Conference on Disarmament Hears Statements by Three New Permanent Representatives of Italy, Mongolia and Belarus, as well as General Statements from Tunisia, Chile, Germany and Austria
The Conference on Disarmament today held the first public plenary of the second part of its 2022 session, hearing statements by three new Permanent Representatives of Italy, Mongolia and Belarus, as well as general statements by Tunisia, Chile, Germany and Austria.
Ambassador Juan Antonio Quintanilla Roman of Cuba, President of the Conference on Disarmament, welcomed the new Permanent Representative of Italy to the Conference on Disarmament and the new Permanent Representatives of Mongolia and Belarus to the United Nations Office at Geneva, as well as Carolyne Melanie Regimbal, the new Chief of Service of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs in Geneva and Under-Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament.
The Conference also held an informal meeting on two non-papers that had been circulated on the rules of procedure.
Today’s meeting is the first public plenary of the second part of the Conference on Disarmament’s 2022 session, which will be held from 16 May to 1 July.
The next plenary of the Conference on Disarmament will be announced by the secretariat.
Statements by New Permanent Representatives
Leonardo Bencini, Permanent Representative of Italy to the Conference on Disarmament, said the current international security landscape was deeply worrying and tensions and geo-political rivalries were increasing all around the world. Italy condemned in the strongest possible terms Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked aggression against Ukraine in violation of international law and humanitarian principles. Italy stood firmly in support of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and called on Russia to immediately cease hostilities. It was time to double efforts to promote meaningful dialogue and negotiations with a view to a shared and sustainable solution to this conflict and to any other conflict that compromised international peace and security.
Under these circumstances, a revival of the Conference on Disarmament was needed and urgent as disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control played a crucial role in the security landscape. The Conference was an indispensable and unique body and the toolbox of the disarmament community, even though its potential remained unfulfilled. It would be difficult to make progress by going backwards to old approaches. Instead, the Conference’s work needed to adapt to new circumstances to recognise the new layers of risk. The ongoing work of the subsidiary bodies was a sign of good will and a positive step in the right direction.
Italy would be participating in the tenth Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; this treaty remained the cornerstone of the global non-proliferation regime. An important step that concerned the Conference should be the immediate beginning of negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material. Pending the conclusion of such a treaty, all concerned States should abide by a moratorium. Concerning the prevention of an arms race in outer space, norms, rules and principle of responsible behaviours should be elaborated and put in place in order to promote security, safety and sustainability in outer space. The adoption of voluntary measures and commitments of a non-legally binding nature could be an important intermediate step in maximising the chances of a successful outcome of future negotiations for a binding treaty.
Concluding, Mr. Bencini said the international community could not afford the price of a stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament anymore as it still had a crucial role to play. A collective renewed commitment to strengthen the Conference and guarantee its proper functioning was needed, in order to avoid entering the path of a new arms race in any domain. Italy hoped the Conference could reach agreement on a technical update of the rules of procedure to reflect the equality of women and men, as this should be just a quick linguistic correction.
GERELMAA DAVAASUREN , Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said Mongolia continued to attach great importance to the Conference on Disarmament as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum mandated by the First Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly devoted to disarmament. It was regrettable that the Conference had not fulfilled its mandate over the past 20 years. Mongolia welcomed the adoption of decision 2229, which established subsidiary bodies enabling the Conference on Disarmament to engage in constructive discussions. It provided the best available alternative under the current circumstances as the Conference must advance technical discussions until the adoption of its work programme.
Nuclear disarmament remained Mongolia’s highest priority. Pending the achievement of this ultimate goal, the conclusion of a universal, unconditional, and legally binding instrument on negative security assurances remained as a matter of urgent priority. Mongolia also recognised that progress could be made on issues such as fissile materials and the prevention of an arms race in outer space.
On the membership of the Conference, Ms. Davaasuren said Mongolia spoke for its expansion. Mongolia was open to the proposal to make the rules of the Conference gender neutral. This year marked the thirtieth anniversary of Mongolia's nuclear-weapon-free status. Mongolia had continued its efforts to institutionalise its status and secure appropriate assurances from nuclear weapon States.
Larysa Belskaya, Permanent Representative of Belarus to the United Nations Office at Geneva, assessing the situation in international security and disarmament, noted with regret that they had seen growing contradictions in the last few decades. The absence of any significant outcomes of the work of the Conference on Disarmament based on collective commitments was one of the troubling indicators of the world. Belarus’ President, speaking in May, said Belarus was ready to bolster comprehensive indivisible security respecting the security of its neighbours, underlining that the interests of Belarus must also be addressed. Ignoring the legitimate interests of other States, the aspirations for global hegemony, together with blocking dialogue on pressing regional security and disarmament issues, had had truly devastating consequences today. The more there was the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the more of its military infrastructure in Europe, including on Belarus’ borders, the more they thought there would be more security. This logic was detrimental, while ignoring the genuine balance of forces and interests of States that were not members of the alliance.
The current situation in Ukraine had become a consequence of such approaches. The genuine reasons behind the conflict were ignored and all the blame was placed exclusively on Moscow and Minsk, which was being accused of being an accomplice to the conflict. The fact that Belarus’ army was not fighting was ignored. Belarus was a peaceful State. The sanctions launched by Western States and increasing arms supplies to conflict zones were not the path to peace. Belarus urged the Conference to reduce the level of global confrontation and make closer the prospect of a comprehensive settlement both in Ukraine and other hotspots around the world.
Tunisia said the current environment at the global level, with the political, economic, social and health challenges involved, should not make them forget the progress made in the field of disarmament this year. This must be held on to and built on in order to achieve tangible results that served the aspirations of the international community and the peoples of the world in non-proliferation and disarmament. These included the agreement reached on holding the tenth Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in New York next August and progress in preparation for the first meeting of States parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Vienna from 21 to 23 June 2022. There was also the participation of non-Member States in the work of the Conference as observers. The creation of subsidiary bodies in the Conference and the launch of the work of the coordinators of these bodies was also noted.
Tunisia this year was elected as a member of the African Union Peace and Security Council for the period 2022 to 2024. This was the permanent body for African decision-making in preventing, managing and resolving conflicts. The continued presence and development of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery in the Middle East led to increased tensions as well as lack of trust and increasing instigation to violence. This was a great threat to security and stability in the Middle East. The creation of a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction was more urgent than ever in order to consolidate peace and security as well as stability on a regional and international level. At the same time, Tunisia underlined the inalienable right to peaceful use of nuclear, radiological, chemical and biological technology and the need to increase technical cooperation in this field for the sake of sustainable development.
Ambassador JUAN ANTONIO QUINTANILLA ROMAN of Cuba, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said that the Conference would now move to informal format and the plenary would be suspended to allow everyone to have an open, transparent and inclusive discussion on the two non-papers that had been circulated. They had to see whether it would be appropriate to table a formal document on this.
The President then resumed the meeting after what he called a very productive informal consultation. Chile wanted to introduce a topic which had to do with this afternoon’s subsidiary body.
Chile said that in order to allow Chile’s new Ambassador to take over the responsibilities as coordinator of subsidiary body three, the second session of the subsidiary body, scheduled for this afternoon, would be postponed. The subsidiary body would now meet on 7 June, 10 June and 23 June.
Germany read out the statement of the G7 Foreign Ministers from 14 May, in which they expressed their steadfast solidarity with and their support for Ukraine as it defended itself against Russia’s unjustifiable, unprovoked and illegal war of aggression, a war in which Belarus was complicit. The G7 countries were committed to help Ukraine uphold its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to defend itself and resist future attacks or coercion. They were providing significant humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and its neighbours to meet urgent protection and other lifesaving needs. The G7 countries continued to make substantial financial and economic support available to Ukraine to strengthen the resilience of its economy. The G7 Foreign Ministers’ statement reiterated their demand that Russia put an end to the unprovoked war it started and to end the tragic suffering and loss of life it continued to cause. They also continue to call on Belarus to stop enabling Russia’s aggression and to abide by its international obligations.
Austria informed the Conference about the 2022 Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, which would take place on 20 June in Vienna. The aim of the Conference was to further develop the focus of the international community on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and the risks associated with these weapons. Austria was organising this expert-level conference with the aim of refocusing the international nuclear weapons discourse as a means to underscore the imperative of prevention.
Russia asked to defer its statement to the next meeting due to the lack of time.
Ambassador JUAN ANTONIO QUINTANILLA ROMAN of Cuba, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said Russia would be the first speaker in the plenary on Tuesday, 24 May.
United States also asked to defer its statement to the next meeting.
Ambassador JUAN ANTONIO QUINTANILLA ROMAN of Cuba, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said the United States would be the second speaker at the next plenary. The next plenary would be on officially announced by the secretariat.
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