Conference on Disarmament Discusses New Proposal to Reflect the Equitable Participation of Women and Men in the Conference
The Conference on Disarmament today discussed a new proposal tabled by Ambassador Juan Antonio Quintanilla Román of Cuba, President of the Conference, to reflect the equitable participation of women and men in the Conference. General statements were also delivered by a number of speakers.
The President said document CD/WP.640 was a compromise and was not ideal, but it was a step in the right direction. He had tried to incorporate all of the constructive proposals that had been made, and had left out other issues that might have been a stumbling block in attaining consensus. The title had been simplified and preambular paragraph one had been amended to incorporate clearly the idea that participation and representation must be equitable between men and women in their work and that it was a guiding principle to the Conference. Operative paragraph one took the precise consensus language approved by all in the context of the United Nation General Assembly in order to solve the similar issue that they were dealing with here.
At the end of the meeting, the President said he would take on board all the suggestions and would try to seek a solution by Thursday.
Speaking in the plenary were Russian Federation, United States, Netherlands, Pakistan on behalf of the Group of 21, Nigeria, China, Pakistan, Spain, Switzerland, Chile, Sweden, Syria, France, United Kingdom, Norway, Australia, Turkey, Iran, Italy, Colombia, Venezuela, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Mexico, Germany, Algeria, Canada, India and France on behalf of the European Union.
The next plenary of the Conference will be announced by the secretariat.
Ambassador JUAN ANTONIO QUINTANILLA ROMÁN of Cuba, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said today’s plenary was aimed at examining document CD/WP.640 and delegations would be given the floor to share their formal statements on this revised proposal. Last Thursday, a productive informal consultation was held on the various options previously circulated. A number of delegations preferred a change, without suggesting how to overcome the difficulties with the issues identified. Other delegations directly rejected that option. Some delegations considered it unacceptable to open up the rules of procedure just for these proposed changes, in particular at a time when other issues of greater relevance should be considered when thinking of opening up the rules of procedure.
There were some delegations that wished to preserve the rules of procedure as they were adopted. Some delegations requested a type of decision of some order or another to reflect the principle of equal participation of men and women in the documents of the Conference. It was important not to rule out the validity of this last position. They were dealing with a simple manoeuvring that removed the Conference from the substantive issues, which they had not advanced on in the last two decades. Seeking consensus between apparently unreconcilable positions was essential and that was the responsibility of the President. The final result would depend on the political will of each of the delegations to progress and their real commitment to this issue. They must build a decision and he hoped that everybody would be pragmatic and constructive in order to reaffirm the principle of the equitable participation of men and women in the work of the Conference and that in the future any reading of the rules could be done on the basis of a shared understanding that its language was neutral and inclusive.
As they sought a consensus solution, the President had presented a second option, which would allow all to exercise flexibility collectively, attaining the aims and avoiding the stumbling blocks. A number of delegations believed option two was acceptable, others thought that it could be the basis for working alongside option one, and others believed that it was insufficient and that it was unacceptable to have any option that did not involve an explicit change to the language of the rules of procedure. Cuba’s national position agreed that the second option had limited scope and was not as wide-ranging as they would all want to see. But in multilateralism it was necessary to make sacrifices to garner solutions. As current President, he had come up with another options.
Some delegations had an a priori position that it was unacceptable to have another option that did not amend the language of the rules of procedure. This position distanced itself from the multilateralism that they wished to see and did not support the noble cause of progressing step by step in full equality between men and women. If they presented the issue in this intransigent way, it implied that they were seeing the primacy of the political and constitutional mandate of some delegations in this area. He had requested that his experts review the constitutions of countries whose delegations considered any other options to be unacceptable than to changing the existing “his” clauses. He was prepared to refer to all of the instances where those constitutions mentioned the King, the President, the Ministers, the Judges in the masculine using he or his as a pronoun and not contemplating in parallel a she in those places. Delegations could not seek and hold to account others to a standard that they had yet to attain.
The solution was to build common understanding. The President said he had tabled CD/WP.640. He knew it was a compromise and was not ideal, but it was a step in the right direction and he had tried to incorporate all of the constructive proposals that had been made, and had left out other issues that might have been a stumbling block in attaining consensus. The title had been simplified and preambular paragraph one had been amended to incorporate clearly the idea that participation and representation must be equitable between men and women in their work and that it was a guiding principle to the Conference. Preambular paragraph two and preambular paragraph three were also amended. Operative paragraph one took the precise consensus language approved by all in the context of the United Nations General Assembly in order to solve the similar issue that they were dealing with here. Operative paragraph two had been made clearer.
Mr. Quintanilla Román was emphatic that the proposal before the Conference was not perfect and was not the one he had wanted to see, but it was a step in the right direction. The most important thing was that it was built on the minimum common denominator and did not contain any controversial elements in terms of their national positions. He urged delegations to carry out a pragmatic reading of this document that reaffirmed the principle of equitable participation between men and women and noted that any future mention of the rules of procedure could be done on the basis of the understanding that this language was neutral and inclusive. The rest depending on political will and flexibility.
Russian Federation, referring to the President’s proposal, said Russia understood the striving of many delegations to establish for the practise of equal participation by women and men in the documents of the Conference and in principle it had no objection to that. However, Russia’s position was clear. It supported this being done in the simplest way that did not give rise to heated debate or objections. The Cuban proposal was a simple and elegant solution. It was not optimal and did not meet the hopes of many but hopefully it was capable of obtaining consensus. Russia was ready to join consensus on it if there was one.
Russia’s main statement was also on procedural matters. Russia had already taken the floor on this ingenious - from Russia’s point of view - application of the rules of procedure. It was unacceptable and destructive to impose on States parties national interpretations of the rules of procedure, taking out of them separate provisions and using these out of context as a separate rule and without a logical connection to the other rules. It was unacceptable and dangerous of the Conference to use generalised and poorly stipulated wordings in the provisions of the rules of procedure and manipulate them as a basis for attempts to adapt the activities of the Conference to national or narrow group interests. The same applied to the ignoring of established practices in the activities of the Conference and the distortion of the mandate of the Conference to turn it into a discussion club based on interest. This approach demonstrated by a number of delegations recently was unacceptable and was leading to a prolonged stagnation in the Conference.
While Russia thanked the secretariat for the clarifications on the provision of access to the records of the meetings of the subsidiary bodies and the status of the records, at the same time, as Russia saw it, decisions on providing access to such non-public materials must be taken by States parties of the Conference and not by the secretariat. It was unlikely that article 42 of the rules of the procedure applied here, as that rule applied only to statements of non-governmental organizations. Access to these materials could not be provided at the request of a particular State without the agreement of the other States parties. The secretariat of the Conference was not a steering body, it was an administrative, technical and subsidiary body and its function was to provide support to the Presidency and the delegations in organising the activities of the Conference. The secretariat must put forward any actions or decisions affecting the Conference for adoption by delegations, otherwise the Conference could become hostage to the staff of the secretariat.
Rule 18 of the rules of procedure was simply worded and did not give rise to free interpretation. Unfortunately, some delegations had not only been trying to give their own interpretation of the rule, but were acting in accordance with their interpretation. This behaviour could not be described as responsible. The rule of consensus was integral to the rules of procedure of the Conference, it meant a consolidated opinion of all delegations based on consensus, and this was how the activities of the Conference were organised and decisions were taken. It was mandatory to take the position of each Member State into account.
On 3 March, a number of delegations said that rule seven established the schedule of meetings. But this interpretation could not give rise to anything apart from bewilderment. Rule seven spoke not of the schedule of the meetings but about the duration of the sessions of the Conference, their division of the parts and dates. Rule 20 qualified the schedule as an independent document which required adoption and in keeping with which the meeting should be held. The schedule of meetings must be part of the programme of work of the Conference. This meant that despite the opinion of supporters of the simplified concept of the programme of work, the schedule of meetings and the programme of work were two separate documents. The schedule simply set out the regularity, the periodicity and specific dates of the meetings, not more than that.
Russia was convinced that political debates must facilitate a single understanding of one or other event or phenomenon in international life. It must facilitate the search for possible ways forward to overcome problems and it must stimulate the Conference to carry out its mandate. In recent years, they had seen a number of States using the Conference for goals not in compliance with the General Assembly resolution of 1978 on the creation of the Conference. These States had established unpleasant political discussions and had sabotaged the activities of the various Presidencies. Unfortunately for Western States, their unacceptable behaviour, which was negatively reflected in the activities of the Conference, was recorded in the official documents and the verbatim records of the Conference. The range was very broad, from hostile statements to public demonstrations of inimical attitudes to a specific State. This approach was not in line with the mandate of the Conference and the rules of procedure.
On 3 March, a distinguished colleague representing a Western regional group for some reason forgot about that and indulged in crude manipulation. Russia had objected to the holding of the session overall and not the discussion of that particular issue. The opinion of Russia as a Member State of the Conference was ignored in violation of the rules of procedure. Now, the representatives of Ukraine were presenting that meeting as a special session, against which the convening of that was also objected to by Russia. On 17 March, a number of delegations mentioned that up to then, not a single Presidency had suffered such pressure or attacks as the Colombian Presidency.
Russia said that in 2018, a number of countries hostile to Syria had actively agitated to have Damascus stripped of the right to hold the Presidency. Their position was recorded. In 2019, a similar situation arose with Venezuela, with delegations speaking out against the Venezuelan Presidency on the motive that the Maduro regime was not legitimate. They boycotted the meetings. Unlike these situations against which campaigns had been developed based on absolutely baseless political motives, the Russian complaints regarding Colombia were connected with the flagrant violation of the rules of procedure. They would see now how the representatives of the Western States would behave during the Presidency of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Also on 3 March, a number of delegations said that the President had the exclusive prerogative to convene plenary meetings without announcing the topic of the meeting or establishing the questions that would be put forward for discussion. In that connection, the secretariat had referred to a number of plenary meetings which had supposedly been held without prior announcement of the topic. Russia had verified the summary records of those meetings and the meetings prior to those and it found that in all the examples given by the secretariat, the delegations had received prior information about the meetings, either announced at the previous meeting or through the distribution of draft documents for discussion. Also, at the start of these meetings, the President had announced clarificatory announcements on the procedure of the work of the meetings and the questions being put forward in the discussion.
The President usually informed the coordinators of the regional groups of the plans for the week and the entire period of the Presidency. The coordinators in turn provided information to the Member States. The results of the studies showed that providing information on the holdings of meetings and their topics was an established practice of the Conference. This must be complied with strictly in future.
Russia retained the right to speak on other procedural issues and practical issues in subsequent meetings of the Conference on Disarmament.
Ambassador JUAN ANTONIO QUINTANILLA ROMÁN of Cuba, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said that as regards some of the points that Russia had raised, he had taken note of them and would come back to them at the next plenary.
United States said it took note with great interest of the Russian delegation’s remarks and looked forward to further discussions on considerations of the rules of procedure and what they might mean. The United States’ position, similar to the position of everyone present, was that any delegation may raise issues that it believed were pertinent to the Conference, particularly those that affected the ability of the Conference to do its work. The majority understood that this included the international security context.
On 18 May, the flag of the United States Embassy was raised again in Kyiv. The resumption of operations at the Embassy demonstrated the United States’ support for Ukraine and trust in the Ukrainian security services to keep the international diplomatic community safe. It also allowed the United States to conduct in-person engagement with the Government of Ukraine in their wide range of bilateral issues, including in support of the military, economic and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. The Embassy would continue to engage with the Ukrainian Government and others as part of its efforts to support Ukraine in its fight against the Russian aggression.
In the Byelorussian statement last week, Belarus had tried to distance itself from its complicity in Russia’s unprovoked and illegal invasion of Ukraine. The fact was that Belarus had been the staging ground for tens of thousands of Russian combat troops who had consequently attacked Ukrainian cities, killing civilians and engaging in looting and numerous other activities that were in complete violation of international humanitarian law. The United States would continue to hold Belarus account for its complicity in the Kremlin’s unconscionable war against Ukraine.
Concerning the necessary linguistic updates to the rules of procedure of the Conference, the United States appreciated the efforts of the President and thanked the Ambassadors of China and Colombia for recognising the importance of this issue. For the vast majority, operative paragraph one as circulated was not an acceptable solution. Stating that male pronouns should read as male and female was not progress. The United States supported the quick adoption of a decision with updates to the rules of procedure to be gender neutral in line with the option one text circulated previously. Unfortunately, they were all being held up by delegations who claimed to support gender equity but then opposed this simple but immensely meaningful step. The United States also believed that substantive issues were different from this issue, which should be viewed as a simple update in line with updating the name of a country. The United States looked forward to coming to an acceptable solution that could be adopted this year.
Netherlands said the President had circulated two papers last week, and now they had a new proposal. The overall majority last week spoke clearly in support for option one. Unfortunately, the new proposal was more in line with option two, which was only supported by a handful of States. The crux of the proposal for the Netherlands was to have confidence in the translation of the secretariat and to request it to update technically and linguistically the rules of procedure to reflect the equality of men and women in the Conference. Incorporating inclusive gender-neutral terms in the rules of procedure was a simple but necessary linguistic update that reflected reality and was long overdue. For many years, gender equality, women’s empowerment and diversity had been priorities in the foreign policy of the Netherlands and two weeks ago the Council of Ministers had decided to further develop a feminist foreign policy. To update the rules of procedure of the Conference to make them gender neutral was a small but crucial step.
Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Group of 21 on negative security assurances, reaffirmed that the total elimination of nuclear weapons was the only absolute guarantee against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. The Group of 21 was convinced that as long as nuclear weapons existed, the risk of their use and their proliferation persisted. Therefore, the Conference on Disarmament should start negotiations on a phased programme of the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, including a nuclear weapons convention prohibiting the position, development, production, acquisition, testing, stockpiling, transfer and use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, leading to agreement on a global, non-discriminatory and verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons, with a specified framework of time.
Pending the achievement of the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, the Group of 21 reaffirmed the urgent need to reach an early agreement on a universal, unconditional, irrevocable and legally binding instrument to effectively assure non-nuclear weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons under all circumstances at a high priority. The negative security assurances provided under a legally binding instrument should be without any conditions. Pending this, the establishment of nuclear weapon free zones was a positive step and important measure towards global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
Nigeria said concerning the gender issue, the issue of gender equity as it related to participation in the work of the Conference on Disarmament was of immense importance to Nigeria. The reinforcement of the equal reflection of women and men should be of minimum uptake for all delegations. Sadly, the adaptability of this principle had remained in contention due to perceived favouritism. Nigeria welcomed both proposals by the President to finally address this issue through the adaptation of acceptable linguistics in the rules of procedure to reflect gender equity in the work of the Conference, particularly the simple outline contained in option two. This was merely an update to the rules of procedure and was not the re-invention of the rules. This update should be reflected in all the six official languages of the Conference.
China supported the President’s CD/WP.640. As to the gender issue, this had been debated for two years. All equally agreed on the principles and practice of gender equality. Member States had repeatedly exchanged views on this issue, including in informal consultations. China, as the first President of the Conference this year, had said it did not think that more formal or informal plenaries were needed to discuss this issue, but in response to requests by delegations, had agreed to continuing informal consultations in a bid to finding a feasible solution. It had found that it was not merely though technical linguistic adjustments that the Conference could really produce gender neutral language in all the five United Nations languages, apart from the Chinese language. If they wanted to achieve general neutral language in each of the languages, they needed to adjust different aspects of the language in order to achieve this objective. For a certain language, it was impossible to achieve complete gender neutrality, from a linguistic point of view. No one was attempting to deny the gender equality principle based on the linguistic problems. Document CD/WP.640 provided the Conference with the most concise and elegant approach in solving this issue.
Ambassador JUAN ANTONIO QUINTANILLA ROMÁN of Cuba, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said they had to seek the middle ground and identify something that they could all identify with.
Pakistan, speaking about the deterioration of the international security environment and its cascading effects on regional peace, security and stability, said this had been a central element in the Conference for the past two years. At the same time, international institutions mandated to control and regulate arms remained in a state of animated suspension. Pakistan wished to draw the Conference’s attention to dangers arising from the firing of a missile from India into Pakistan on 9 March 2022. Pakistan had periodically highlighted the pattern of reckless behaviour and action by one country in the region that carried grave risks to peace and strategic stability in the nuclearized environment of south Asia. These risks were further aggravated on 9 March when an Indian supersonic missile was fired, violating Pakistani airspace, endangering the lives of passengers in commercial aircrafts and people on the ground. On 11 March, India had said this had been a technical malfunctioning leading to accidental firing of the missile. Pakistan had requested clarifications, which remained unanswered.
Spain said that when meetings were called without notice, or when topics were changed, this was typical of the Conference. Spain had come prepared to talk about the revision of the rules of procedure and technical changes to be made for gender neutral language. There was something intransigent in the attitudes of those who believed the rules of procedure were sacrosanct and could not be touched, and that procedures had to be continued with errors built in, when this was just linguistic. This attitude was difficult. In Spain the standards were adopted with a gender-neutral language whenever possible. When a minister came and took the floor, the rules of procedure should take this into account. There was no controversy and no political discussion to be had. In 2022, language should reflect gender equality and that was what should be had in the Conference.
Ambassador JUAN ANTONIO QUINTANILLA ROMÁN of Cuba, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said it was not correct that a plenary had been called on 22 March. Plenaries were called to address substantive topics which were under analysis.
Switzerland said increased participation by women for addressing international security and disarmament was an important goal. This would ensure that different points of view were taken into account, which was essential for the promotion of peace and security which lasted. Switzerland regretted that consensus could not be achieved regarding the rules of procedure to place the feminine and masculine on an equal footing. This would have been a small but important step to make women visible. Echoing other delegations, Switzerland believed that option two did not meet the expectations of many delegations, as was the case with the delegation of Switzerland. Option one presented last week was the most promising basis for progress.
Ambassador JUAN ANTONIO QUINTANILLA ROMÁN of Cuba, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said for some delegations the proposal was not sufficient, and a solution needed to be found.
Chile welcomed the bilateral and informal consultations held last week. The President’s proposal gave a satisfactory solution. Last week a reform was adopted in Chile, the call for the gender dimensions to be included in the foreign service had been requested for many years. The fact that women were admitted to the Foreign Ministry, but the names of their respective post used the masculine gender, affected equality before the law and continued to uphold gender stereotypes. The principle was recognised, but it was important to have these gestures to translate it into reality and destroy the concept of stereotypes. Chile suggested continuing consultations and was ready to work constructively with the next presidencies on this. Chile was undergoing a constitutional process, drawing up a new constitution, incorporating the gender dimension and a feminist foreign policy.
Sweden said it had had a feminist foreign policy for many years, and advancing the integration of gender perspectives across the entire spectrum of disarmament was a key priority for the country. Women had long been underrepresented in negotiated and decision-making processes. Sweden was encouraged by the increase in women’s participation in the Conference, but believed much more could be done. Ensuring the full and effective participation of women and integrating gender perspectives in all areas of nuclear disarmament was also one of the stepping stones in the Stockholm Initiative for Nuclear Disarmament. Sweden believed a welcome step would be to update the Conference’s rules of procedure to better reflect today’s reality. This was viewed as a mere technical update, and Sweden regretted that some were not in agreement of these updates. An actual technical change in the rules of procedure was required; this would be an important symbolic gesture and demonstrate to the world that the Conference was able to make a decision.
Syria said the document put forward by the Cuban Presidency constituted a compromise solution and an opportunity for the Conference on Disarmament to reach a compromise, to close the matter, and to return to concentrate on the items on its agenda which were relevant to disarmament. The Syrian delegation was aware that there were two options; to either not discuss the matter at all, or to discuss the matter, based on a solution put forward by the Canadian Presidency. Syria thanked the Cuban Presidency for the compromise solution which the delegation of Syria would fully support. Syria believed the Conference on Disarmament should not miss this opportunity, and should go back to focus on its real work. As the Cuban Presidency was aware of the importance of consensus, it had presented the document that took into consideration the position of all delegations, and did not favour one side against the other. Syria thanked the Russian Federation for raising procedural matters, and the relevant remarks on how some States applied the rules of procedure from a self-serving perspective, which had created a politicised climate. Syria reaffirmed its delegation’s full commitment to join the consensus on the document presented.
France said it fully supported Spain’s statement and the issues raised. It was agreed that women had the same rights to participate in the work of the Conference as men. This had always been the practice. It was also agreed that the rules of procedure were grammatically incorrect in a number of languages, and this was not right. Despite these points of agreements, the Conference was unable to progress and adopt a simple measure to grammatically amend the rules of procedure in the six languages. Pragmatism and simplicity consisted of correcting mistakes in the six languages. It was possible to conflate option one and option two with the way of moving forward to replace paragraph one to reflect the equality of men and women in this body. The rules of procedure had been reviewed and there were no substantive additions, just grammatical amendments. France encouraged a draft decision to be put back on the table which conflated the two options and allowed a compromise to be reached.
Ambassador JUAN ANTONIO QUINTANILLA ROMÁN of Cuba, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said the option offered by France had been explored, however, the option had presented red lines for various delegations, which was why alternative options were being explored. With paragraph one of option one, this would be giving the secretariat the power to amend the procedure. Was this what the States wanted?
United Kingdom rejected the accusation by the Russian Federation of the manipulation of the rules of procedure. On the new proposal by the President, the United Kingdom would prefer a decision to render the language neutral and inclusive, rather than one which pretended it was, when it clearly was not. The objections raised regarding the technical amendment remained unclear. The draft decision should be an interim measure, pending a proper review of procedure. It was a matter of regret to the United Kingdom that this administrative issue was now a decisive issue, which was not the aim behind the original proposal.
Ambassador JUAN ANTONIO QUINTANILLA ROMÁN of Cuba, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said this should be a question which united the Conference, rather than dividing it. The proposal was seen as a first step, and the Conference was flexible.
Norway said that the rules of procedure currently used male pronouns to refer to women, which was not in keeping with modern times and should be amended. The Conference had deliberated on this issue for two years – the time had come to just do it. With only minute technical corrections, there would be significant symbolic gain. Women would no longer have to base their inclusion on a strained interpretation of the male pronoun “him”, but rather be included in their own rights. Norway appreciated the spirit of the President’s proposal, but thought it risked undermining what was being strived to be achieved. Norway did not see the proposed option had added value. Norway suggested that the first option should be the basis for the decision; the wording of the rules of procedure themselves should be changed. This would entail the rules of procedure of the Conference on Disarmament updated technically and linguistically, to reflect both men and women in the body.
Australia said gender equality was a key value and top foreign policy priority for Australia. Australia had looked closely at the two proposals presented and did not consider that the latest document represented progress on this issue. Australia thought better could be done in 2022. The participation of women in the work of the Conference on Disarmament should not just be accepted as a matter of practice, but should be welcomed as a matter of principle. The only way to do this was to implement the necessary technical and linguistic changes to the rules of procedure themselves. Such an update to the rules would send an important message regarding the Conference’s approach to inclusion and diversity. It remained unclear to Australia what the impediments to making this decision were. Australia put forward a proposal which combined the option one and two proposals. Under this decision, it would be the Conference that would be updating the rules; the secretariat would be tasked with implementing this technically and linguistically. Australia recommended an amendment to the operative paragraph with new language, which included reference to female persons where there were mentions of a male. As the sole permanent multilateral leadership body, the Conference had a leadership role to play on gender equality and women’s participation; it was time to show leadership on this issue which reflected the world as it was in 2022.
Turkey supported the technical change in the rules of procedure which reflected the equality between women and men. The draft decision provided a minimum common ground to reach consensus. The agreed language used in the General Assembly could be a pragmatic way forward. Turkey had been constructively engaging in the activities of the Conference and would continue to do so.
Iran said the proposal put forward by the President was an elegant option which maintained a delicate balance between different positions. Iran asked who had created the lack of trust and confidence in the Conference over the past few years? Iran asked delegations if it was not a priority for them to update their own laws, but rather to update their foreign policy. It was regrettable that rather than focusing on its own agenda, and nuclear disarmament, so much time and resources of the Conference had been spent on this issue. The equal participation of men and women within the Conference had never been a problem. Consensus was vital and Iran was ready to support the proposed decision submitted by the President. The proposal presented a comprise solution through a pragmatic approach.
Ambassador JUAN ANTONIO QUINTANILLA ROMÁN of Cuba, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said that since the start of the Cuban Presidency, there had been meetings with regional and other groups committed to overcoming the deadlock.
Italy was convinced that a well-functioning Conference on Disarmament also included adequate representation of women. Italy hoped that an agreement could be reached on what was just a quick linguistic correction. Italy was interested on working on a text which could serve as an interim measure. If there was scope for this, the text could be worked on and circulated, with a decision reached on Thursday. The proposal submitted by the President was difficult for Italy to accept; there was room to improve the text which was being proposed. Italy disagreed with the notion that the proposal was elegant, saying that a one-fits-all solution looked anything but elegant.
Ambassador JUAN ANTONIO QUINTANILLA ROMÁN of Cuba, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said he would strive to put forward a basis for delegations to consider by Thursday.
United States subscribed to the idea that this should not be an issue which divided the Conference. What was being asked was to reflect the fact that women and men held positions in the Conference on Disarmament, and not to confine half of the world’s population to an explanatory note; it was simple. The United States wished to clarify if the concerns surrounding the updating of the language were technical, or whether it was the idea of making the language gender neutral; or whether it was an objection to making any change to the rules of procedure, no matter how controversial or minor those changes might be. It was important to know what the concerns were to move forward.
Columbia said it was regrettable that agreement could not be achieved on something as simple as a linguistic issue. If the minimum continued to be sought, then opportunities would be lost. Columbia supported the language proposed by Australia, which constructively sought to unite the proposals sought by the Presidency.
Venezuela welcomed the presentation of the document, circulated yesterday, which sought to reflect the equal participation of men and women in the Conference. It was important to move forward to an agreement which reflected practice in the Conference on the equal participation of women and men. Venezuela supported gender equality and promoted gender quality, equity, and the empowerment of women. All members of the Conference participated on an equal footing. Venezuela welcomed the efforts by the Cuban Presidency with the presentation of the document for consideration by the Conference. Venezuela reiterated the rules in the Spanish language which needed to be reviewed. Venezuela fully supported the solution presented by the Cuban Presidency, calling it a pragmatic and convenient solution, which sought to reflect practice in the Conference on the equal participation of men and women in its work.
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea commended the Cuban President on his proposal, which was flexible and a compromise. Although the working paper was not a perfect solution, it was a means of avoiding a long and heated debate. The delegation called on all Member States to show flexibility to adopt the document as soon as possible, and return to substantial work.
Mexico had a strong desire to address the issue and incorporate gender neutral language in the rules of procedure. Mexico was not satisfied with the gender neutrality stated in certain documents. Many States did not note the exceptionality of the Conference and this exceptionalism should not be an obstacle to achieving these texts. There should not be masculine bias in these texts. Gender neutrality had been achieved in certain United Nations documents in the six official languages. Mexico did not believe that the General Assembly was the only possible example and noted the proposal by Australia, and would be pleased to give this further consideration. It was fundamental that topics of the Conference were clarified to give greater viability to the sessions.
Ambassador JUAN ANTONIO QUINTANILLA ROMÁN of Cuba, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said that other bodies could be looked at regarding the rules of procedure.
Germany said it had a feminist foreign policy, and therefore the new proposal was not sufficient. The Conference needed to agree and find itself at the height of the time in 2022, when women played a key role in disarmament. The proposal made by Australia was interesting and could be an opportunity for true compromise. Germany welcomed further consultations taking the proposal into consideration.
Algeria expressed support for all efforts which could allow the rules of procedure to be updated linguistically and technically, and bring in line equality between men and women in all work. Algeria was fully prepared to participate in a constructive manner to reach a consensus to bring about the expectations of all delegations.
Canada said that the Conference on Disarmament could do better than what was currently presented. The questions asked by the United States were pertinent. Canada believed it was the wrong message to enshrine the male dominated language and then to imagine that women were included. Canada agreed with the challenges of amending constitutions, and leant support to the proposal made by France and Australia to combine options one and two.
Ambassador JUAN ANTONIO QUINTANILLA ROMÁN of Cuba, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said by his count, 10 delegations, including Cuba, had said they could adopt the draft decision, and 14 said they could not. A lot of other delegations had not taken a position. Cuba was very open to any consultation and meeting to move things forward.
India said that the delegation preferred progressive language in legislation. Responding to the statement by Pakistan, India said it was a democracy and the incident referred to was regretted, with an inquiry being conducted. A review of relevant procedures was also being conducted.
Spain refuted the President’s remarks that the comments Spain had made were false. Spain said what it said was not false. The announcement concerning the 22 March plenary under the Presidency of Cuba had contained no theme or subject for debate and Spain read out the announcement for the meeting.
Ambassador JUAN ANTONIO QUINTANILLA ROMÁN of Cuba, President of the Conference on Disarmament, read out another announcement of the meeting of 22 March, saying that the First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba would address the Conference as part of the high-level segment. It was an inauguration of the opening of the Cuban Presidency and listening to a high-level dignitary. Then on 31 March, the theme was to support the substantive work of the subsidiary bodies. Last week, on 19 May, the theme of the plenary was to improve the operations and substantive work of the Conference. Cuba had clearly indicated each time the theme and aim before the plenary. Before the Cuban Presidency began, meetings were called without specific issues, and no delegation had expressed opposition to this.
France, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the European Union expressed its full support for the technical change of the language of the rules of procedure of the Conference. The European Union was of the view that the simple technical update reflected the reality of the Conference, and its functioning today. The language in the current proposal should only be considered as an interim step. The proposal offered by Australia was a possible elegant step forward.
Ambassador JUAN ANTONIO QUINTANILLA ROMÁN of Cuba, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said he would take on board the suggestions and try and seek a solution by Thursday.