Conference on Disarmament to play a catalytic role in advancing the disarmament agenda

Ban Ki-moon

Ban Ki-moon

NARRATOR: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed his confidence in the great potential of the Conference on Disarmament to play a catalytic role in advancing the disarmament agenda. But he also made a fresh appeal to its members to live up to that potential – and to meet the expectations of the international community.  In remarks to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva this week, the Secretary-General noted that hard-won momentum had been built over the past several years, but warned that the next few years will be critical.
He urged the members to push forward on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, or risk sliding back.

TAPE: (French, followed by English interpretation)

This is why disarmament and non-proliferation are among my top priorities for the year ahead. As I told the General Assembly two weeks ago, if we are to build on the current momentum, we need even more concrete action than we have achieved to date.

It is my sincere hope that such action will again emanate from the CD. The world’s multilateral disarmament machinery should deliver more and more quickly. I call on you to become a first harbinger of hope for 2011 in the field of disarmament. The Conference on Disarmament is the undisputed home of international arms control efforts. From its inception, the Conference has had a unique function. As the world’s single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum, it has produced landmark treaties that have promoted international security while demonstrating that multilateral collaboration can serve the global and national interest alike.

NARRATOR: Secretary-General Ban pointed out that the Conference on Disarmament’s record of achievement has been overshadowed by inertia that has now lasted for more than a decade. He warned that the very credibility of the body is at risk, explaining that continued inaction will only endanger its future as a multilateral negotiating forum.

TAPE: There was a brief glimmer of hope almost two years ago, when the sense of crisis led the Conference to adopt a programme of work by consensus under the Algerian presidency….Unfortunately, the programme of work for your 2009 session was not implemented, and the Conference ended its 2010 session without starting substantive work. This has been deeply disappointing. Indeed, there appears to be a disconnect between the Conference on Disarmament and the recent positive developments in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation. On the one hand, States have made welcome progress on a variety of matters that have a direct impact on the global security environment. They have taken steps to strengthen nuclear security, with more expected. The States parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons had a successful review conference in 2010 – the first in ten years. Important bilateral efforts are coming to fruition, as we have seen with the new START treaty. But on the other hand, the Conference on Disarmament has played little or no role in these advances. Where States and civil society initiatives are on the move, this body has remained stagnant.

NARRATOR: The Secretary-General recalled last September’s high-level meeting on revitalizing the work of the Conference on Disarmament where many foreign ministers and other high-level political leaders expressed their deep concern about the inability of the Conference on Disarmament to overcome its differences.
He noted that participants at the meeting were also unanimous in stressing that limited membership of the Conference on Disarmament is a privilege and so is the consensus rule. And they called on members of the Conference to accept that this privilege comes with responsibility.

TAPE: The message was clear. This should not be another year of business-as-usual. Just one or two countries must not be able to block the process indefinitely. Moreover, we must not risk pushing States to resort to alternative arrangements outside the Conference on Disarmament. The future of the CD is in your hands. It is for you, the members, to decide whether it will live up to the expectations of the international community or face the consequences. The continued deadlock has ominous implications for international security. The longer it persists, the graver the nuclear threat – from existing arsenals, from the proliferation of such weapons, and from their possible acquisition by terrorists. The CD must find a way to continue its invaluable work. It must focus on promoting global goals that are fully universal in scope. It must do its part to advance the rule of law in the field of disarmament. It must not let one lost decade for the Conference turn into a second.

NARRATOR: Secretary-General Ban concluded that the world was waiting for one bold step by the Conference. But it requires collective action from the members of the Conference on Disarmament. He called on the members to put aside their differences; serve the global interest; and build a safer world.

This is Donn Bobb reporting.
duration: 6’08″

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