Sumario: 24 September 2010, New York - Statement on behalf of the European Union by H.E. Mr. Steven Vanackere, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Belgium, at the High-level Meeting on Revitalising the Work of the Conference on Disarmament and Taking Forward Multilateral Disarmament Negotiations
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Candidate Country Croatia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia, as well as the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.
1. I would like, first of all, to commend you, Mr Secretary-General, for convening this high-level meeting on an issue of great importance. The key question before us today is: how to make sure that the disarmament and arms control architecture lives up to our needs, hopes and expectations?
2. We are glad to see a renewed momentum in global disarmament and non-proliferation as illustrated by Security Council Resolution 1887, the new START, the Washington Summit on nuclear security, the NPT Review Conference, and other important events in the field of conventional arms, such as the entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. We also witness an intensified international public debate to which you have personally contributed, Mr. Secretary General, through your Five-Point Plan.
3. The European Union warmly welcomes these developments. We are fully committed to maintaining and strengthening this momentum and to implementing agreed outcomes in full cooperation with other States in keeping with our EU Strategy Against the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction.
4. Notwithstanding this positive trend overall, the European Union is deeply troubled by the apparent dysfunction of a crucial part of the disarmament machinery, in particular by the ongoing stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament (CD). Last year's adoption of the Programme of Work in CD/1864 was an important breakthrough, which would have allowed CD members to start negotiations on a multilateral and verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. For the European Union, launching these negotiations is urgent and important. All CD Member States should appreciate that starting negotiations is the beginning of the process of identifying and protecting specific national security concerns, rather than the end. We also consider that there are confidence-building measures that can be taken immediately, without waiting for the beginning of formal negotiations. This is why we call on all States possessing nuclear weapons to declare and uphold a moratorium on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.
5. The EU reaffirms once more its commitment to engage in substantive discussions on the other core issues on the CD agenda.
6. We deeply regret that despite the overwhelming support for negotiations, the CD was not able at this stage to seize the momentum in global disarmament and non-proliferation, and has once more become bogged down in endless, and ultimately fruitless, consultations and procedural manoeuvres A review of working methods is part of the European Union's proposals to improve the functioning of the CD.
7. We acknowledge the security concerns of all States. But ultimately it must be clear that the world cannot afford to stand-still on the crucial issues of disarmament and non-proliferation.
Mr Secretary General,
8. Let me use this occasion to recall the European Union's longstanding attachment to the enlargement of the CD. The European Union supports the call made by the informal group of Observer States to the CD, including some European Union Member States, to appoint in 2011 a special co-ordinator on expansion of the CD membership.
9. Consistent with the European Union's engagement with civil society, we are also open to explore ways to strengthen the voice of NGOs and research institutions in the CD.
10. The UNGA First Committee is another important body to discuss current topics and develop timely initiatives on non-proliferation and disarmament issues. UN member states share the responsibility for maintaining the relevance of this forum. The First Committee should improve its working methods in order to be capable of debating contemporary security challenges and to develop concrete measures to address them.
11. Last but not least, let me also mention the UN Disarmament Commission. We believe that its procedures and operating principles should be thoroughly reviewed and enhanced. A greater involvement of civil society in the work of this body would also be welcomed. The aim must be for the UN Disarmament Commission to deliver concrete and relevant contributions to the international disarmament debate.
Mr Secretary General,
12. The European Union is ready to engage with you and with all UN member States to identify ways and means to overcome the deadlock in the CD. We still believe that the Conference on Disarmament is the best place to forge credible multilateral treaties shared by Nuclear Weapon States and Non-Nuclear Weapon States alike. At the same time, we must be aware that if the CD's stand-still continues, the international community will have to reflect on options and, if necessary, identify other ways to ensure progress in multilateral non-proliferation and disarmament.
13. Let me summarize the European Union's concrete proposals: