Statement by Mr. Khalil Hashmi,Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the United Nations, New York at the First Committee Thematic Debate on Disarmament Machinery (68th Session of the UNGA) (23 October 2013)

Mr. Chairman,

Pakistan delegation associates itself with the statement made by the Non-Aligned Movement.

During the past few years, some of the discourse over the machinery of disarmament has focused on the following myths:

    • The Conference on Disarmament (CD) has failed to produce any treaty in the last four years;
    • Among the four core issues on the CD agenda, there is consensus on one issue;
    • The working methods and rules of procedure of the CD are out-dated and need to be changed;

Facts however paint a different picture. These are:

    • The CD has faced a deadlock over negotiations since 1996 – ever since the CTBT was concluded;
    • The fact that the deadlock over nuclear disarmament- the raison d’etre of the CD - has existed for more than three decades;
    • There is no hierarchy or ripeness to negotiate any one issue on the CD’s agenda.
    • Lack of consensus is not just about one issue. There is no consensus on any of the four core issues on the CD agenda. Absence of consensus on these issues cannot be pinned down to the position of one state.
    • The CD’s lackluster performance cannot be attributed to its procedural rules. After all, it was with the same rules and methods that the CD produced landmark treaties and conventions such as the CWC and the CTBT;

Mr. Chairman,

The challenges facing the international disarmament agenda and the machinery are not exclusive to the CD.

Let us consider the state of affairs in the First Committee. In the past ten years, several measures have been taken to rationalize and improve the methods of work of the Committee. The primary goals of these efforts were to achieve efficiency and effectiveness as also the “results”. We have now followed for over a decade a more streamlined programme of work, biennialization or triennialization of resolutions, more structured thematic debates, consolidation of reports as well as early selection of Chairs of the Committee and Bureau.

Yet, with all these efficiency-driven measures, the effectiveness, authority and results of the First Committee are obvious. These facts would suggest that the disarmament agenda and machinery insofar as the First Committee is concerned is as much at a standstill as the CD. More importantly, the changes in working methods have not led to results on substance either i.e. forward movement on the priority accorded to nuclear disarmament.

Similarly, the UNDC has not been able to agree on any document for more than a decade and half. The differences in perceptions and priorities among Member States have been so deep that the Commission was not able, at times, to agree even on the wording of its nuclear agenda item. The Disarmament Commission has also attempted, in its own way, to the improvement of its working methods.

Surely, there is always room for more improvement but the real issue, in our view is how to deal with the political dynamics and developments outside the conference rooms of the United Nations.

It is therefore clear that other parts of the disarmament machinery are confronted with similar difficulties. What is not clear is the question: why single out the CD alone for its inaction?

Mr. Chairman,

Some states have consistently called for bringing changes to the current rules of procedures of the CD in an attempt to break the deadlock. Some important delegations have even called for redefining the consensus principle in the CD. Even though we believe that rules of procedure are not the obstacle, we are willing to work with other CD members to examine concrete proposals for CD’s reform.

However, we want to reiterate our opinion that the problems facing the CD and the other parts of the disarmament machinery are not organizational or procedural. The problems relate to the “external political environment”, which impacts on these fora. As we all know the CD does not operate in a vacuum and is affected by developments that take place outside its chamber.

Mr. Chairman,

To make progress in the CD, it is essential to take into account the security concerns of all States. This is the only way to unblock the CD. No treaty has ever been agreed nor will be, by the negotiating States unless their legitimate security concerns are accommodated. In this context, Pakistan associates itself with the Joint Statement by Russia on behalf of Interested States in support of the CD.

There have also been efforts to explore other options to the CD. In our view, such attempts, perhaps well meaning, are contrary to the recognized international position adopted by consensus that the CD is the single multilateral negotiating forum for disarmament. Pakistan will not be part of any effort that directly or indirectly undermines the authority of the CD as the sole disarmament negotiating body.

It will not be possible to elaborate elements or develop provisions of a treaty in an outside CD forum with limited membership and then try to bring it back into the CD for endorsement or adoption. It is very unlikely that the CD members, especially those not part of the outside option, would be willing to accept such conclusions or inputs.

Moreover, changing the forum or format will not overcome the fundamental obstructions. Worse still, there would be the temptation to seek outside CD options for at least some, if not all the issues on the CD agenda. Therefore, such a step will open a Pandora’s box for the CD and perhaps for the entire UN disarmament machinery.

Mr. Chairman,

We wish to reiterate that the the CD is not a forum to only negotiate one item on its agenda – as is being argued by some. There are four core issues on the CD’s agenda and a way must be found to make progress on one issue or issues that are not in conflict with the security interests of any member state.

In our view, negotiating an Instrument on Negative Security Assurances is eminently ready for negotiations as it does not undermine the security interests of any nuclear weapons state.

Mr. Chairman,

Finally, a few words on UNIDIR and developments relating to composition of various GGEs in the area of disarmament.

As for UNIDIR, Pakistan values its contribution in the field of disarmament through its research work. We share the view that in examining proposals for consolidation of research and training entities, the Institutes’ independence and autonomy must be retained. At the same time, we encourage the Institute and its Board of Trustees to include disarmament researchers and research institutions from developing countries in its projects.

We thank Assistant Secretary General Kim Won-soo for his broad based consultations with Member States to explore possibilities of greater consolidation and coherence within the UN entities. Pakistan supports the goals of greater efficiency, cost savings and streamlining. However, more details and clarity is needed on the modalities of the proposal made by Mr. Kim in regard to UNIDIR.

Mr. Chairman,

Pakistan shares the concerns outlined by the Non Aligned Movement yesterday on the reduced representation of developing countries in the Groups of Governmental Experts in the area of disarmament. We call for an equitable representation of developing countries in such GGEs. It is also essential that the core values of transparency that the UN system seeks to espouse and broad-based consultations with Member States are adhered to in the process of establishing these GGEs.

The reports and recommendations evolved by a select and small number of countries through these GGEs will only garner the legitimacy and acceptance among the entire membership when opportunities are made available to developing countries to participate in the GGEs.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.