CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT HEARS STATEMENTS BY ITS PRESIDENT AND EIGHT COUNTRIES
Japan and Japanese Youth Communicator for a World without Nuclear Weapons Speak on Sixty-Ninth Anniversary of Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
19 August 2014
The Conference on Disarmament this morning heard an address by its incoming President and statements by Japan and the Japanese Youth Communicator for a World without Nuclear Weapons, Australia, Myanmar on behalf of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), United States, Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, Indonesia and the United Kingdom.
Ambassador Dato Mazlan Muhammad of Malaysia, incoming President of the Conference on Disarmament, said that being the last President of the current session, his focus would be to negotiate and finalise the report of the Conference to the General Assembly. The stalemate in the Conference had continued for far too long. As exemplified by the ban on landmines and cluster munitions, the world did not wait for the Conference, and presumably, it would not wait for progress to be made on other important disarmament issues as well. Malaysia’s priority was nuclear disarmament because this weapon constituted a clear and present danger to humanity and this planet.
Japan and the Japanese Youth Communicator for a World without Nuclear Weapons spoke about the sixty-ninth anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; Australia spoke in a farewell statement; Myanmar spoke on behalf of ASEAN in a general statement; the United States gave an introductory statement; and the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, Indonesia and the United Kingdom spoke about the report by the United Kingdom as coordinator of the informal meetings on item three of the agenda of the Conference on prevention of an arms race in outer space.
The next public plenary of the Conference on Disarmament will take place at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 26 August, when the Conference will hear comments on its draft annual report to the General Assembly.
DATO MAZLAN MUHAMMAD (Malaysia), Incoming President of the Conference on Disarmament, bid farewell to the Ambassadors of Australia and Ecuador and wished them success on their new assignments. He also welcomed the new Permanent Representative of the United States to the Conference on Disarmament. The President welcomed the Nagasaki Peace Messengers who were attending the Conference’s proceedings today. He said Jamaica had requested to attend the 2014 session of the Conference as an observer and the request had been accepted.
As this was the first time he was taking the floor as President of the Conference on Disarmament, Ambassador Muhammad said it was an honour for him and his country to assume the Presidency. Being the last President of the current session, his focus would be to negotiate and finalise the report of the Conference to the General Assembly. The stalemate in the Conference had continued for far too long. As exemplified by the ban on landmines and cluster munitions, the world did not wait for the Conference, and presumably, it would not wait for progress to be made on other important disarmament issues as well. The Conference was not playing its role and the international community was right to express its concern on this matter. As it stood, the Conference’s role as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community continued to be a title at best. The Conference was held to ransom as delegations continued to insist on subjects which were clearly a red line for others. While nuclear disarmament and the fissile material treaty remained to be the main focus, there were other issues which remained on the agenda of the Conference and the importance of all of them being arranged into a proper programme of work.
Malaysia recognised that there were different priorities with regards to the issues to be negotiated in the Conference. However, these priorities needed to be rationalised over one another. Each issue should be given equal time and emphasis and not made as pre-conditions for the consideration of the other. Malaysia’s priority was nuclear disarmament because this weapon constituted a clear and present danger to humanity and this planet. On the working methods of the Conference, it was important to note that a re-examination of the rules of procedure should not be focused solely on the consensus rule; it should be an opportunity to explore ways and means to further improve the current methods of work in the Conference. Malaysia valued the contributions made by civil society in the field of disarmament. Their invaluable input would enrich the work of the Conference and help to stimulate substantive discussions. The Conference should seize the opportunity to tap into their expertise, knowledge and insight which could contribute enormously to their work.
On the preparation of the report of the Conference to the United Nations General Assembly, he would be guided by past agreed language which in his view would provide an excellent basis from where consensus could be reached. The first draft of the report would be made available to the Conference Member States by 21 August after which they would have time to submit their proposed amendments to the draft. He intended to hear initial reactions and comments on the draft during the plenary session on Tuesday, 26 August. The third week of the Presidency would be devoted to the drafting of the text in informal mode.
TOSHIO SANO, (Japan) said that each year, memorial ceremonies were held on 6 and 9 August in Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively. They not only commemorated, but also prayed and renewed their determination towards a safer world free of nuclear weapons. He was delighted to introduce Ms. Masaki Koyanagi, who had joined the Japanese delegation for the day. She was a high-school student from Nagasaki and a third generation of Hibakusha, the direct survivors from the atomic bombings. She would take the floor in her capacity as a Youth Communicator for a World without Nuclear Weapons, commissioned by the Japanese Foreign Minister. This programme was one of the pillars of the Japanese Government policy in disarmament and non-proliferation education and was at the heart of disarmament efforts by the Government. Sixty-nine years after the end of the world, the Hibakusha were getting old, they were on average nearly 80 years old, and there was a risk of their memories and stories fading away. To avoid this, the younger generation had volunteered to become Youth Communicators. Their mission was to relay the testimonies of Hibakusha to the next generation and to spread and deepen the understanding of humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons. They also acted as Hiroshima and Nagasaki peace messengers.
MASAKI KOYANAGI, Youth Communicator for a World without Nuclear Weapons, said she would like to briefly touch upon the real consequences of the atomic bombing and reinvigorate the call for the total elimination of nuclear weapons. She was born and brought up in Nagasaki and had had many chances to hear about the terror of the atomic bomb. Both of her grandparents met the atomic bombing at a very close point from the hypocentre. She was determined to work hard as a third generation of atomic bomb survivors to pass down the stories of the survivors to the next generation. The first Peace Messengers were dispatched 17 years ago to bring the voices of Nagasaki to the world. The young people of Japan had a mission to appeal for a world without nuclear weapons. She called on the delegates in the Conference to renew their determination and pave the way for the total elimination of nuclear weapons through united action. She hoped the stalemate of the Conference would be resolved and that active negotiations commenced soon. She also invited participants to visit Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
PETER WOOLCOTT (Australia) said this was his last time in this historic chamber. Much important work had been done here, but regrettably not for a long time now. Australia had been unabashed giving priority to the negotiation of a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT). Australia had been placed to work closely with Canada, which took the lead in establishing the FMCT group of governmental experts, and they would need to think carefully about what followed on from the conclusion of its work next year. Concerning the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, Australia and fellow-members of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative had been working in advance of the NPT PrepCom on proposing practical steps that could contribute to greater nuclear transparency, further reductions in arsenals, and greater security of nuclear weapons and material. They needed to be realistic about what could be achieved by 2015, and they needed to focus on the future with genuinely creative ideas. How to draw in all five nuclear-weapon States and other nuclear-weapon possessors into an organized and productive process, while building and maintaining their confidence in stability, would present huge strategic challenges. The political dynamics outside this chamber and predominantly in countries most attached to the workings of the Conference, needed to shift in a way that would allow the Conference to resume its proper negotiating role. However, the impasse could not go on too much longer. If the current realities did not shift, then the Conference would be swept into the dust bin of history.
The Arms Trade Treaty was a process which may have something to offer in such gloomy circumstances. A critical factor for the success of the Treaty’s negotiations was that the process was conducive to building the broadest possible constituency of States. At every stage, it would have been easy to bank the gains made in building a like-minded constituency and go outside the United Nations system to complete the job. But the willingness of all interested States to stay the course within the United Nations system could only add to the legitimacy of the treaty and its potential for effective action into the future. The key lesson to take from the end of the Arms Trade Treaty process was that redundancies should be built into consensus processes, but they should be used sparingly, as a last resort and only after all effort at consensus had been exhausted. Nuclear weapons were monstrous and must never be used. It ought to be acknowledged that much had been done since the 70s in reducing their numbers and much had been done in containing their horizontal proliferation.
MAUNG WAI (Myanmar), speaking on behalf of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that nuclear disarmament had always been the utmost priority of the ASEAN Member States. They reaffirmed the importance and validity of the Conference on Disarmament as the single multilateral negotiating forum on disarmament. It was regrettable that the 18-year stalemate had prevented this body from commencing negotiations on substantive issues. They called on the Conference to establish, as soon as possible and as the highest priority, an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament. ASEAN attached great importance to the outcomes of the 2010 NPT Review Conference of the parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and reiterated their call for the full and effective implementation of the action plan as set out in the conclusions and recommendations for follow-on actions of the Final Document of the 2010 Review Conference, particularly the 22-point action plan on nuclear disarmament. Thought there had been some positive signals and developments, the world was still confronted by unresolved challenges. ASEAN called for renewed efforts to resolve the current impasse in achieving nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation in all its aspects.
ASEAN continued to believe that the nuclear-weapon-free zones created by the treaties of Tlatelolco, Rarotonga, Bangkok, Pelindaba and the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone, as well as Mongolia’s nuclear-weapon-free status contributed significantly to strengthening global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regimes. It also underscored the importance of establishing such zones where they did not exist, especially in the Middle East region. ASEAN stressed the importance of strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime to maintain peace, security and prosperity in the region. They reaffirmed their commitment to preserve Southeast Asia as a nuclear weapon free zone and free of all other weapons of mass destruction. ASEAN reaffirmed their commitment to uphold the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone and would work closely with nuclear weapon States on the early signing and ratification of the protocol to the Treaty.
ROBERT A. WOOD (United States) said he was delighted to join them as they worked to advance the important agenda of the Conference. Since its inception, the Conference had achieved historic agreements that had made the world a much safer place. The United States was strongly committed to working with others to enable the Conference to make further, substantial contributions to international security. Pending agreement on a programme of work with a negotiating mandate, the United States believed that the informal substantive discussions that the Conference had conducted this year had provided a useful elaboration of views and helped to keep the Conference ready to conduct negotiations.
The United States priority in the Conference continued to be the negotiation of a treaty banning the further production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, consistent with the Shannon report and the mandate contained therein. At the same time, the United States did not discount the importance of other core issues on the Conference’s agenda and remained willing to engage in substantive discussions on those issues, and they had taken practical steps to advance each of these issues.
ALEXANDER DEYNEKO (Russian Federation) said that he hoped Malaysia’s national position as addressed in the President’s statement would not affect work on the final document of the 2014 session of the Conference. Concerning item three of the agenda of the Conference on prevention of an arms race in outer space, at the informal meeting of the Conference on 15 August, Russia had drawn the attention of the delegations to a number of serious factual flaws in the report submitted by the Ambassador of the United Kingdom, the coordinator of the thematic discussion on this item. They raised this question again because their proposal on ways to rectify the situation, including by making appropriate adjustments, remained without response on the substance. Russian remarks related to the following facts that were not reflected in the document for unknown reasons: there was a total disregard of the discussion on the no first placement of weapons in outer space, which was directly related to disarmament; there were critical remarks made on the updated text of the Russian-Chinese draft treaty on the prevention of placement of weapons in outer space, but the fact that there were no objections in principle to the draft was omitted in the report. Against this background, the focus among the aspects of prevention of an arms race in outer space was shifted to the politically binding European Union Code of Conduct in Space, while the report failed to recognize remarks against giving this code of conduct a primary placing in the discussions at the Conference, and questioning the relevance of the code of conduct to the Conference on Disarmament. Russia expected a factual presentation of the substantive elements of the debate, which could be of practical interest for the Conference. In view of the facts outlined above, the Russian delegation could not consider the report to be either balanced or objective. It was unacceptable to leave a report that gave a distorted image of the events without appropriate reaction and Russia requested that these comments be published as an official document of the Conference.
NURZHAN RAKHMETOV (Kazakhstan) joined the Russian Federation in their statement, including the absence of any mention of the discussion on no first placement of weapons in outer space which took place in the informal discussion under agenda item three on the prevention of an arms race in outer space. The report on this agenda item would be more balanced if it included those points and would be more factual.
NINA SARASWATI DJAJAPRAWIRA (Indonesia) shared the comments expressed by the Russian Federation on the report on item three on prevention of an arms race in outer space and recalled the joint statement by the Foreign Ministers of Indonesia and Russia on 1 July 2013 declaring that they would not in any way be the first to place weapons of any kind in outer space. The previous draft of the Russian-Chinese draft treaty on the prevention of placement of weapons in outer space, introduced in 2008, served as a basis to negotiate an international agreement on prevention of an arms race in outer space.
MATTHEW ROWLAND (United Kingdom), responding to the comments made by Russia and other delegations, reiterated that the report that the United Kingdom’s Ambassador made was done in his personal capacity, and that they had tried to find a balance on what they had heard in the informal meeting, not only on the prevention of placement of weapons treaty but also on the international code of conduct of outer space activities. They had not wanted to get into specifics on what was said on each, but they had felt that the balance that the report had was very general and generic as the discussion had shown. He wished to place on record that they found it surprising that the Russian Federation had now come with these comments, given that they saw a first draft of the report before it was released to the Conference’s membership, and had had an opportunity to comment before it was released.
ALEXANDER DEYNEKO (Russian Federation) thanked the President for allowing him to exercise his right of reply and to clarify what the United Kingdom had just said about being given prior, timely opportunity to familiarize itself with the report. The Russian delegation like all other delegations of the Conference did have the opportunity to familiarize itself with the report when it was distributed with the accompanying letter, along with the other reports. In other words, they saw it when it was officially distributed. Preliminary comments were made at the informal meeting of the Conference on 15 August. As he mentioned earlier, they raised the issue again today simply because their message and proposals were not reacted to.
DATO MAZLAN MUHAMMAD (Malaysia), Incoming President of the Conference on Disarmament, said this concluded their business for today. The next meeting of the Conference would take place on Tuesday, 26 August. He would submit letters this week on the draft report of the Conference to the General Assembly. The meeting was adjourned.
For use of the information media; not an official record