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Conference on Disarmament Discusses Status of Draft Reports of the Subsidiary Bodies in the Final Plenary under the Presidency of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Meeting Summaries

 

In the final plenary under the Presidency of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Conference on Disarmament discussed the status of the draft reports of its five subsidiary bodies.

 

Ambassador Tae Song Han of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said he appreciated the skilful leadership of all the coordinators of the subsidiary bodies. Last week, the final segment of work of these subsidiary bodies, which was to agree on their draft reports, had begun. However, both subsidiary body one and subsidiary body two could not finish considering their draft reports due to time constraints. The other three subsidiary bodies had not yet held their fourth meeting. He welcomed the willingness of the coordinators to continue work on pending paragraphs and make necessary amendments, based on comments by Member States, for possible agreement. He encouraged the coordinators to consult Member States in whatever format they found appropriate in order to finalise and reach consensus on the texts before presenting them to the plenary.

In the discussion, several States highlighted the importance of reflecting the opinions of the Group of 21, the largest cross-regional group in the Conference, in the draft reports, and ensuring that all views contained in the reports were included. One State recommended that coordinators dedicate an additional two weeks to reach an understanding. A number of States agreed that the 2018 model should be used in proceeding with the draft reports of the subsidiary bodies.

Ambassador Paul Empole Efambe of the Democratic People’s Republic of the Congo, the next President of the Conference on Disarmament, thanked President Han and congratulated him for the excellent way in which he had carried out his presidency. Mr. Empole Efambe said he would continue to focus on the substantive work of the Conference. His priority was to finalise and adopt the reports of the subsidiary bodies by the Conference on Disarmament plenary. Mr. Empole Efambe noted that the role of the President of the Conference was not easy, adding that he would spare no effort to frequently consult with delegations in order to collect views and move ahead.

In concluding remarks, Ambassador Han said that he would be glad if the presidency of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had somewhat contributed to the work of the Conference. He assured his delegation’s full support and cooperation and would remain fully committed to the work of the Conference this year.

The following countries took the floor: Nigeria on behalf of the Group of 21, Russia, Syria, China, Cuba, Nigeria, Pakistan, Venezuela, Iran and Germany.

The secretariat will announce when the Conference’s next public plenary will be.

Statements

Ambassador TAE SONG HAN of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, President of the Conference on Disarmament, noted that this was the last plenary under the presidency of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and said he appreciated the skilful leadership of all the coordinators of the subsidiary bodies. Last week, the final segment of work of these subsidiary bodies, which was to agree on their draft reports, had begun. However, both subsidiary body one and subsidiary body two could not finish considering their draft reports due to time constraints. The other three subsidiary bodies had not yet held their fourth meeting. He welcomed the willingness of the coordinators to continue work on pending paragraphs and make necessary amendments, based on comments by Member States, for possible agreement.

In 2018, subsidiary bodies could not reach agreement on their reports and coordinators had continued working on the draft reports through bilateral consultations or informal meetings. He encouraged the coordinators to consult with Member States in whatever format they found appropriate in order to finalise and reach consensus on the texts before presenting them to the plenary. If Member States suggested other more effective modalities, the President was ready to listen to them.

Nigeria , speaking on behalf of the Group of 21 (G-21), said the G-21 wished to emphasise the importance of reflecting all positions in the draft reports of the subsidiary bodies. The G-21 regretted that some delegations believed certain views did not need to be reflected in the final reports; such parties were urged to reconsider their remarks. The opinion of the majority of the States must be reflected in the reports in order to ensure the work of the subsidiary bodies was carried out in a concrete and balanced manner.

Ambassador TAE SONG HAN of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said the Group of 21 was the biggest cross-regional group in the Conference, and their position should be reflected in the draft report.

Russia thanked the coordinators for their reports, adding that it was positive that foundations remained for further work. Russia intended to work towards the successful conclusion of the subsidiary bodies, which included the completion of the draft reports. The most important factor was to come to a consensus on the drafts, and prepare balanced and inclusive documents which could be used in the further work of the Conference. Russia urged the coordinators not to suspend work on the reports, and to dedicate an additional two weeks in order to reach an understanding. Russia was hoped that an agreement on most of the drafts could be reached in order to conclude the Conference on a positive note.

Syria congratulated the President on the way the work had been steered during the session. It was important to make sure the opinions of the Group of 21 (G-21) were represented in all reports. Many members of the G-21 had not made any individual statements during the meetings of the subsidiary bodies, as their opinion was included in the general G-21 position. Syria fully supported the plan which the President had outlined.

China fully agreed with the President concerning the next step of the Conference’s work. China supported the position of the Group of 21 and believed that the coordinators of the subsidiary bodies needed to continue facilitating the adoption of the reports. All views needed to be presented, even if they differed. China would continue to support the work of the President and the coordinators of the subsidiary bodies.

Ambassador TAE SONG HAN of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said that the mandate of coordinators was very important and they should continue to work on finalising the draft reports.

Cuba said that the Group of 21 (G-21) represented a cross-regional group representing the most range of interests in the field of disarmament. When the G-21 spoke, it was making a point, which should not be ignored simply because none of the major military powers were members of that group. It also represented the best possible consensus that could be achieved in the Conference. Cuba was not a fan of the creation of subsidiary bodies, and believed that if they did not tread carefully in the way that the subsidiary bodies worked, this would only serve to further undermine the work of the Conference. It was unacceptable that some coordinators were working inclusively, while others were simply trying to impose their criteria and their wishes and present the work of the subsidiary bodies reflecting simply their desires.

In an informal meeting, the coordinator of subsidiary body two said a draft report would be presented, and that was submitted setting aside the comments and views that had been aired during that actual meeting. Cuba hoped the second version of the report would include the views of the G-21. Cuba would not give its backing to the adoption of the report, as it did not agree with the silence or no objection procedure. Reports needed to be inclusive to ensure a positive outcome. Cuba thanked the President for his excellent work in the Conference on Disarmament.

Nigeria thanked the President for his work. Nigeria highlighted that throughout the work of the subsidiary bodies, several statements had been made, which aimed to ensure the reflection of views from all delegations. The views of regional groups needed to be taken into account when drafting reports. Nigeria encouraged coordinators to take this approach and hoped the 2022 session of the Conference would be associated with concrete outcomes.

Pakistan said the Conference had achieved a breakthrough earlier in the year with the decision to establish subsidiary bodies. Trust and inclusivity, understanding of concerns, and a balanced approach were the key ingredients which led to this. The Conference was at an important juncture with the near completion of the work of the five subsidiary bodies. Pakistan supported the notion of trying to finish the work of the subsidiary bodies as soon as possible. Each subsidiary body belonged to all Conference members, and all members had a right to have their concerns addressed. Pakistan said it was disconcerting to see the exercise of arbitrary actions, and strongly advised against them. The role of any coordinator was to steer work in an impartial manner. It was necessary for the Conference to demonstrate flexibility, and for coordinators to take on the view of all delegations when drafting reports.

Venezuela said the views of the Group of 21 (G-21) were the fruits of seeking points of conversion. It was an excellent illustration of diplomacy. It was important that this was reflected in the work of the subsidiary bodies. Venezuela supported the work of the President of the Conference and subsidiary bodies in a constructive spirit.

United States said that the delegation looked forward to continue finding agreed texts in all five subsidiary body reports and thanked the coordinators for their hard work. The understanding of the United States was that the plan for subsidiary bodies one and two was to continue via a written procedure. If this was not the case, it was not clear on how to find consensus on those reports. It was important to know what to expect moving forward.

Iran said Group of 21 (G-21) was the biggest cross-regional group and its members made up the majority of the Conference members, and it was necessary that its position be reflected in the reports of the subsidiary bodies. Iran had engaged positively with all subsidiary body coordinators, and would continue to do so. The subsidiary bodies should refrain from imposing their views on the Conference, and should work in an inclusive manner, taking on board the views of all delegations. Iran encouraged all subsidiary bodies to continue their work to finalise the reports.

Germany agreed that it would be best to seek the guidance of those present in 2018. Germany noted that the position of every delegation was equally important. Germany highlighted that there was big support in the Conference on making the rules of procedure gender neutral.

Cuba supported that the rules of procedure should be modified to become gender neutral, and be updated to allow more States to join the Conference. Cuba said that not every point in subsidiary body two had to be a consensus. There was a discrepancy in the attitude employed toward the Group of 21 (G-21) which was not helpful. To omit points made by some, but leave in points which were flagged by a few delegations was an imbalance. What happened in 2018 was a good model to use as a basis. Those delegations that could not express their views could send them in writing, so that they could be included in the report. There was flexibility to convene additional meetings. There were many ways to continue working, but the lack of political will was holding them back.

The Secretariat said that in 2018, discussions on the draft texts were conducted chiefly in informal sessions with interested Member States. In one case, a subsidiary body was unable to agree on the text of the report, and eventually the Conference was able to adopt it following an informal plenary.

Ambassador TAE SONG HAN of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said the coordinators should have a similar approach in leading the subsidiary bodies and impartiality was important. Most delegations were agreeable to the 2018 model in proceeding with the ongoing work of the Conference. To have objective, inclusive and balanced draft reports, they should reflect the positions of regional groups and Member States. The experience of subsidiary bodies in 2018 and this year, showed that more time should be allocated to drafting reports. The role of the coordinators should be further clarified in the future to ensure they were aware of their responsibilities.

Ambassador PAUL EMPOLE EFAMBE of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the next President of the Conference on Disarmament, thanked President Han and congratulated him for the excellent way in which he had carried out his presidency. Mr. Empole Efambe said he would continue to focus on the substantive work of the Conference. His priority was to finalise and adopt the reports of the subsidiary bodies by the Conference on Disarmament plenary. Mr. Empole Efambe assured the coordinators that he was available to work closely until the reports were completed. He would be regularly consulting the P6+2 and had requested consultations with this group and the coordinators of the subsidiary bodies. Formal meetings on general disarmament issues would also be called. Mr. Empole Efambe noted that the role of President of the Conference was not easy, and said he would spare no effort to frequently consult with delegations.

Concluding Remarks

Ambassador TAE SONG HAN of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, President of the Conference on Disarmament, in concluding remarks, said that he would be glad if the presidency of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had somewhat contributed to the work of the Conference. President Han expressed gratitude to the Conference for the cooperation and engagement he had experienced and expressed his best wishes to the incoming President. President Han assured his delegation’s full support and cooperation and would remain fully committed to the work of the Conference this year.

 

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