Statement Regarding Requests for Conference on Disarmament Observer Status in the 2024 Session
As Delivered by Ambassador Bruce Turner
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will try to be brief, and I will try also not to quote my UK colleague. Two points I would like to make – or three points.
The first one is that was quite an extraordinary intervention we just heard from the Russian Federation. I would simply like to comment that there is no such thing as an anti-Russian campaign. What has happened is that Russia invaded Crimea in 2014, and then Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, and the international community is responding to that unprovoked aggression by trying to stand up and defend the international order and the UN Charter. This is not an anti-Russian campaign.
In terms of what happened today with the observers, I want to make clear that the United States supports the maximum participation of observers of sovereign states in our work. We believe they have much to contribute.
It is true we blocked one of 37 for reasons which we have elaborated on, legal reasons. I understand that a number of countries do not agree with that and that they have a different interpretation. However, there is a big difference between blocking one of 37 and blocking 14 of 37. And I would also note that the very countries that repeatedly accused the United States of double standards in blocking one country do not seem to have any words for the fact that another country today blocked 14 candidates. So I would suspect that all of us can charge somebody with having double standards.
And I would also simply note that the United States – and I think it is obvious to everyone, you may not agree entirely with what we are doing in the Middle East -but it is very clear that the United States is engaged at the highest levels, every day, through shuttle diplomacy in trying to find a solution to this tragedy that is taking place right now.
But again, to return to the observer issue, we believe observers can make a contribution. We look forward to working with those observers that have been admitted today, and we hope that despite the setback of today we can nonetheless make progress on the rest of our agenda.
Thank you, Chair. Along similar lines, the United States’ interpretation of the Rules of Procedure of the Conference of Disarmament, specifically CD/8/Rev.10, is that only States—not members of the Conference—and I stress the word “States,” can be admitted as observers.
Because the Rules of Procedure of the Conference on Disarmament (CD/8/Rev.10) provide only for the participation of Member States—and States not members of the Conference—and given our longstanding view that the Palestinians do not qualify as a State, the United States considers the Palestinians ineligible to apply for participation in the Conference’s proceedings. I would stress that this determination is a legal one and is not connected in any way with the political views of the applicant, unlike one country’s blockage of all the members of the European Union and/or NATO, which is clearly a political choice.
The United States continues to believe that the best viable path for a durable and sustainable peace—indeed, the only path—is through a two-state solution. That’s the only guarantor of a secure, Jewish, and democratic Israel; the only guarantor of Palestinians realizing their legitimate right to live in a state of their own, enjoying equal measures of security, freedom, opportunity, and dignity; and the only way to end a cycle of violence once and for all.
To achieve this future, the Israeli and Palestinian people, as well as their leaders, must make hard choices. We do not purport to make these choices, these decisions for them. But we believe strongly that if they are willing to pursue these goals, they can help to usher in an era where Palestinians and Israelis can live side-by-side in peace.
As stated by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, “the very challenge of this moment…[has] reinforced the commitment of countries to work together to find a real resolution and one that puts us on a longer-term path to genuine peace and security…[T]here’s a path that brings Israel’s needs and desires for integration in the region and genuine security with, as well, Palestinian aspirations for a state of their own.”
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.