February 23, 2011
Laura E. Kennedy
Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament
U.S. Special Representative for Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention Issues
U.S. Mission Geneva,
Book Launch of “Connections: The Historic Ties between Geneva and the United States of America”
Madame Mayor, Monsieur Coutau, distinguished guests and fellow Ambassadors, or the ‘Obama Girls’ as Ambassador King dubbed us on our arrival last year.
This beautifully illustrated and elegantly written book, Connections, does such a good job of discussing the central role that Switzerland and the canton of Geneva have played together with the United States in international arms control that I have little to add today other than to urge you all to delve into its contents.
The Swiss government, and our Genevoise friends, have contributed enormously in this field over many years. For hundreds of years, our Swiss partners have repeatedly provided the venue, contributed generously to arms control endeavors of every kind, and most importantly, been an active and skilled participant in many of these international negotiations and bodies. Most recently, I was delighted to take up a seat on the board of the Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining. From conventional weapons to weapons of mass destruction, the U.S. and its Swiss partners have cooperated extensively over the years in limiting and prohibiting much of these ‘deadly arsenals’ and seeking to come to grips with the rules of war. In addition to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, all three of the pillars of the global WMD non-proliferation regime, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, were negotiated here. The last of these, the BWC, is headquartered here, and will hold its 7th Review Conference in Geneva at the end of 2011. We hope that the Conference on Disarmament will again contribute to this extraordinary record by hosting the next key step towards a world without nuclear weapons, a negotiation banning the production of fissile materials for use in nuclear weapons. For bilateral relations, Geneva has also played host to many key meetings and negotiations between the U.S. and Russia, including New START, which has happily entered into force, and whose Bilateral Consultative Commission should begin to meet here this spring.
In addition to hailing the work of our respective governments, let me briefly play tribute to other organizations whose work has done so much to bind our nations together in pursuit of arms control and non-proliferation. Geneva is home to an impressive array of national and international academic institutions, think tanks, foundations and other non-governmental bodies that constitute a “critical mass” to sustain the chain reaction of intellectual and policy work on disarmament here and around the globe. Together we are pursuing that vision of a world without nuclear weapons.