Ambassador Robert Wood: Remarks at the Conference on Disarmament Plenary

Remarks by Ambassador Robert Wood
U.S. Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament

[AS DELIVERED] 

Conference on Disarmament Plenary
August 27, 2020

Thank you, Mr. President. On behalf of the United States, I congratulate you on your assumption of the CD Presidency and assure you of my delegation’s support as you guide us through the closure of the 2020 session. You have an unenviable task in these unprecedented times and we are grateful for your leadership.

I also want to thank you for the draft final report that you introduced in your capacity as CD President. We think it is a good report. I may have some suggested minor edits that I will share in the coming days. As I stated at our last plenary, the United States supports a technical report. We look forward to discussions on the report and recommend that it be adopted under silence procedure.

As several of my colleagues have stated, the CD’s finances and the associated impact on our ability to hold plenary meetings are of serious concern. We need clarity on the budget status, expenditures, and expected costs for both this year and next year. As much as we all wish we could operate in the 2021 session as we did before COVID, we need to be realistic and plan for a new normal. As I have said before, the United States believes hybrid options need to exist while COVID remains a significant concern to all nations, and they certainly need to exist for any meetings in New York. I want to thank Director General Valovaya on her briefing to the member states on these matters, which is scheduled to take place later today. My delegation will be participating in those discussions. We have reached back to our colleagues in New York, and we have no indications of similar budget constraints at UN Headquarters.

Looking towards next year, the United States concurs with those delegations that have expressed frustration at the inability of the CD to move forward substantively, or even procedurally. We also appreciate the suggestions made by several delegations for tangible steps we could take. For example, the United States continues to support FMCT negotiations, as raised by my colleagues from Japan and the Republic of Korea.

In the COVID era, when in-person meetings can put lives in danger, and travel is unpredictable at best, we must cast a discerning look at how this body can operate in a creative and innovative manner. And the need to move beyond business as usual will certainly ring true for the UN First Committee and for a successful NPT Review Conference in 2021. Mr. President, I have long advocated for a review of how the CD works, which may be even more pressing now in the new environment. I look forward to further consultations on bringing the CD into the 21st century – or, at a minimum, into the 20th.

These are tumultuous times, Mr. President. As such, dialogue and open lines of communication are more important than ever. We also need to take a collective deep breath and be realistic in moving forward as efficiently as possible. To that end, we thank you again, Mr. President, for your draft technical report and reiterate our suggestion that the CD adopt the final report under silence procedure.

Thank you.