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Conference on Disarmament Holds First Public Plenary under the Presidency of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Hears Update from the Coordinators of its Subsidiary Bodies on their Final Reports

Meeting Summaries

 

The Conference on Disarmament today held its first public plenary under the Presidency of Ambassador Paul Empole Efambe of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, hearing an update from the coordinators of its subsidiary bodies on their final reports.

The President announced his plan to prioritise the work of the Conference’s subsidiary bodies, the reports of which would be presented by the coordinators of the bodies in the first plenary held in August. He also said he would hold a plenary focusing on cyber security in August.

Mallory Stewart, United States Assistant Secretary for the Department of State’s Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, said the Conference offered a forum for working together to address complex global challenges through dialogue and concerted action. The discussions in the five subsidiary bodies were wrapping up this week and while there was certainly a divergence of views, the United States understood and appreciated the desire to advance nuclear disarmament goals. It would pursue practical steps aimed at advancing the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. The United States was ready to work with all countries on risk reduction measures to achieve a world less reliant on nuclear weapons.

During the plenary, the coordinators of the five subsidiary bodies presented updates on progress made on preparing reports, and several States discussed methods of continuing discussions within subsidiary bodies to achieve consensus on those reports. Several speakers expressed their support for the Democratic Republic of the Congo presidency, and their thanks for the work and contribution of the outgoing Permanent Representative of France to the Conference on Disarmament, Yann Hwang.

The following countries spoke in the meeting: France, Germany, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Chile, Algeria, Indonesia, Belarus, Spain, Pakistan, Cuba, Republic of Korea, China, Netherlands, Bulgaria, Russian Federation, Iran and United States.

The secretariat will announce when the Conference’s next public plenary will be held. The second part of the 2022 session of the Conference on Disarmament will conclude on 1 July, and the third part of the session will take place from 1 August to 16 September.

Statements

Ambassador PAUL EMPOLE EFAMBE of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, President of the Conference on Disarmament, thanked and congratulated the Permanent Representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to the United Nations Office at Geneva for the excellent work done during his presidency, and all the other Presidents of the Conference this year.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo had been a member of the Conference since its creation in 1979 and was assuming the presidency for the second time. The State pursued a committed policy on conventional arms control, as well as on other disarmament and non-proliferation issues. Anti-personnel mines, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, improvised explosive devices and other conventional weapons remained a major concern for the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Certain armed groups, both foreign and national, were forming and disintegrating according to the interests and networks of those who supported them. Arms sales to these groups had become a lucrative business with multi-level complicity both inside and outside the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Fortunately, with the political, diplomatic and military action of the President of the Republic and of the Government, these mafia networks were increasingly being defeated, dismantled and denounced throughout the world.

Existing and emerging threats from the malicious use of information technology and telecommunications were a real concern for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Developing countries were the most vulnerable in the field of cyberspace and were in dire need of capacity building. The Democratic Republic of the Congo thus planned to convene a formal plenary meeting next August to discuss cyber security issues.

The Democratic Republic of Congo had acceded to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the Treaty of Pelindaba, making Africa a nuclear weapon free zone, and had signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on 20 September 2017. The implementation of disarmament commitments made it possible to allocate more resources to sustainable development as well as to international cooperation and preventive efforts to address humanitarian and health emergencies.

The President said he would give priority in his mandate and actions to the work of the subsidiary bodies and to their reports to be submitted to the Council. To date, no report had reached consensus at the subsidiary body level. The President would work closely with the coordinators of the subsidiary bodies to ensure that they completed their mandates. He encouraged all Member States to participate actively and constructively in the discussions at the subsidiary body level, in particular by forwarding their proposed amendments to the coordinators as soon as possible.

Mr. Empole Efambe pledged to consult with States regularly at the bilateral or multilateral levels to move forward with the Conference’s work agenda. He called for Member States’ support in this regard. At the plenary to be held in the first week of August, the coordinators of the subsidiary bodies would present their reports and make statements on how to achieve further progress on their mandates.

MALLORY STEWART, United States Assistant Secretary for the Department of State’s Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, pledged her full cooperation with the Democratic Republic of the Congo presidency, and thanked the outgoing Permanent Representative of France to the Conference on Disarmament for his work.

The Conference and its predecessor bodies had made remarkable achievements.

However, the international security environment had deteriorated and there was a need to commit to a new era of relentless diplomacy. Four months into the Ukraine war, Russia continued to bombard cities across Ukraine and commit terrible acts of violence. As a result, European security was challenged more than at any time since World War II. Russia’s use of the nuclear shadow was also concerning. The United States urged Russia to cease its brutal invasion immediately and completely withdraw its military forces and equipment from the internationally recognised borders of Ukraine.

The Conference offered a forum for working together to address complex global challenges through dialogue and concerted action. The discussions in the five subsidiary bodies were wrapping up this week and while there was certainly a divergence of views, the United States understood and appreciated the desire to advance nuclear disarmament goals. It would pursue practical steps aimed at advancing the goal of a world without nuclear weapons.

A Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty remained an essential step toward achieving the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. The Conference needed to establish next year the Ad Hoc Committee agreed to in 1995 to negotiate a non-discriminatory, multilateral, and internationally and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.

There was a need to develop national security space-related norms of responsible behaviour. On 15 November 2021, the Russian Federation conducted a dangerous and irresponsible anti-satellite missile test which created a cloud of debris that would endanger satellites, other space objects, and human space flight for years to come. Following this, on 18 April, the United States committed to not conducting destructive direct-ascent anti-satellite missile testing. It called on all States to make a similar commitment. In this regard, it welcomed the work being undertaken in subsidiary body two on outer space and in the Open-Ended Working Group on Reducing Space Threats.

This month, the United States announced its intent to sign the Irish-led Political Declaration on Strengthening the Protection of Civilians from the Humanitarian Consequences Arising from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas, and it encouraged other States to endorse the declaration. The United States had also completed its 2022 Nuclear Posture Review. This review examined steps to reduce the role of nuclear weapons and the risk of nuclear war. As of September 2020, the United States’ stockpile of nuclear weapons was at its lowest point since 1967, at 3,750 warheads.

The United States was using unilateral and multilateral measures to prevent arms races and stop the spread of nuclear weapons. The United States called on States to support the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and work to achieve its entry into force. It also aimed to encourage States to reaffirm their commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty at the upcoming Review Conference in August. At this conference, States parties also needed to respond to Russia brandishing its nuclear weapons and spreading disinformation about possible use of weapons of mass destruction.

The United States was ready to work with all countries on risk reduction measures to achieve a world less reliant on nuclear weapons.

YANN HWANG, Permanent Representative of France to the Conference on Disarmament, said that this was his last time participating in the Conference. Through his four years of participating in the Conference, he had felt that multilateralism was the only solution to achieving a better world. The sound of weapons was being heard tragically and daily a few hundred kilometres from Geneva, and the Conference needed to look for solutions to stop this.

Disarmament was an essential step to achieving peace. It was time for the Conference to stop and assess why it was no longer able to agree to launch major negotiations on disarmament treaties. The debate had been bogged down in recent years by political posturing. Debates in the Conference seemed to ignore the ever-escalating arms race too often.

The United Nations had refused to permit the continued scaling up of the arms race in 1945, and had sought to negotiate realistic treaties to prevent this. It was necessary to return to working on negotiating such treaties to revive the hope of legally regulating the arms race. Important work had been launched on the issue of responsible behaviour in outer space, on the development of biotechnology, on autonomy in weapons systems and on cybersecurity. This work would lead to new agreements for peace and security.

Mr. Hwang said that he had put his energy and conviction toward achieving disarmament. France aimed to propose relevant solutions based on law and on the need to build universal trust. He expressed hope that the future generation put all their energy and courage to advance the cause of the Conference.

Democratic People's Republic of Korea warmly congratulated the Democratic Republic of the Congo on assuming the presidency, and expressed its full support to its work plan.

Germany expressed congratulations to the Democratic Republic of the Congo on assuming the presidency, and thanked the coordinators of the subsidiary bodies for their excellent work. It was sad that the Conference would no longer be able to work with Yaan Hwang, Permanent Representative of France to the Conference on Disarmament. Germany thanked him for his work over four years and expressed its continued support for the delegation of France.

PAMELA MORAGA, First Secretary of Chile at the Permanent Mission of Chile to the United Nations Office at Geneva and coordinator of subsidiary body three on the prevention of an arms race in outer space, said that the work of the subsidiary bodies did not end after the end of the second session of the Conference of this year. Ms. Moraga thanked delegations for their constructive contributions to the draft report for the subsidiary body that Chile coordinated. She also thanked Yann Hwang, Permanent Representative of France to the Conference on Disarmament, for his work and guidance.

LAZHAR SOUALEM, Permanent Representative of Algeria to the United Nations Office at Geneva and coordinator of subsidiary body one on the cessation of the arms race and nuclear disarmament, warmly congratulated the Democratic Republic of the Congo for assuming the presidency and expressed Algeria’s full support. Mr. Soualem said that he was inspired by the constructive and positive approach of States to subsidiary body one. This work would help to ensure that the Conference moved forward. The draft report of this subsidiary body had been developed with the active participation of States. A revised version of the report that incorporated proposed revisions from States was being prepared and would be circulated soon. Informal consultations would be held to achieve consensus on the report. Algeria praised the commitment of Ambassador Hwang and wished him well in his future work.

FEBRIAN RUDDYARD, Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the United Nations Office at Geneva and coordinator of subsidiary body four on effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons , wished the presidency of the Democratic Republic of the Congo well. A revised draft of the report for subsidiary body four had been prepared, and would be discussed this afternoon. States were urged to support and help finalise the report. Indonesia was committed to reflecting the views of all States in this report, and thanked the States for their positive approach to deliberations.

ALEKSANDER PYTALEV, Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Belarus to the United Nations Office at Geneva and coordinator of subsidiary body five on new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons, radiological weapons, a comprehensive programme of disarmament and transparency in armaments, welcomed the presidency of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and thanked States for their constructive approach to subsidiary body five. Mr. Pytalev called for comments related to the draft report that had been circulated to be submitted in writing. Deliberations on the draft would be held on Thursday. He thanked States for their active and cooperative contributions to the draft report.

IGNACIO SÀNCHEZ DE LERÍN GARCÍA, Deputy Permanent Representative of Spain to the United Nations Office at Geneva, Ambassador for Disarmament, and coordinator of subsidiary body two on the prevention of nuclear war, including all related matters, congratulated the Democratic Republic of the Congo on assuming the presidency. States had agreed on 23 of the 25 paragraphs in the draft report that Spain had prepared, and based on continuing deliberations, a new draft was being prepared and would be submitted in July. There was uncertainty regarding how to proceed in preparing the report, as there were no further meetings of subsidiary bodies scheduled. States should continue to move forward and conclude the work of the subsidiary bodies.

Ambassador PAUL EMPOLE EFAMBE of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said that all coordinators needed more time to finalise their reports, and the Conference needed to reach an agreement regarding the final submission date of these reports.

Pakistan congratulated the Democratic Republic of the Congo on assuming the presidency, and thanked the President for his proposal to discuss cyber security. Pakistan thanked Mr. Hwang for his contribution to the Conference. Pakistan questioned the meaning of the word “multilateralism,” and called for further discussions about what this concept entailed. Pakistan supported finalising the reports of the subsidiary bodies as early as possible, adding that there was a need to continue to hold discussions to achieve consensus on contentious issues.

Cuba congratulated the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on the excellent way in which it carried out its presidency. It also congratulated the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a fellow Group of 21 member, on assuming the presidency.

Cuba called for the subsidiary bodies to produce balanced reports that reflected the positions of all members. Cuba wished to show that the subsidiary bodies were a viable mechanism for making progress on the Conference’s agenda. The path forward was clear, and specific results would be seen soon. Cuba thanked the coordinators of the subsidiary bodies for their efforts. Cuba also thanked Yann Hwang, Permanent Representative of France to the Conference on Disarmament, for his efforts in the Conference. The existence of nuclear weapons was not a prerequisite for peace. Cuba hoped that soon, the peace that Mr. Hwang wished for would be achieved.

Republic of Korea welcomed the presidency of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and thanked Yann Hwang, Permanent Representative of France to the Conference on Disarmament, for his efforts. The Republic of Korea noted that the coordinators of the subsidiary bodies had not reached concrete decisions in 2018, and so consensus was necessary for subsidiary bodies this year. The Republic of Korea suggested that further discussions in subsidiary bodies should be held to work to achieve consensus.

China congratulated the Democratic Republic of the Congo on its assumption of the presidency. The consultations held with the coordinators of the subsidiary bodies yesterday were timely. China would continue to support the work of the presidency in achieving progress in the subsidiary bodies. China thanked the Democratic People's Republic of Korea for its contribution to the Conference through its presidency. China also thanked Yann Hwang, Permanent Representative of France to the Conference on Disarmament, for his contribution to the Conference, and wished him well in future endeavours.

China proposed proceeding with the work of subsidiary bodies through written proposals. It would cooperate actively with the coordinators of the subsidiary bodies to produce balanced reports that reflected the differing positions of members.

Netherland congratulated the Democratic Republic of the Congo on assuming the presidency, and thanked it for outlining its mandate for the presidency. The Netherlands thanked Mallory Stewart, United States Assistant Secretary for the Department of State’s Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, for her statement. It also thanked Yann Hwang, Permanent Representative of France to the Conference on Disarmament, for his contribution. Mr. Hwang was not afraid to negotiate, and had played an active role in taking the work of the Conference forward. Regarding the subsidiary bodies, the Netherlands agreed with the Republic of Korea and that there was a need for a new mandate for the discussions of the subsidiary bodies. The Netherlands was willing to continue to participate in informal discussions, but scheduling was an issue.

Cuba agreed that a new mandate for subsidiary bodies was necessary, but time for this was limited. Even with an extended mandate, consensus may not be reached. Subsidiary bodies did not meet in a formal manner. During such meetings, coordinators could ask the room whether there was consensus on certain issues. Coordinators could receive written proposals, but Cuba did not support a silence procedure. It was difficult to hold meetings during breaks in the Conference, but not impossible, as replacement delegates could be appointed as necessary.

Bulgaria congratulated the Democratic Republic of the Congo on its assumption of the presidency. Bulgaria agreed with the need to overcome the fear to negotiate. It thanked Yann Hwang, Permanent Representative of France to the Conference on Disarmament, for his work in the Conference, and wished him well in his future endeavours.

Russian Federation congratulated the Democratic Republic of the Congo on its assumption of the presidency, and pledged Russia’s support. The statement of the United States referred to its achievements towards disarmament. Its statement also referred to the deteriorating security situation in Europe. The statement, however, had missed the real reason for the breakdown in this situation. The United States fanned the flames of geopolitical tensions across the world. Russia expressed doubts about the United States’ willingness to promote international peace.

The United States had developed and put into practice plans to project their force in any part of the world. It was prepared to carry out lightning strikes in any part of the world. This was not related to national interests, and represented a threat to the entire international community.

The United States had refused to adopt the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, contributed to the destruction of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the Open Skies Treaty, and withdrawn from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972. These moves had struck a crucial blow to international peace and security. The United States had destroyed peace in the former Republic of Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya and Syria, among others. The United States was also against the strengthening of the Convention of Biological and Toxin Weapons, a position motivated by its plans to carry out biological military activities.

For a period of more than 50 years, the United States had attempted to discredit Russian and Chinese efforts to establish a treaty prohibiting the placement of military objects in outer space. The United States was in possession of a global anti-satellite missile system. Further, the United States had violated the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty through nuclear training programmes held with North Atlantic Treaty Organization Member States. New doctrinal documents had also been developed that lowered the threshold regarding the use of nuclear weapons. These documents represented a real threat to international peace. Serbia, Libya and Iran were suffering from the offensives of the United States. Weapons with low-enriched uranium were used in Serbia in 1999, and people were today still suffering from the effects of these weapons.

Iran congratulated the Democratic Republic of the Congo on assuming the presidency, and pledged its support. Iran thanked the coordinators of the subsidiary bodies for their efforts. Iran did not support a silence procedure regarding the subsidiary bodies as this procedure referred mainly to taking decisions. Iran would engage constructively with coordinators of the subsidiary bodies to achieve consensus on draft reports. Iran also thanked Yann Hwang, Permanent Representative of France to the Conference on Disarmament, for his contribution to the Conference.

United States said it supported the proposed plenary by the President on cyber security. The Russian Federation had made some well-worn and preposterous claims regarding the United States. The United States fully respected its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations. The United States thanked Yann Hwang, Permanent Representative of France to the Conference on Disarmament, for his contributions to the Conference.

Ambassador PAUL EMPOLE EFAMBE of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said that the work of the Conference would continue during August. Coordinators of subsidiary bodies had the support of Member States in continuing their work and using whatever means necessary to achieve consensus regarding reports. The Conference aimed to finalise these reports. Another plenary would be held on Thursday if consensus was reached. Subsidiary bodies could continue to hold informal discussions throughout this week and over the break.

 

Produced by the United Nations Information Service in Geneva for use of the information media;
not an official record. English and French versions of our releases are different as they are the product of two separate coverage teams that work independently.

 

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