23 October 2013 - General Assembly - First Committee - Statement by Mr Jean-Hugues Simon-Michel, Ambassador and French Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament
Mr Chairman, Dear Colleagues,
France associates itself with the statement given by the European Union.
France is committed to effective multilateral disarmament, which helps to create the conditions for a safer world, by working step by step towards general and complete disarmament.
The multilateral bodies in the area of disarmament are operating with uneven results.
1. We have a body of major conventions on weapons of mass destruction that has enabled us to move forward. Generally speaking, their monitoring and implementing mechanisms work satisfactorily. The Review Conference on the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and their Destruction (CWC) last spring, and the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons attest to that. Under the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), the creation of a credible and effective verification body, without waiting for the entry into force of the Treaty, is another example of institutional effectiveness. The review process of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) likewise operates well. Accordingly, in 2010, we defined by consensus a common road map for nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
2. But we have all recognized that there is a problem moving to the next step. When it comes to nuclear disarmament, the next logical step is the negotiation of a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT). This path has been outlined by Security Council Resolution 1887, by Action 15 of the NPT Action Plan, by document CD/1864, the most recent programme of work adopted by consensus at the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in 2009 and lastly, every year, by a General Assembly resolution. Yet the CD has still not managed to launch negotiations on the treaty.
That is why France supported the adoption of Resolution 67/53 last year, which created a Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) tasked with making recommendations on an FMCT, not with negotiating it. This resolution will help us to make progress on this priority issue and is completely in line with the 2010 NPT Action Plan. It hinges on the Conference on Disarmament whose competence it fully respects. The CD is where the FMCT will be negotiated.
3. France is committed to the Conference on Disarmament, the sole multilateral forum tasked with the negotiation of universal disarmament treaties. It is in the CD, or in its predecessors, where the NPT, BWC, CWC and CTBT were negotiated. In addition to the legitimacy given to it by the Special Session of the General Assembly in 1978 (SSOD I), the Conference on Disarmament has three characteristics, or three attributes, that have made it irreplaceable:
— participation of all States with key capabilities,
— and lastly consensus.
Consensus ensures the participation of all States concerned by such negotiations, recognizing that their legitimate security interests need to be respected. 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. Consensus in disarmament negotiations is therefore positive. It is not an obstacle, but rather a condition for the effective multilateralism which we welcome.
France hopes that the CD will be able to resume negotiations swiftly. The Informal Working Group established last August at the initiative of the Iraqi presidency, provides an opportunity to overcome the current deadlock, which has gone on for too long.
4. I have already had the opportunity to express in my general statement, as well as in my nuclear statement, the concerns raised by a number of parallel initiatives. Such initiatives are not in line with the 2010 NPT Action Plan. In the end, it endangers the common road map set out by this Action Plan.
It is likewise important to consider them on the basis of criteria for institutional effectiveness: consensus, participation of all States with key capabilities, respect of the unique competence of the Conference on Disarmament, and complementarity with the existing disarmament architecture. We should ask whether the proposed mandates are clear and relevant, ensure that there is no duplication, and review the cost of the initiatives with regard to the expected added value, in a budgetary context that is particularly tight for many countries. Also, with regard to these criteria, there is the fear that these initiatives will do nothing to improve disarmament.
5. France has a special responsibility with regard to the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) because France is traditionally the author of the five-year resolution on this institution. We need the Institute’s work, whose quality can only be maintained by preserving its independence. Its location in Geneva is essential to managing activities of the disarmament community. It needs our support. We consider the following principles defined by the Special Session of the General Assembly devoted to Disarmament in 1978 to be extremely important:
— autonomy within the United Nations family;
— independence of its work;
— management of the Institute by a Board of Trustees made up of disarmament and security experts acting in their personal capacities.
The UNIDIR is an integral part of the disarmament machinery. It is not a training institution nor is it a purely academic one. While remaining independent, its mandate focuses on the needs of Member States. Its work is directly linked to current negotiations and debates.
6. In a few weeks I will be chairing the Meeting of the States Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). This Convention, with its five Protocols, is an important legal instrument; its humanitarian added value is considerable. But it is also an institution, an integral part of the disarmament machinery. It is the natural forum in which to discuss ways to address the humanitarian consequences of certain weapons and to find solutions to emerging problems such as the implications of developments in robotics.
In this respect, I would like to launch here today an appeal for universalization of this Convention. It warrants the support of extremely large States, particularly producers of weapons. But the issues this institution addresses concern all States, without exception. Yet certain regions in the world are still under-represented. In this regard, I commend once again the recent accession of Kuwait and Zambia to the Convention and its five Protocols and the accession of Bangladesh to the amendment to the Convention and to Protocol V.
7. I would like to conclude with a few words on a new leading institution, the Secretariat of the Arms Trade Treaty. We need to take decisions on this issue shortly. France considers that the unit supporting the implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) provides an appropriate model that can be used with regard to its format, governance and connection with the United Nations.
We also need to make a decision about the headquarters for this Secretariat, taking into account a number of criteria: the presence of expertise with regard to disarmament and arms control, expertise in international humanitarian law and human rights, expertise in international trade and the proximity of field organizations.
The Swiss Confederation submitted its candidacy for the city of Geneva. France considers that Geneva fulfils all the criteria that I just mentioned. France supports Geneva’s candidacy.
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