2013 Substantive Session of the UN Disarmament Commission

4/3/2013 // This statement was held by Minister Counsellor Mr.Knut Langeland.

Mr. Chair,

Let me congratulate you on your election as Chairman for the 2013 session, as well as the other member of the bureau. I would also thank the Chair of the last year's session for a job well done.

The 2013 UNDC session takes place the week following the ATT Conference, which unfortunately was unable to agree on a treaty that would have made a difference for millions of human beings. It was thus highly encouraging that the UN General Assembly yesterday was able to take corrective measures and adopt the Treaty text with huge majority.

The ATT Conference illustrated the weakness of a strict interpretation of the consensus principle in multilateral negotiations. Most member states where ready to accept the draft treaty submitted by the President of the Conference. Yet, it could not be adopted since less than a handful of delegations objected.

In the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, we also see that a small number of countries can block commencement of negotiations in order to move closer to our common objective to achieve a world without nuclear weapons as set out by the NPT.

The NPT 2010 Review Conference adopted a comprehensive Action Plan with clear disarmament and non-proliferation obligations. There has been progress in certain areas, such as the new START treaty and the P5 deliberations on nuclear disarmament. We are moving forward on securing nuclear material. We are pleased that 119 UN Member States are implementing IAEA Additional Protocol on safeguards and hopefully more will follow suit.

It is however obvious that we are lagging behind in realizing the multilateral commitments of the NPT Action Plan. The CD remains paralyzed, despite that overwhelming majority of UN Member States see an urgent need to reach a treaty banning production of fissile materials for weapons purposes, and also to address the issue of existing stockpiles. The CTBT has not entered into force due to lack of ratifications of Annex 2 countries.

The paralysis of the CD has furthermore repercussions to other part of the disarmament machinery. Indeed, the UNDC has been plagued by lack of substantive progress for many years. A person born in the year the Commission last time made a substantive recommendation is now almost a high school student. My delegation therefore fully agrees with those who fear that the UNDC may increasingly be perceived as irrelevant.

This shows the urgent need to take a serious look on how we conduct our business. Norway reiterates that the UNDC would benefit of introducing more flexible working methods. We continue to believe that the UNDC should have a more focused agenda and that the outcome of our meetings could be a Chair summary, if there is no agreed recommendations. Yet, deliberations can build trust and subsequently pave the way for common observations and agreements.

Some affirm that the reason for the current standstill in bodies like the CD and the UNDC is lack of political will. My delegation does not fully share such a view. There is a clear political will by most to move forward.

While, our traditional multilateral disarmament machinery is struggling, the picture on multilateral arms control is still not so bleak. We are making progress in a number of fields.

We are moving forwards in implementing the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Mine Ban Treat. A growing number of countries are becoming States Parties to these instruments. These two instruments have set fundamental norms which are adhered to by states which are not formally part to these two treaties.

There is growing recognition of the humanitarian impact of the use nuclear weapons as illustrated at the Oslo Conference in March.

The UN General Assembly showed courage last year when it decided to take certain actions in addressing the current impasse in multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations, such as the establishment of the Open-ended Working Group and the possible future establishment of a working group on FMCT. We also hope that the High Level meeting on Nuclear Disarmament in September will contribute in re-energizing multilateralism.

Lastly, the UN General Assembly adopted yesterday the ATT.

Mr. Chair,

We are in the middle of a three year cycle of the UNDC. It is expected of us to come up with concrete recommendations next year. It is the hope of my delegation that we can make use of the coming weeks for a constructive conversation on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and on CBMs on conventional weapons.

We should use the time available for genuine deliberations and identify areas where differences could be bridged. It is also the hope of my delegation that the content of our deliberations can be brought forward to the 2014 session.


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