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3 June 2014

The Conference on Disarmament today heard responses to proposals by its Acting Secretary-General, Michael Møller, on how to revitalize the Conference.

Ambassador Mukhtar Tileuberdi of Kazakhstan, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said that last week he had suggested that the Conference devote today’s plenary to the consideration of the proposals made by the Acting Secretary-General of the Conference, Michael Møller, on May 20.  After further consultations with many Member States, he had decided that today’s plenary should also provide an opportunity for delegations to raise any other issue deemed of importance to their work.

Speaking  in the plenary were Japan, Malaysia, Ecuador, Poland, Finland, Italy, France, Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, Germany, Belarus, United States, Russia, Pakistan, India and Brazil. 

On 20 May, Mr. Møller, noting the eighteen-year deadlock which had prevented the Conference on Disarmament from negotiating new disarmament treaties, made four proposals to the Conference.  First, he invited the Conference to consider negotiations on agenda items where areas of common ground could be identified with a view eventually to produce framework conventions to which substantive protocols may be subsequently negotiated and added.  Second, the Conference did not have to aim at negotiating legally binding instruments only, even if this was the ideal goal.  There could be merit, also, in exploring issues for which voluntary, politically binding regimes may be negotiated.  Third, he called for the establishment of a subsidiary body on the working methods of the Conference, and fourth, he suggested the holding of an informal Conference-Civil Society Forum, hosted by the Secretary-General of the Conference.

Mr. Møller attended today’s plenary but did not address the Conference.

The next public plenary of the Conference will be at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 10 June. 


Ambassador MUKHTAR TILEUBERDI of Kazakhstan, Incoming President of the Conference on Disarmament, said that last week he had suggested that the Conference devote today’s plenary to the consideration of the proposals made by the Acting Secretary-General of the Conference, Michael Møller, on May 20.  After further consultations with many Member States, he had decided that today’s plenary should also provide an opportunity for delegations to raise any other issue deemed of importance to their work.

JAPAN thanked Mr. Møller for his thought provoking ideas dedicated to revitalizing the work of the Conference.  Regarding the “negotiations on areas of common ground with a view eventually to produce framework conventions”, Japan wished to know in more detail what Mr. Møller had in mind as “framework conventions”.  The priority of immediately commencing the negotiation on an Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty remained unchanged, but this did not exclude Japan from accepting other measures addressed to achieve a secure world free of nuclear weapons because it believed a number of concrete measures could be taken in parallel and simultaneously without aligning them on a strict linear sequence.  Japan and other Member States had introduced the “building block approach”.  Since nuclear disarmament influenced national security, the emphasis here lay naturally upon the steady and continuous implementation of practical measures or “building blocks”.  How would the proposed “framework convention” fit into this approach.  The majority of States were already engaged in at least one solid framework, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which included agreed benchmarks for nuclear disarmament, such as the “13 practical steps” of the 2000 RevCon and the Action Plan agreed in the 2010 Final Document.  Priority should be placed first on accomplishing these benchmarks.  Second, could Mr. Møller clarify if he had any specific ideas regarding the “voluntary, politically binding regimes” to be negotiated in the Conference? 

Regarding the working methods, Japan believed it was a good idea to establish a subsidiary body on this issue, there should be something they could do to facilitate the work of the Conference without hindering the principle of the consensus rule.  Concerning civil society participation, Japan would be ready to participate in an informal Conference on Disarmament-Civil Society Forum hosted by Mr. Møller, and such a forum could be held after the end of the informal substantive meetings under the schedule of activities in mid-August.

MALAYSIA thanked Mr. Møller for sharing his thoughts on the way forward for the Conference.  The four ideas proposed merited further deliberation and study by the Conference.  The Conference had been stagnant for far too long.  The absence of consensus for the past 18 years on the way forward for its four core agenda items was more than sufficient reason for the Conference to take a step back and consider alternative means.   On the first proposal to consider negotiations on areas of common ground, with a view to eventually produce framework conventions to which substantive protocols may be subsequently negotiated, the current deadlock was due to the different positions with regard to the four core issues.  Rather than arguing on which was the priority of the Conference, they could have progress by focusing on areas of shared interest and build upon these foundations.  Then again, what were those common grounds on areas of shared interest, and were they sufficient or substantial enough to build upon.  Mr. Møller was asked to expand more on this proposal.  Malaysia also needed further elaboration on whether the second proposal on negotiating voluntary, politically binding regimes fell within the ambit of the Conference.  Malaysia remained to be convinced whether non-legally binding or politically binding instruments would be the way forward to the effective prohibition and ban of nuclear weapons. 

Malaysia welcomed the proposal to establish a subsidiary body to examine and make proposals on the improvement of the working methods of the Conference.  Focusing on the consensus rule may not be the answer, but on paper, it was unacceptable that the whole of the Conference could be prevented from doing its work by a minority.  Concerning the proposal for the holding of an informal Conference on Disarmament-Civil Society Forum to be hosted by Mr. Møller, Malaysia looked forward to receiving further elaboration on the modalities of such a forum.  Perhaps this forum could take place initially outside of the conference until such time that it became acceptable, which Malaysia hoped would not take long.  They must accept the fact that the Conference had already lost its relevance since so many efforts were being undertaken outside the ambit of the conference, and Malaysia welcomed every proposal to advance the work of the Conference, and the suggestions put forth by Mr. Møller were certainly a positive contribution in the conduct of their work.

ECUADOR thanked the work of the P6, which had given rise to tangible results, such as the re-establishment of the informal working group with a mandate to produce a programme of work for the Conference that was robust in substance and progressive in implementation, and the adoption of the schedule of activities for the Conference on Disarmament in order to maintain focused discussions on all agenda items of the Conference.  The initial informal discussions held on nuclear disarmament were indicative of the usefulness and importance of this initiative to encourage the active involvement of delegations in discussing the issue under the microscope.  On the work of the informal working group, on 19 May, this group met for the first time to discuss the proposals presented.  At that meeting, a document was tabled containing a draft programme of work which included proposals on negotiations on all the agenda items of the Conference on Disarmament.  Building upon the informal discussions held within the schedule of activities could be vital in order to create a common ground for negotiations.  At that same meeting, proposals were tabled for the negotiation of two of the principal items of the Conference on a combined basis, or a suggestion to focus on agenda item five, leaving aside the four principal agenda items.  These efforts were aimed at seeking consensus and bringing to an end the long-standing deadlock within the Conference, but they were not exclusive and other suggestions were welcomed.   The informal working group was seeking the cooperation of all delegations, seeking their support and the tabling of new suggestions and ideas in order to arrive at the long-awaited programme of work on a consensus basis.  The second meeting of the informal working group would take place either immediately before or after the Third Review Conference, to be held shortly in Maputo, and the date and time of the second meeting would be communicated in due course.  Ecuador supported the President’s suggestion of inviting external experts to meetings of the informal working group because their participation could be very useful to the work of the Conference. 

Responding preliminarily to the proposals by Mr. Møller, on negotiating a framework convention, Ecuador believed this to be an interesting approach widely used in diplomatic relations.  It had the merit of trying to move the Conference forward to the negotiation stage.  The framework convention should not present any obstacle to anyone and would allow them to begin negotiations on specific additional protocols on each agenda item.  Ecuador was in favour of starting negotiations within the Conference on Disarmament and was willing to support this suggestion if it gained consensus.  On negotiating politically binding agreements for conventions, Ecuador was well disposed and intrigued by the innovative proposal, which could open the door to legally binding treaties at a later date.  On methods of work of the Conference, Ecuador  
believed that the root cause of the stalemate and the blockage in the Conference was due to the lack of flexibility and political will shown by States when it came to beginning negotiations on nuclear disarmament.  Should this proposal enjoy consensus, Ecuador would also support it.  On interaction of the Conference with civil society and convening a forum, Ecuador endorsed and welcomed this initiative. Ecuador fully supported the active participation of civil society in the work of the Conference, and the broadening of the membership of the Conference. 

POLAND said Poland continued to believe that the Conference on Disarmament was still able to regain its role as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating body, in particular in the area of nuclear disarmament.  Poland also shared the Acting Secretary-General’s assessment that the disarmament machinery, and the Conference in particular, had been clogged for much too long.  Any proposals, including those made by the Secretary-General, that may lead to breading the Conference’s deadlock deserved careful consideration.  At the same time, it was fair to say that the level of their engagement would depend on the assessment of whether or not suggested efforts brought the Conference closer to achieving concrete, practical outcome of their work.  Concerning the schedule of activities, the Conference already had at its disposal a large number of proposals and material as on any of the Conference’s four core agenda items.  Building on that and trying to identify during the discussion areas of common grounds on each of the core issues could move things a bit forward, even without prejudice whether and how this may be further used.  On negotiating politically binding regimes, the Acting Secretary-General had noted that the Conference did not exist in isolation.  Consequently, they could not ignore the fact that the trust in political declarations had been recently rather seriously undermined.  This implied that efforts to rebuild this trust would probably be required before considering this issue deeper. 

Finally, concerning the review of the rules of procedure, which could also include relations with civil society, the question was to what extent consideration of this issue could be helpful in breaking the stalemate in the Conference.  In Poland’s view, the principal problem faced by the Conference was of political rather than procedural nature.  If the Conference decided to have a discussion on the methods of work, they should frame it in a way that would make the Conference more efficient, which was easy to say, but may be much more difficult to implement.  Part of the reasons for this long stalemate in the Conference could be found outside of this chamber and the debate in the Conference merely reflected the state of play in the international security environment. 

FINLAND said Finland welcomed all initiatives aimed at getting the Conference back to work.  Finland agreed with Mr. Møller that there had been some positive developments in the disarmament field.  Regarding the Acting Secretary-General’s specific proposals, Finland would be ready to explore ideas like framework negotiations, or negotiating politically binding regimes, for example within the context of the informal working group.  The working methods of the Conference were rather old fashioned.  The monthly rotation of the presidency, the blocked expansion of membership, the slim connections with civil society and the way the consensus rule was applied were not really conducive for producing a working environment.  Holding a Conference on Disarmament-Civil Society forum could be useful, and at the same time a rather modest step for the Conference to meet civil society.  After holding such a forum, the Conference could then consider possible further action as it say fit.  Finland was ready to work on all these and other possible proposals to revitalize the Conference.

ITALY said Italy highly appreciated Mr. Møller’s statement addressed to the Conference and considered the series of constructive proposals put forward in that context worthy of careful consideration.  A debate on these proposals would help them reflect on which concrete and practicable steps could be taken to improve the efficiency and the effectiveness of the work of the Conference.  Italy shared the view of those who considered that the deadlock of the Conference was primarily due to a lack of political will, but it was also convinced that the Conference should rely on processes and procedures that could facilitate its work and consensus building, rather than making it more complicated.  Therefore, Italy welcomed the proposal to have a review of the working methods of the Conference, and to establish a subsidiary body for this purpose.  It also favoured the idea of having an informal Conference-Civil Society Forum, hosted by the Secretary-General, before the end of 2014.  The Conference would benefit from a greater interaction with civil society.  The Forum proposed by Mr. Møller was a very reasonable solution and Italy shared the view that the Forum could take place after the completion of the schedule of activities agreed for this year.  Italy also welcomed the other two proposals mentioned in the statement of the Secretary-General on how to re-energize their negotiating activities. 

FRANCE said Kazakhstan and France had just taken an important step forward through signing on 6 May in New York of the protocol to the treaty establishing a zone free of nuclear weapons in Central Asia.  This demonstrated the effective step-by-step approach, which underpinned the action plan adopted by consensus during the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in 2010.  Mr. Møller’s statement had formulated avenues for the Conference to explore to revitalize the work of the Conference, amongst which were avenues regarding the work of the Conference.  The deadlock in the Conference was first and foremost of a political origin.  No one could ignore the consensus, minus one, to launch negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons.  Even if it was a political and not a procedural blockage, they should not prevent themselves from considering ways in which they could improve the functioning of the body.  The rule of consensus should be maintained, as it was the guarantee in the participation of all interested, active stakeholders.  It was also assurance that the negotiated agreement would be applied by all those who had adopted them.  However, over the years, the practise in the Conference had moved progressively away from consensus to unanimity, which was much more formal and restrictive notion, and it was applied to all decisions, whether substantive or procedural, at all stages of the procedure.  The role of the President also merited some consideration.  The Presidency should be a driving force to make proposals and summarize positions and help compromises to be struck. 

Political commitments often played an important role in the sphere of arms control.  The Conference should be open to such proposals.  One of the reasons why the Conference had not ventured along this path in the past was that they had locked themselves within the concept of the four core issues; they had become prisoners to this concept.  Mr. Møller also suggested that they hold an informal debating forum open to different speakers from the academic sphere, from think tanks and from non-governmental organizations, within the context of the Conference.  France was always open to debate, and it believed that there should be the greatest degree of representativeness and real diversity of speakers.  Such an informal forum should maintain a link with the Conference and should not propose to become a parallel body.  The idea of a conventional framework agreement was much more complex than it might first appear.  It would lead them to open up a debate on what should appear in the framework convention, and what could be postponed to a later date, and France was not sure that this was a pragmatic path for the Conference to follow.  It might give rise to highly dogmatic debates with no real solutions. 

REPUBLIC OF KOREA said despite the long dormancy of the Conference, the Republic of Korea still believed in its potential and welcomed the proposals made by Mr. Møller.  The Republic of Korea was open to various options to get the negotiations started within the framework of the Conference, including the one proposed by the Acting Secretary-General of the Conference to negotiate on areas of common ground with a view to eventually produce a framework.  However, there was still grey area concerning the idea of a framework convention.  It was unclear how different the negotiation on common ground areas would be from that of a framework convention, or at which stage the framework convention should be taken into deliberation.  This idea needed to be elaborated more for further discussion.  Second, with regard to another option of negotiating a politically-binding regime, the Conference was designed from the outset to be a negotiating body, and it could not compromise the very objective of the body for what would be perhaps a mere convenient achievement.

It was worthwhile to review the working methods in the Conference.  Among many other things, the current rotational basis for a relatively short-term presidency was disrupting the evolvement of discussions which built on previous progress.  A longer-term presidency was needed.  However, the Republic of Korea preferred a more informal setting to the establishment of a subsidiary body in that it could nurture frank exchange of views among Member States.  Interaction with civil society was also important.  However, in the context of the Conference, there had been a limitation on civil society’s participating in order for Member States to focus on the priority of the Conference, that was to get the negotiations to move forward.  The Republic of Korea believed that the priority should continue to focus on the negotiating process among Member States.  

NETHERLANDS said the Netherlands shared the sense of urgency expressed by Mr. Møller for getting the Conference on Disarmament to move on its mandate.  This was not an easy task, and they very much appreciated the suggestions.  It was, however, the Conference itself that had to move.  This year, the informal working group and the schedule of activities had shown new possibilities and interesting discussions on which they had to build further.  The Netherlands saw the proposals of Mr. Møller as a further chance of making real progress in this regard.  On the first proposal on exploring via their discussions under the schedule of activities if common ground could be found under any of the core items and to start negotiations on these areas of common ground with a view eventually to produce framework conventions to which substantive protocols may be subsequently negotiated and added, the Netherlands agreed that they should use their discussions under the schedule of activities if common ground could be found under any of the core items.  This required that they try to move beyond their initial, often politically motivated positions, and see if they could move forward on the technical issues.  This was a worthwhile exercise.  On the second half of the proposal, the Netherlands would have to first see what they exactly meant by framework conventions.  Movement may be possible on a technical level, but agreement on what would be a political framework may prove to be more difficult.  On the second proposal on exploring issues for which voluntary, politically binding regimes may be negotiated, the Netherlands would like more clarification.  As the job of the Conference was to negotiate legally binding treaties, would politically binding regimes not move them further away from the Conference’s original mandate, and what exactly was meant by politically binding regimes.  The Conference should link their discussions to future negotiations. 

The Netherlands fully supported the third suggestion to have focused discussions on a review of the working methods of the Conference through a subsidiary body.  There was a need for reviewing working methods in order to improve and ease the way they did business in the Conference.  Finally, the Netherlands strongly supported the suggestion to hold an informal  Conference-Civil Society Forum.  This forum could be held after the schedule of activities discussions in mid-August.

GERMANY said that with reference to Mr. Møller’s first proposal on the production of a framework convention and subsequently negotiated protocols, Germany doubted that this suggestion would bring them closer to the goal of negotiations since contentious questions remained unanswered.  However, Germany was very much open to a further discussion and suggest a further concretization of the proposal.  Negotiations on voluntary, politically binding regimes, the second proposal, could be an interesting approach, however, it should detract from the Conference’s main task to become again the central multilateral negotiating forum for legally binding treaties such as the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty.  At the same time, more consideration could be given to what disarmament issue could be addressed in such a voluntary and only politically binding form.  The third issue on creating a subsidiary body for scrutinizing the working methods of the Conference was appreciated.  Germany supported the idea of a Conference which was open towards the accession of new Member States and also advocated the participation of civil society.  Germany would also recommend a more flexible approach with the application of the rule of consensus in procedural matters and where issues of national security were not directly affected.  Finally, on addressing the holding of a civil society forum before the end of 2014, Germany supported the proposal due to the possibility of creating added-value to the debate.  The Conference could meet in one or two sessions under inclusion of civil society actors concerning the topics of the schedule of activities. 

BELARUS said Belarus was highly flexible and was prepared to support the idea of agreeing on framework conventions on one of the topics on the agenda of the Conference, but the key precondition for this initiative to be implemented was the presence of political will and a consensus.  Concerning the negotiation of the Conference of non-legally binding instruments, Belarus had proposed that this be discussed two years ago, and it had repeated it during the last session as a plan B.  There were different groups of governmental experts working on issues like fissile material and on cyber security , which were in reality working in the field of activities of the Conference on Disarmament and could be discussed within the Conference.  The Conference could then produce some sort of guidance in the form of reports to the Secretary-General.  In this case, they could save some money from the United Nations budget.  If there was evidence that there was no possibility for the Conference to start negotiations during this session or next year, the Conference could receive a mandate to discuss and produce guidelines or political documents.  The main purpose of this would be promoting consensus among States parties, including good coordination as delegations participated in the work. 

Concerning the improvement of working methods, previous sessions of the Conference had discussed this topic.  Belarus believed that they should be very cautious, and their main task was to find consensus on an item to start negotiations, they had to do all that was possible to preserve the current structure of the Conference until the time when negotiations would be possible.  Concerning the proposal to prolong the terms of office of presidents of the Conference, Belarus believed that the current system of rotation was the most democratic one and accepted the P6 formula. 

UNITED STATES joined the French Ambassador in expressing the appreciation of the United States for the May 6 ceremony in which they joined Kazakhstan in signing the protocol to the Central Asia nuclear free weapon zone.  In preliminary comments, the United States underlined its appreciation for the many efforts of the Acting Secretary-General.  On the Conference negotiating general framework conventions, the United States believed it would be useful to have a better understanding as to what specifically would be envisioned and how the proposal would impact their work in the Conference in terms of process and substance.  It was not evident to the United States that this approach would help break the current impasse in the Conference.  Moreover, as regards nuclear disarmament, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and Action Plan already provided the necessary context and objectives for next steps on disarmament and achieving a nuclear free world.  The United States was ready to pursue further reductions in all categories of nuclear weapons in negotiations with Russia, and it was ready to start Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty talks here in the Conference.  Regarding the proposal that the Conference consider negotiating political commitments in some cases, the United States believed this was an interesting idea that merited further discussion, and was prepared to consider such proposals on a case by case basis.  It was important to preserve the Conference’s foundational role as the single standing multilateral forum for negotiating legally binding treaties.

As regard the proposal to establish a subsidiary body to examine the working methods of the Conference, this issue has long been on the agenda of the Conference.  The United States strongly supported the consensus rule, and did not believe that the impasse in the Conference was the result of the Conference’s rules of procedure.  It would be open to explore improvements in the working methods of the Conference in a subsidiary body during the current session if other Member States wished to do so.  Finally, regarding the proposal to hold a forum this year for the Conference to meet informally with civil society, the United States was open to pursuing this idea further.  The United States looked closely to working with the President, the P6, other delegations and the secretariat in examining these proposals.

RUSSIAN FEDERATION said the United States completely agreed with other delegations that welcomed the successful signing of the protocol to the treaty establishing the Central Asian nuclear weapon free zone.  The proposals of the Acting Secretary-General of the Conference deserved their close attention and support.  On the idea of framework conventions, the Russian Federation believed that this kind of international legal act was only one of many options that the Conference could explore during its work.  The Conference should pursue legally binding international instruments, and Russia did not see anything stopping them from examining this possibility too.  Russia had the same assessment of the approach of the Acting Secretary-General to the issue of politically binding instruments.  Once again, they were talking about negotiations.  In both cases, the content of the legally binding or politically binding document was what was key for Russia, and whether delegations were able to move toward a compromise.  On working methods, Russia agreed that the problems of the Conference did not lie with the procedures of the Conference, but elsewhere.  If changes to the working methods might help the Conference find consensus, the Russian Federation was willing to look at that option, on the basis of the existing agenda and the core issues of the Conference.  The Russian Federation was also prepared to examine the issue of participation of civil society, but here, it was interested to know what would be the topic of discussions with civil society.  Would it be a free or open agenda, or would there be specific subjects so that the debate was focused.  Russia could discuss at length whether or not they should exchange ideas on the format of the work of the Conference, but it would only draw conclusions once it had conducted a pilot experiment.  Of course, in each and every proposal, they could find issues to criticise, but it was much more useful and practical for the work of the Conference and its revitalization for the proposals to be looked at not from a critical point of view, but from a constructive point of view.  Russia could not fail to point out the Russian proposal pursuant to which it suggested the simplified programme of work on all four agenda items, and based on that discussion they could identify which issues were the most mature ones to achieve a compromise.  The Russian Federation considered an arms race in outer space to be such an issue, and it believed they could really make progress during the thematic discussions on that particular topic.   

PAKISTAN said it appreciated the proposals made by Mr. Møller and the spirit in which he had made them.  They were a constructive contribution to help the Conference move toward its substantive work, beyond where they had been for the past few years.  The proposals would take them beyond mere discussions towards more substantive work.  The proposals deserved to be seriously contemplated and discussed.  As regards the idea that they look at a common ground with the view to producing a framework convention to which substantial protocols could be added, this was a useful suggestion that should be further explored.  This should not be approached as a proposal that substituted negotiations in the Conference, but actually supplemented and complemented eventual negotiations in the Conference.  Thus the proposal should not be rejected out of hand as not being within the competence of the Conference.  Second, on negotiated politically binding regimes, once again, there were precedents and where some countries had declared a national voluntary moratorium on fissile material.  Perhaps they could begin by changing this national voluntary moratorium into a multilateral voluntary moratorium.  As regards having focus discussions on a review of the working methods, Pakistan was ready to have such a focussed discussion.  However, it felt that the problem in the Conference was not procedural, rather it was related to substance.  A necessary environment globally, on the ground, was needed where negotiations on an issue became possible, and that ultimately depended on the security of States.  Once those conditions were met, then negotiations became possible.  So it was not really an issue of procedure.

Pakistan had heard today attempts to describe what consensus was, but had never heard of the concept of consensus minus one, consensus was consensus, it was like being pregnant, either you were pregnant or you were not, there was either consensus or there was no consensus.  Finally, regarding the idea of having civil society being involved more actively, Pakistan wholeheartedly and fully supported this proposal.  Civil society could make a good contribution to the work of the Conference. 

INDIA said on the day that the proposals were made, India had conveyed to the Acting Secretary-General its appreciation for them and its readiness to look at them and other proposals in order to improve and strengthen the effectiveness of the Conference.  India was willing to look at these proposals, as long as the essential character of the Conference, as established as a consensus based negotiating forum of Member States, was maintained and preserved.  India had heard with interest the comments made today.  Some had spoken in favour, others had asked for more clarity.  India could associate itself with a number of comments that had been made for further consideration of the Secretary-General’s proposals.  To take their work forward, India suggested that an informal plenary be organized that would facilitate a more in-depth as well as an interactive discussion amongst Member States to see how they could concretize the Secretary-General’s proposals into something that was actionable at some later stage in the future.  This was an issue that was to be decided by the Member States themselves, though of course they remained deeply appreciative of the fact that the Acting Secretary-General had devoted considerable time and effort in bringing these ideas to the Conference, and they were now on the table for the active consideration of the Conference.  An informal plenary in India’s view would facilitate a more in-depth and interactive discussion. 

BRAZIL said in preliminary comments that Brazil welcomed the proposal to hold an informal Conference on Disarmament-Civil Society Forum as it strongly believed that the participation of civil society in both formal and informal meetings would greatly contribute to raise public awareness regarding the issues discussed within the Conference.  Brazil would also certainly join a consensus emerging among members of the Conference with regard to improvement in the working methods of the Conference.  However, it held the view that the problems faced by the Conference were not related to institutional or procedural issues.  The criticism of the rule of procedure, in particular the consensus rule, was not consistent.  Brazil was convinced that the prolonged impasse faced by the Conference was the result of a lack of political will.  Thirdly, even though they saw some merit in identifying areas of agreement and common ground among members of the Conference, Brazil continued to believe that for the purpose of negotiations, they could not pick and choose from among the core issues.  A balanced programme of work must encompass the simultaneous establishment of four subsidiary bodies on nuclear disarmament, a fissile material treaty, the prevention of an arms race in outer space and negative security assurances.  These four core issues could not be evaded.  Brazil discouraged initiatives that tried to partially amend the operation of the Conference based on a limited goal and restricted to only one issue, such as, for example, fissile material.  Brazil believed that any reform effort should consider the United Nations disarmament machinery as a whole and not only the Conference on Disarmament.  That was why Brazil supported the convening of a Fourth Special Session of the General Assembly on Disarmament, which would provide an opportunity for a comprehensive and inclusive debate on all aspects of disarmament.

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