agreement did not become another instrument destined to sustain the imbalance of the status quo. Stressing the urgency of the earliest universal adherence to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Minister called for renewed efforts to secure Israel’s accession to it and also called for the creation of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. Regretting obstructions to progress on that issue, he said it must be addressed dynamically in the lead-up to the 2020 review conference, in order to prevent it from further complicating the review process.

FARUKH AMIL, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the Conference on Disarmament, expressed regret over an erosion of the international consensus on disarmament through the quest for global and regional hegemony. Pakistan supported arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament measures aimed at ensuring equal and undiminished security for all States. The lack of progress on a ban of nuclear weapons and on fissile material cut-off showed the importance of basing all discussions on those principles. Pakistan had had no option but to restore the regional balance after nuclear weapons had been introduced in its area. In parallel, Pakistan had made numerous efforts to keep South Asia free of nuclear weapons as it continued to demonstrate a commitment to regional peace and security, even while strategic stability in South Asia had been negatively impacted by discriminatory approaches. Pakistan, as a responsible nuclear State, desired to contribute to global efforts on non-proliferation and disarmament on an equal footing as a mainstream partner of the international community; a ban only on future production of fissile material would exacerbate the imbalance in his region. Pakistan looked forward to the resumption of substantive work in the Conference on all agenda items without preconditions or preconceived outcomes.


For use of the information media; not an official record

DC18.015E