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CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT HEARS STATEMENTS BY ITS PRESIDENT, KENYA, UKRAINE, SOUTH AFRICA, RUSSIA, TURKEY AND UNITED STATES
24 June 2014

The Conference on Disarmament this morning heard statements by Ambassador Anthony Andanje of Kenya, the incoming President of the Conference, as well as Kenya, Ukraine, South Africa, Russia, Turkey and United States.

Ambassador Anthony Andanje of Kenya, the incoming President of the Conference, stated that in the increasingly interdependent world, none of the serious problems could be solved by any party alone.  Steady progress had been made under the schedule of activities, and work on the substantive agenda, while the debate on the substantive agenda items had been frank, unrestrained and occasionally interactive.  It was hoped that the adoption of a programme of work and commencement of disarmament negotiations could follow deliberations conducted in an informal setting.

Kenya said that it was fully committed to the Conference on Disarmament as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum for the international community.  It was Kenya’s conviction that disarmament was the best protection against the dangers of nuclear proliferation.  If the Conference were to move ahead, that would require renewed genuine commitment to build on the shared interests.  Some of the proposals submitted on the four main core issue of the agenda provided a useful basis on which the Conference could be built on with a view of moving ahead.

South Africa noted that there seemed to be a convergence of views for enhanced engagement with civil society and South Africa was encouraged by that development.  Efforts should also focus on forging agreement on possible formula that would allow the Conference to resume substantive work on the key priorities of the international community, particularly nuclear disarmament.  The idea of a framework convention might provide an opportunity to bridge the gap between strongly opposing positions.

Turkey said that the problems of the Conference were not caused by its rules of procedures or membership. There was currently no consensus on the enlargement of the Conference.  The focus should not be lost from the main substantive issues.

Ukraine welcomed the idea of establishing a subsidiary body to review the working methods of the Conference.  Although the Conference’s stalemate was not enrooted in the rule of consensus, it should be considered as a privilege for finding ways to reach a general agreement and not as an instrument for blocking negotiations.  Ukraine supported more active participation of civil society in the Conference.  The confidence in politically binding agreements had been compromised with the breach of the Budapest Memorandum  on security assurances to Ukraine by Russia, which was one of its Guarantor States.

Russia assured the President of its commitment to the disarmament process and pledged its support to him during his Presidency.  Russia noted that the territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine had been brought into question by the Ukrainian authorities themselves.

United States believed that Russia had indeed violated its commitments under the Budapest Memorandum.  United States strongly supported President Poroshenko’s efforts to de-escalate the situation and pursue a ceasefire in Ukraine.

This is the last public plenary of the second part of the 2014 session of the Conference on Disarmament.  The third part of the 2014 session will be held from 28 July until 12 September.

Statements

ANTHONY ANDANJE, Ambassador of Kenya and the incoming President of the Conference, stated that it was a great pleasure and honour to preside over the Conference.  In the increasingly interdependent world, none of the serious problems could be solved by any party alone. Mr. Andanje said that he would endeavour to uphold the spirit of cooperation among the P6 throughout his Presidency.

Since January, the Conference had made commendable progress in its work, and the Informal Working Group had been re-established and was to begin its work in late July.  Steady progress had been made under the schedule of activities, and work on substantive agenda items 1 to 4 was complete.  The debate on the substantive agenda items had been frank, unrestrained and occasionally interactive.  The Coordinators deserved credit for their professionalism and commitment, while delegations deserved praise for the enthusiasm they had shown and the high quality of debate that had characterized the deliberations. 

Mr. Andanje planned to continue his consultations with delegations and conduct his mandate in an open and transparent manner. Any proposals that could help move the work forward were welcome.  During his Presidency, reports on substantive agenda items from Coordinators in accordance with decision CD/1978 should be received.  It was hoped that the adoption of a programme of work and commencement of disarmament negotiations could follow deliberations conducted in an informal setting.

KENYA said that it was fully committed to the Conference on Disarmament as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum for the international community.  It was Kenya’s conviction that disarmament was the best protection against the dangers of nuclear proliferation.  As a non-nuclear State and a member of the G-21, Kenya attached the highest priority to nuclear disarmament, as the existence of nuclear weapons imposed a permanent and intolerable threat to all.  The inability of the Conference to resume serious substantive negotiations over the previous 17 years was a matter of great disappointment to Kenya.  The root cause of it lay in the Conference’s external environment, as the politics of competing national interests continued to define the relationships in the Conference. The issue of policy was central to the lack of movement towards nuclear disarmament, as nuclear weapons States favoured slow movement towards realizing a world free of nuclear weapons, preferring instead arms control and proliferation measures to nuclear disarmament. Kenya supported the international focus on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, which should be central to all disarmament efforts.  If the Conference were to move ahead, that would require renewed genuine commitment to build on the shared interests.  Some of the proposals submitted on the four main core issue of the agenda provided a useful basis on which the Conference could be built on with a view of moving ahead.

UKRAINE stated that it had always been supportive of initiatives aimed at enhancing the Conference’s functionality and procedural efficiency.  It welcomed the idea of establishing a subsidiary body to review the working methods.  Although the Conference’s stalemate was not enrooted in the rule of consensus, it should be considered as a privilege for finding ways to reach a general agreement and not as an instrument for blocking negotiations.  Ukraine supported more a active participation of civil society, which could generate a stimulus for public awareness and taking disarmament and non-proliferation issues on the broad international public agenda.  The issue of conducting negotiations on areas of common ground with a view of eventually producing framework conventions required more thorough consideration.  The “building blocks approach”, proposed by the Acting Secretary-General of the Conference, could become a viable option in that regard.  Reaching voluntary, politically binding agreements could be the first step, but should not become a goal in itself and replace the negotiation of legally binding treaties.   The confidence in politically binding agreements had been compromised with the breach of the Budapest Memorandum  on security assurances to Ukraine by one of its Guarantor States.  On the eve of the 20th anniversary of the Memorandum, Russia had violated almost each article of that fundamental document, except for article 5 – using nuclear weapons against Ukraine.  That was why the new President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, had said that Ukraine would now seek the adoption of an international agreement to replace the Budapest Memorandum and provide direct and reliable guarantees of peace and security.

SOUTH AFRICA thanked the Acting Secretary-General of the Conference for his proposals on the future work of the Conference and the subsequent clarifications.  There seemed to be a convergence of views for enhanced engagement with civil society and South Africa was encouraged by that development.  Efforts should also focus on forging agreement on possible formula that would allow the Conference to resume substantive work on the key priorities of the international community, particular nuclear disarmament.  The idea of a framework convention might provide an opportunity to bridge the gap between strongly opposing positions.  One possible formula on nuclear disarmament would be a universal, non-discriminatory, legally-binding agreement, which could include a commitment towards the conclusion of a set of mutually-reinforcing agreements covering the whole range of effective and pertinent measures. Voluntary, politically-binding measures could not serve as a substitute for legally-binding agreements that should be negotiated by the Conference.  South Africa had long supported the establishment of a subsidiary body on working methods aimed at revitalising the Conference, which could, inter alia, discuss the issue of continuity between Conference presidencies and sessions, the role and function of regional groups  and the engagement with civil society.  The consensus rule had never been intended as veto right to stop the Conference.  South Africa also supported the establishment of a subsidiary body on the prevention of an arms race in outer space, and regarded the draft treaty text submitted by Russia and China as a constructive contribution.

RUSSIA assured the President of its commitment to the disarmament process and pledged its support to him during his Presidency.  Russia had already expressed its views on the Budapest Memorandum on several occasions, and it was unfair to say that Russia had not complied with its essential provisions, which referred to the threat of usage of nuclear weapons.  The territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine had been brought into question by the Ukrainian authorities themselves. People in the Crimea had the right of self-determination in line with the United Nations Charter, and a huge majority of people had expressed their will in the referendum.  President Putin had clearly and unambiguously supported President Poroshenko’s calls for ceasefire and dialogue, but the bombings had carried on not only against the so-called terrorists, but also against peaceful population.  Many women and children were now accommodated in temporary housing as a result of that.  The situation was very complex, not black and white, and facts were often distorted by mass media.  The only solution was a dialogue, with all parties sitting together. Humanitarian corridors ought to stay open, and all rights – social, economic, cultural, linguistic – of local populations had to be respected.

TURKEY wished to see the immediate resumption of talks at the Conference in its present membership.  It was urgent to continue substantive talks on the programme of work.  The relevance of the Conference ought to be preserved by fulfilling its fundamental task – negotiating legally binding instruments.  The problems of the Conference were not caused by its rules of procedures or membership. There was currently no consensus on the enlargement of the Conference.  The focus should not be lost from the main substantive issues.

UNITED STATES assured the President of its full support.  The United States believed that Russia had indeed violated its commitments under the Budapest Memorandum. The United States strongly supported President Poroshenko’s efforts to deescalate the situation and pursue ceasefire in Ukraine. The United States asked all parties to take part in the dialogue.   

UKRAINE agreed with Russia that the situation in Ukraine was complex and certainly not easy, and, like Russia, Ukraine was committed to the dialogue.  The peace plan presented by the Ukrainian President on 20 June promulgated concrete and detailed steps to help stabilize Ukraine, which was affected by terrorist activity on its territory.  Ukraine was grateful for the  support of countries and international organizations to the peace plan.  Ukraine disagreed with Russia on Ukraine’s alleged violations of its obligations under the provisions of this document.   Shootings in Ukraine were primarily caused by terrorist groups in the south and the east of the country.  Ukraine also disagreed with the data on refugees provided by Russia, which did not correspond to the facts provided by the international organizations dealing with refugees. 


For use of the information media; not an official record

DC14/023E