Senior Advisor Mather-Marcus’s Remarks to the
Conference on Disarmament Plenary Session
May 24, 2022
Thank you Mr. President. Thank you to everyone.
Before I begin the substance of my remarks, I would just like to say we took note with great interest of the Russian delegation’s remarks and look forward to fuller discussion of considerations of the Rules of Procedure and what the different rules may mean.
I would just like to re-state our position, as is I believe the position of everyone here, that any delegation may raise issues that it believes are pertinent to the Conference and particularly those that we believe affects the ability of the Conference to do its work.
I believe that the majority understands that includes the international security context, as we are meant to – as a body – move forward on negotiations.
Moving to the substance of my remarks.
The United States aligns itself with the G7 statement as read by the distinguished representative of Germany at our last meeting. And I would like to add a few points in our national capacity.
On May 18, we again raised the flag over the United States Embassy in Kyiv.
The resumption of operations at the Embassy in Kyiv demonstrates our support for Ukraine and trust in Ukraine’s security services to keep the international diplomatic community safe. More importantly, it allows us to conduct in-person engagement with the Government of Ukraine and our wide range of diplomatic, international organization, civil society and other partners – including in support of our military, economic, and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine.
It also permits us to assess humanitarian needs on the ground better and work with our implementing partners to facilitate humanitarian relief efforts and the delivery of assistance to the people of Ukraine.
Our team will continue to engage with the Ukrainian government, civil society, diplomatic and other partners in Ukraine as part of our efforts to support Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression.
I also must add a few words in response to the Belarusian Ambassador’s statement last week. In that statement, Belarus tried to distance itself from its complicity in Russia’s unprovoked, illegal invasion of Ukraine. The fact is that Belarus was a staging ground for tens of thousands of Russian combat troops who floated into Ukraine, have been attacking its cities, killing civilians, engaging in looting and numerous other activities that are in complete violation of international humanitarian law.
The United States, along with our allies and partners, will continue to hold Belarus to account for its complicity in the Kremlin’s unconscionable war against Ukraine.
Turning to our ongoing efforts regarding the necessary linguistic updates to our rules of procedure.
As we said in the informal setting last week, we appreciate your efforts to bring us to an acceptable resolution. And we thank the Ambassadors of China and Colombia for recognizing the importance of this issue and setting the stage for us to reach this point this year.
Thank you for the context you outlined at the start of the meeting. However, I must re-state that for the vast majority of delegations, OP1 as circulated is not an acceptable solution. Stating that male pronouns should be read as male and female is not progress. As our Australian colleagues said last week, we can do better in 2022.
To that end, the United States absolutely supports the quick adoption of a decision that updates the rules of procedure to be gender neutral, in line with the Option 1 text that you circulated.
Unfortunately, the Conference is being held up by delegations who claim to support gender equity, but then oppose this simple, but immensely meaningful step.
Mr. President, in your opening remarks – and I’m paraphrasing a bit here – you stated that some delegations feel it is unacceptable to open the rules of procedure “just” for these changes, when there are other issues of equal or more important relevance.
If that is the case, we would support larger discussions about those concerns. Again, however, we believe substantive issues are separate from this issue, which should be viewed as a simple update – in line with updating the name of a country.
We understand some colleagues have suggestions for how to get us back on track and we look forward to coming to an acceptable solution that can be adopted this year.