ACCESSIBILITY AT UNOG A A A A The United Nations in the Heart of Europe

CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT HOLDS PLENARY, HEARS ADDRESS FROM ITS SECRETARY-GENERAL

CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT HOLDS PLENARY, HEARS ADDRESS FROM ITS SECRETARY-GENERAL
10 September 2013

The Conference on Disarmament this morning held a plenary meeting and heard a statement from Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Secretary-General of the Conference and Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, as well a statement by the Co-Chair of the Informal Working Group to produce a programme of work.

In his statement, Mr. Tokayev welcomed the high level engagement and interest by Member States in the Conference and its activities.  The international community rightly had high expectations of the Conference to fulfill its mandate for a safer and more secure world through disarmament.  Progress could be slow in multilateral diplomacy, aimed at producing sustainable results with the support of the international community, but a standstill could not be accepted.  Mr. Tokayev therefore welcomed the decision to establish the Informal Working Group to produce a programme of work, which could constitute a step, however small, in the right direction.  It was therefore important that the Group was given the opportunity to continue its work next year. The inter-sessional period could be used productively in support of the Conference and Mr. Tokayev encouraged the Co-chair and the Vice Co-Chair to continue their work.   Mr. Tokayev continued to believe in the value, importance and necessity of the Conference as the single, multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community, and reiterated his firm belief in and unwavering commitment to the Conference.

Ambassador Luis Gallegos Chiriboga of Ecuador, Co-Chair of the Informal Working Group to produce a Programme of Work, updated the Conference on the work of the Group, established by the Conference on 16 August with the mandate to produce a programme of work.  Mr. Gallegos Chiriboga believed that there was great interest among delegations in the work of the Informal Group and that, with its establishment, Member States had given a clear indication of their willingness to find innovative solutions to resume substantive work.  During the inter-sessional period, Mr. Gallegos  Chiriboga said he would be active, intensifying ongoing bilateral consultations and organizing additional focused consultations.    

Ambassador Gerard Corr of Ireland, President of the Conference on Disarmament, updated delegations about ongoing work on the draft report of the 2013 session of the Conference and invited delegations to discuss outstanding issues in an informal plenary.  Mr. Corr also welcomed the incoming Permanent Representative of Turkey, Ambassador Mehmet Ferden Carikci.

The delegations of Turkey, Pakistan and Estonia also took the floor during the meeting.

On Thursday, 12 September at 10 a.m., the Conference will hold its last plenary meeting to hear a statement from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar and formally adopt its report to the General Assembly of the United Nations. The 2013 session of the Conference on Disarmament will conclude on Friday, 13 September.

Statements

KASSYM-JOMART TOKAYEV, Secretary-General of the Conference and Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, welcomed the high level engagement and interest by Member States in the Conference and its activities, which should be built on and sustained.  The international community rightly had high expectations of the Conference to fulfill its mandate for a safer and more secure world through disarmament.  It was the Conference’s collective responsibility and obligation to live up to their expectations, in a spirit of flexibility and compromise.  Progress could be slow in multilateral diplomacy.  This was part and parcel of the process, aimed at producing sustainable results with the support of the international community, but a standstill could not be accepted.  There was not doubt that the differing security interests of the Member States in this chamber had considerably slowed the pace of work and progress in the Conference, but the sustained commitment to finding common ground was now in the process of bearing some fruit.  Mr. Tokayev therefore welcomed the decision to establish the Informal Working Group to produce a programme of work and thanked the membership for the trust placed on his initial proposal.  Mr. Tokayev believed this could be a step, however small, in the right direction and it could help lay the foundation for a new shared understanding of how the Conference could resume substantive work. 

Expectations needed to be realistic, as the resumption of substantive work could not happen overnight, but Members should not allow it to become a diversion from substantive work and a reiteration of well known positions.  While the Conference worked towards the realignment of the political priorities which would allow for negotiations to start in the Conference, the Informal Working Group could produce a programme of work that provided a basis for such negotiations to hit the ground running.   It was therefore important that the Group was given the opportunity to continue its work next year.  The three meetings held so far in a constructive and interactive spirit represented an important first step and the inter-sessional period could be used productively in support of the Conference.  In this context, Mr. Tokayev encouraged the Co-chair and the Vice Co-Chair to continue their work after the First Committee session and to convene open-ended informal consultations among members and observers of the Conference, with the close involvement of the outgoing and incoming Presidents, which would help maintain momentum.   Mr. Tokayev hoped that these consultations would then be followed by an early revalidation of decision CD/1956/Rev.1 for the new year.  Mr. Tokayev continued to believe in the value, importance and necessity of the Conference as the single, multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community, and reiterated his firm belief in and unwavering commitment to the Conference.

AMBASSADOR LUIS GALLEGOS CHIRIBOGA of Ecuador, Chair of the Informal Working Group to produce a Programme of Work, updating the Conference on Disarmament on the work of the Informal Working Group, recalled that three meetings had been held on 26 August and 2 and 9 September.  The first meeting had been dedicated to a general exchange of views and the remaining two had provided an opportunity for a discussion and exchange on a food-for-thought paper circulated by the Secretariat at Mr. Gallegos Chiriboga’s request.  At the first meeting of the Group, one delegation had requested the Secretariat to make a compilation of all previous Programmes of Work and related documents of the Committee on Disarmament and the Conference on Disarmament from 1979 to 2013, which was now available on the website of the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs under the section on “Proposals on a Programme of Work”.   Overall, Mr. Gallegos Chiriboga believed that there was great interest among delegations in the work of the Informal Group and that, with its establishment, the Member States of the Conference had given the clear indication of their willingness to find innovative solutions to resume substantive work and to move closer to eventual negotiations.  He had taken note of the wishes of delegations and would seek the common ground that would enable the President of the Conference to draw up a Programme of Work, as provided in CD/1956/Rev.1.  During the inter-sessional period, Mr. Gallegos Chiriboga said he would be active, intensifying ongoing bilateral consultations and organizing additional focused consultations.

Turkey reiterated its commitment to the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons and indicated that its security policies excluded the production and use of all kinds of weapons of mass destruction.  In order to address today’s challenges and enhance security in a volatile environment, multilateral efforts towards disarmament and non-proliferation were indispensable.  The ability to respond effectively to the pressing challenges to international peace and security depended heavily on the best use of international fora.  The Conference on Disarmament has a special responsibility in the contemporary disarmament agenda and Turkey hoped that the Conference would resume substantive work as early as possible.  The recently established Informal Working Group was an indication of a shared goal of the need to come up with a consensual programme of work.  Turkey hoped that the Informal Group could generate more mutual understanding and confidence, create the much needed breakthrough and move the Conference ahead into negotiations.  Turkey also attached great importance to the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction, and regretted that the Conference to this end had been postponed, calling upon all concerned to continue to work with the facilitator and conveners to hold this Conference as soon as possible. 

Pakistan recalled a statement issued by the National Command Authority, Pakistan’s highest decision making body on strategic issues, concerning a meeting held to give direction to its strategic policy on 5 September.  The statement had also been forwarded to the President of the Conference on Disarmament to be circulated to its Members.  The National Command Authority had reaffirmed the centrality of Pakistan’s nuclear programme for its defense and its full confidence on the command and security control structures related to its strategic assets.  The National Command Authority had also reviewed developments at the regional and international levels, considered its responsible policy of limited deterrence in the context of regional developments and took note of the development of discriminatory policies at the international level.  As for the proposed fissile material treaty, Pakistan’s position would be determined by its national security interest and the strategic balance in South East Asia.  Pakistan counted with the requisite credentials for full access to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, in order to meet its growing energy needs, and was ready to contribute its expertise and to offer nuclear fuel cycle services under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.

AMBASSADOR GERARLD CORR of Ireland, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said that the bulk of the report had been provisionally adopted and that a draft text, reflecting the amendments provisionally agreed on, would be re-issued in time for the formal adoption of the draft report of its 2013 session on Thursday.  Mr. Corr then invited delegations to discuss outstanding issues regarding the draft programme of work in an informal plenary meeting.  Mr. Corr also welcomed the incoming Permanent Representative of Turkey, Ambassador Mehmet Ferden Carikci.   

Estonia was pleased with the way in which questions related to the expansion of the membership, including the appointment of a special coordinator and regarding the Conference’s methods of work, had been included in the draft report.  These issues had been elaborated on during the 2013 session of the Conference and by the proposals put forward by Mr. Tokayev in June 2013.  Estonia regretted that one more year had passed without the Conference being able to adopt a programme of work and that there seemed to be only a minor likelihood of negotiations beginning soon.  However, Estonia was grateful that Observer States had been allowed to participate in the meetings of the Informal Working Group on a Programme of Work.  It was time to take concrete steps to improve the Conference’s working methods, to enhance its engagement with civil society, and to enlarge its membership in order to increase its legitimacy.  The value of procedural reform should not be underestimated.  The Conference’s agenda encompassed global concerns which should be negotiated in a non discriminatory way and with wider participation, and there was no reason why interested States should not be allowed to take part. 


For use of the information media; not an official record

DC13/038E