May 15, 2012
I hope you can convey our thanks to the President of the U.N. General Assembly, Ambassador Al-Nasser, for addressing the Conference on Disarmament.
Like many of his predecessors, he voiced the frustration broadly shared by the international community, including most of us in this room, with the CD’s inability to perform its mandate of conducting disarmament negotiations. The Secretary-General has also repeatedly urged the CD to fulfill this core responsibility as has our own Secretary General of the CD.
Sadly, we have heard this lament for more than 15 years and despite our best efforts, we appear no closer now to meeting this responsibility than we were three years ago in the CD, when we finally reached consensus on a finely-balanced program of work in CD 1864, under the able Presidency of Algeria.
We have been flexible, working with others, including recently our Egyptian President who energetically put forward CD 1933, in an effort to find a further compromise, and one which we decided we could support. As the president of the U.N. General Assembly just urged us, we supported an approach which was designed to be in President’s words, “consensual and realistic” although not “necessarily perfect.”
And yet we remain stuck. We are all evaluating our options. For our part, we are working with partners to galvanize the CD, in an effort to find a way forward. We cannot lose sight of the international community’s long-term goal to begin FMCT negotiations. Others are looking at other options, including within an UNGA framework. For our part, it is essential that any option for an FMCT be predicated on a consensus working basis and include key stakeholders, such as those with the capacity to produce fissile material, to meet the objectives of the treaty.
We are not dedicated to preserving the CD for the sake of preserving the CD. Nor do we think the UNGA will have all the answers. It would not be productive for the UNGA, for example, to simply re-plow ground long covered here in Geneva.
Let me reiterate that we are open to substantive discussions on the agreed core issues, but the international community has long been ready to negotiate an FMCT. Indeed, as far back as SSOD I, 34 years ago, and the foundation of the CD, it has been an international priority. In other fora, such as the NPT, States parties also highlighted this immediate disarmament priority at the 2010 Review Conference, and again in the last two weeks at the 1st Prepcom in Vienna which was so effectively chaired by our colleague, Australian Ambassador Woolcott.
We hope, perhaps against the odds, that the CD in the time remaining for this session will allow work to proceed on an FMCT. Our governments did not send us here to endlessly discuss procedure and negotiate phantom programs of work, they, or certainly my government, sent us here to negotiate substance, beginning with this next step for nuclear disarmament. Failure to take this next step will not move us closer to the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. If we cannot take this next step in the CD, all those who share the goal of a world without nuclear weapons, will have to find another means to accomplish it.
Thanks again to the President of the UN General Assembly for sharing his perspectives; we look forward to working with him in the fall.
Let me extend a warm welcome to our new colleagues from Bulgaria, Finland and Italy. I ask my new Bulgarian colleague to convey best wishes to our former colleague and friend, Ambassador Ganchev.
Thank you, Mr. President.