17 October 2014 - UNGA / 1st Committee - “Machinery of disarmament” - Statement by Mr Jean-Hugues Simon-Michel Ambassador, Permanent Representative of France to the Conference on Disarmament, Head of the French Delegation
France associates itself to the statement of the European Union.
France is committed to effective multilateral disarmament that would create the conditions for a safer world, by working step by step towards general and complete disarmament.
Last year, we expressed our concerns about a certain number of parallel initiatives in the area of nuclear disarmament. We continue to feel that they are incompatible with the NPT Action Plan that was adopted by consensus in 2010. By adopting a stigmatization approach, they can only lead to division, not to inclusion. They also run the risk of fundamentally undermining the NPT that is something we consider extremely concerning, especially in the run-up to the 2015 Review Conference.
France is committed to the Conference on Disarmament (CD), the sole multilateral forum tasked with the negotiation of universal disarmament treaties. Indeed, it was in the Conference on Disarmament, or in its predecessor bodies, that the NPT, BWC, CWC and CTBT were negotiated. Above and beyond the legitimacy given to it by the 1978 Special Session of the General Assembly (SSOD-I), the Conference on Disarmament has three characteristics – three assets – that have made it irreplaceable:
— participation of all States with key capabilities,
— and lastly, consensus.
The rule of consensus ensures the participation of all States, recognizing their legitimate security interests. It guarantees that negotiated agreements are implemented by all those who adopt them. It is lastly and most importantly the best way of achieving universality of treaties. The consensus rule is one condition of the effective multilateralism that we want to see.
At the Conference on Disarmament, substantial progress has been made. The schedule of activities has enabled substantive, unequalled talks on each of the four core issues which have confirmed in particular that the subject of the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT) is ripe. Better understanding one another’s positions, minimizing divergences and identifying possible avenues for compromise are essential for us to move forward. Of course, that is not enough. Our aim remains, more than ever, to move on to the next stage and begin negotiations, in accordance with the priority set for us by Action 15 of the NPT Action Plan and in line with decision CD/1864, which was adopted by the Conference on Disarmament in 2009. It is however true that the debates held this year at the Conference on Disarmament are helping move in that direction. It is important to recognize that progress.
Progress has also been made on FMCT, thanks to the very substantial discussions during the two first sessions of the Group of governmental experts (GGE), which took place in 2014. The work of the GGE will continue in 2015 and we look forward to a report that contains the essential elements to facilitate the negotiation of an FMCT at the Conference on Disarmament according to document CD 1299 and the mandate contained therein.
UNIDIR is an integral part of the disarmament machinery. While it is an independent institution, its work is directly linked to ongoing negotiations and debates. It has an irreplaceable added-value. I would likt to express my warm gratitude and appreciation to the Director, Mrs Theresa Hitchens, for her work for the past 6 years.
The UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) plays an important role in support of the disarmament machinery. It is because of its impartiality that it will be in a position to usefully facilitate a better common understanding among delegations and the progress of our negotiations.
Yet despite an unfavourable international context, disarmament and arms control have made progress in 2014: the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) will enter into force by the end of the year and reflection on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) took place in May under the aegis of the Convention on Certain Classical Weapons (CCW), which moreover is continuing to see new accessions. Moreover, the Maputo Review Conference of the Anti-personnel Mine Ban Convention concluded successfully. The implementation of the NPT 2010 Action Plan is making progress, with the five nuclear weapon States submitting their report under Actions 5, 20 and 21 of the Action Plan and the signing of the Protocol to the Treaty establishing a Central Asian nuclear weapon-free zone. The work of the P5 is continuing.
As we have already recalled, the step-by-step approach is the only one capable of becoming a foundation for long-term progress and building confidence between us all.