Statement by Mr. Raza Bashir Tarar Acting Permanent Representative of Pakistan at the General Assembly
Agenda item 162: “Follow-up to the high-level meeting held on 24 September 2010: revitalizing the work of the Conference on Disarmament and taking forward multilateral disarmament negotiations” (New York 28,July 2011)
Pakistan aligns itself with the statement made by Egypt on behalf of NAM.
- Pakistan appreciates the efforts of the UN Secretary General to revitalize the work of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) as well as the international disarmament machinery. It is an opportunity for comprehensive analysis of the problems faced by the whole disarmament machinery, which should not be lost in the pursuit of negotiating a particular treaty. Pakistan’s position on Secretary General’s High Level Meeting (HLM) was circulated as a General Assembly document A/65/378.
- The challenges faced by the international disarmament agenda and the machinery go beyond the CD. The components of contemporary disarmament machinery, created by SSOD-I, are interlinked. The revitalization of those components, including the First Committee and the Disarmament Commission, should therefore be simultaneous and proceed in an integrated and holistic manner.
- The purpose and the overarching goal of creating the CD, as mandated by SSOD-I, was Nuclear Disarmament – an agenda item that has seen no progress for the last 32 years. Indeed, in 2008, the UN Secretary General, in a seminal address articulating his action plan, accorded primacy to Nuclear Disarmament in his five point proposal. The first step, suggested by the Secretary General, called upon all states, in particular the Nuclear Weapon States, to fulfil their obligations under the NPT to undertake negotiations on effective measures leading to nuclear disarmament. While recognizing the CD as the world’s single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum, the Secretary General suggested that the nuclear powers should actively engage with other states, on this issue in the Conference on Disarmament.
- The reason why the Secretary General made that call is the fact that the CD has not been able to live up to its raison d’ etre, i.e. Nuclear Disarmament for more than three decades. It is also a fact that the CD has failed to make any substantive progress for 15 years after concluding CTBT negotiations. Yet, it is astounding that the present quest for revitalization of the CD stems only from the developments of the last two years and is fixated on a single issue. Ironically, the vociferous condemnation of the present stalemate is being championed by the countries which were either themselves responsible for decades of CD’s inactivity or were notably silent.
- In order to clearly assess the reasons underlying the impasse at the CD, it is important to acknowledge the following basic facts:
- The CD’s work or inactivity is a reflection of prevailing political realities as it does not operate in a vacuum.
- No treaty can be negotiated in the CD which is contrary to the security interests of any of its member state. In fact, the Rule of Consensus was introduced in the CD’s Rules of Procedure to ensure this point. Hence, progress in the CD is only possible by meeting or addressing the security concerns of all CD member states.
- The CD’s lack of progress cannot be attributed to its Rules of Procedure since landmark instruments like the CWC and the CTBT were negotiated successfully with the same rules.
- These facts signify that the problems faced by the CD are not of an organizational or procedural nature. It is, therefore, time for us to face the reality and recognize the true reasons due to which the CD has been “dysfunctional”.
- The CD’s history clearly demonstrates a pattern of negotiating only those agreements that do not undermine or compromise the security interest of powerful states. BWC and CWC were negotiated only when biological and chemical weapons became redundant in terms of their operational utility. CTBT was concluded once the major powers had carried out sufficient number of nuclear tests and further testing became unnecessary since they had alternate techniques available in the form of computer simulation. The same is the case with the FMCT. Now, after having developed huge stockpiles of nuclear weapons as well as stocks of fissile material, especially HEU and weapons grade plutonium, which can be quickly converted into nuclear warheads, these major powers are ready to conclude a treaty that will only ban future production of fissile material, since they no longer need more of it. This approach is “cost free” for them as this will not undermine or compromise their security.
- Moreover, in the last few years, the discriminatory policies pursued by some major powers regarding nuclear cooperation have created insecurities and imbalances. These policies, by sacrificing international non-proliferation goals at the altar of power and profit, have accentuated the asymmetry in fissile material stocks in our region. Regrettably, these discriminatory policies continue and have found no opposition amongst the NSG members, comprised of some of the most ardent supporters of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and strongest critics of “lack of progress in the CD”.
- It is for these reasons that Pakistan has been compelled to take a stand against nuclear selectivity and discrimination. No country can be expected to compromise on its fundamental security interests for an instrument that is cost free for all other concerned countries.
- If an honest and objective approach is adopted to revitalize the work of the CD, as well as the whole disarmament machinery, the following steps and measures would need to be taken:
- The agenda of the CD covers a number of critical issues and all issues need to be treated in an equal and balanced manner. Lack of progress on one issue due to security concerns of states should not lead to impasse in the CD as other issues on its agenda can and should be taken up for consideration.
- Nuclear Disarmament remains the longest outstanding issue on the CD’s agenda. The 120-member Non-Aligned Movement, which represents the overwhelming majority in the United Nations, has consistently deemed nuclear disarmament as the highest priority for negotiations in the CD. This priority has again been reaffirmed in the statement made by NAM yesterday. The Plenary meeting should take due note of it.
- The proposal for a legal instrument on NSAs is another important issue that has been on the agenda of the CD for several years. A legally binding instrument on NSAs would not compromise the strategic interests of any country. In reality, no nuclear weapon state would consider using nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon state. Even the threat of doing so is morally reprehensible.
- We need to recognize the realities and work towards building consensus in the CD by taking into account the legitimate security interests of all states.
- The CD cannot negotiate through cherry picking issues that some states consider to be ripe.
- The Nuclear Weapon States need to fulfil their obligations to undertake negotiations on effective measures leading to nuclear disarmament in the CD.
- Double-standards and selectivity will have to be eliminated in non-proliferation and disarmament measures.
- Practical efforts to revitalize the international disarmament machinery must involve convening of the Fourth Special Session of the General Assembly devoted to Disarmament (SSOD-IV), as called for in the NAM statement delivered yesterday. Such a session can make a far-reaching contribution towards furthering the goals of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation in a non-discriminatory, balanced and transparent manner, keeping in view the security interests of all states.
- Before concluding, I would like to strike a note of caution against taking the FMCT outside the CD for negotiations, as we consider the CD as the sole negotiating forum for multilateral disarmament.
- In this regard, let me mention some of the arguments made by a major nuclear power in 2005, in response to the intention of some member states to introduce a draft resolution in the First Committee that sought to establish Ad Hoc Committees under the General Assembly on the four core issues of the CD. That nuclear power stated and I quote:
“The international community needs to continue to focus on getting the CD to work, rather than create another ‘phantom’ CD.”
“We do not conduct negotiations on vital issues of national and global security via majority vote” ;
“The reasons for the existing impasse at the CD are no more soluble in New York than they are in Geneva. The outcome of this resolution will be to retard the very international non-proliferation and disarmament objectives that its sponsors seek to advance.”
- While conveying this position, that country expressly stated that it would not participate in any such process and would not be bound in any way by any agreement emerging from such a body.
- It is interesting to note that the same country is now seeking ways to take a particular issue out of the CD. Such a paradoxical approach is inexplicable.
- Let me, therefore, reiterate that Pakistan will not join any such process nor would it consider accession to the outcome of any such process. It must be borne in mind that taking FMCT out of the CD for negotiations would also create a precedent for a similar modus operandi on other agenda items of the CD such as Nuclear Disarmament and NSAs.
Thank you Mr. President.