3rd Session Group of Governmental Experts (GGE)
Delivered by Stephen Mathias
Head of the U.S. Delegation
July 25, 2008
Thank you Mr. Chairman. First of all, let me thank you for the extraordinary job you and your team are doing in leading these negotiations. We believe that we have made substantial progress in this session toward what we hope will be a successful outcome to these negotiations, and you and your team deserve an enormous amount of credit for that. Your draft text proved an excellent basis for work, as did your elements paper for Article 4. In addition, the way you organized our meetings during this session, providing plenty of time for intensive bilateral and multilateral informal sessions was extremely productive. I would also like to recognize the Friends of the Chair, who worked intensively to make significant progress on some very difficult issues.
Mr. Chairman, the task that now confronts all of us is to take the text that you have prepared, go back to our respective capitals and prepare for serious negotiations in September. The session we are now concluding has been extremely valuable in identifying issues, putting different ideas for text on the table, and clarifying national positions and preferences. However, delegations so far have not begun making the compromises needed to reach consensus. Clearly, that will be necessary in September. Therefore, we urge all delegations to come back in September having carefully studied the issues presented by the Chairman’s draft and prepared to work hard to find common ground. After this session, my delegation has the strong sense that a meaningful agreement is possible here this year. To make that happen though, we must approach the negotiations in September with flexibility and a respect for the national positions of other States. Otherwise, we are not likely to achieve anything.
Mr. Chairman, I fully endorse your proposal to dive right in at the beginning of our September session and tackle the issues in Articles 4, 5, 6, and relevant paragraphs of Article 2 right from the start of the September session. As many, many delegations have noted, these are extremely important issues for the ultimate success of these negotiations. And it will not be possible to reach agreement on a Protocol this year without making very substantial progress on them in September. As we noted in our intervention on Wednesday, we also believe that the international humanitarian law issues in Article 3 are very important to this Protocol. We look forward to serious work in our future sessions toward a resolution on those issues as well, as well as on the other important issues such as victim’s assistance.
Again, Mr. Chairman, let me thank you for all of your work and leadership, not only during the last three weeks, but throughout this year. My delegation is prepared to help you in any way we can to achieve our goal of a legally binding protocol to be finished this year. Let me also say to other delegations that we stand prepared to engage in bilateral discussions between now and September if that would be helpful in advancing our work.