Issue No. 13, February - March 1997
Statements to the CD:
Austria, Mexico, Sweden
'Statement on CD Work Programme,' Ambassador Harald Kreid, 13
"...Austria's position can be resumed in one single sentence: We
want a total ban and we want it fast. We believe that the momentum
created in the wake of the CCWC [Convention on Certain Conventional
Weapons] Review Conference in Geneva last year should be used for
negotiations on a total ban convention in a format that allows for
[its] successful conclusion before the end of the year. ...
We are...greatly encouraged by the response of governments to
the Canadian initiative... This fact became apparent in the meeting
held in Vienna from 12-14 February. There were 111 participating
During the general debate 44 speakers took the floor and an
overwhelming majority of them supported the adoption of a total ban
convention. In the subsequent exchange of views on the main
elements of a draft treaty text about 70 countries intervened and
contributed a wealth of proposals. These proposals are being given
due consideration in the process of revising the Austrian tentative
draft. It is our intention to send out a revised version of the
Austrian draft to all States by the end of March for comments.
The Vienna meeting did not solve, nor was it meant to solve, the
question of where we should negotiate. ... Austria is
willing to pursue various tracks provided they hold promise of
success. Having carefully registered what has been said and also
what has not been said on the subject here in the CD during the
last weeks, we have reason to believe that we are up against some
major obstacles in this Conference. ...
We are not willing to submit to a strategy of long-term
persuasion complete with trade-offs and linkages and subject to an
unpredictable stop-and-go process. We consider the issue as
solvable, and it should be solved in a straightforward manner. The
train is about to leave the station. The CD could still get on it,
but it is getting more difficult [every] moment, as impatience is
Of course, there is always a danger that not all of the
passengers whom we would have liked to have with us will be on
board. But this is a fact we have to live with. Just like the
Ottawa process, the CD could not count on the participation of all
the countries directly affected by the evil of anti-personnel
landmines either. Thus, we might find ourselves in the unpleasant
situation of having, at least for the time being, to forego
universality in order not to end up empty--handed or with
We believe, however, in the importance of establishing a
universal norm by means of a law-making treaty and we are
confident that this treaty will meet with general adherence in due
One final remark: we do not share the apprehension of some
delegations that the CD must keep away from APLMs [anti-personnel
landmines] because this is a matter of humanitarian law only. True
enough, a treaty on APLMs has strong humanitarian components. At
the same time we should not lose sight of the fact that banning a
defensive weapon carries with it a strong disarmament dimension as
well. To recognize from the very beginning this straddling
character of the APLM convention seems too us of some importance
for its future implementation."
"...we have no reason to be despondent as to progress achieved
in this field. ... It may well be argued that past advances were
slow, perhaps even haphazard, lacking in systematic planning and
blueprints. But they are nonetheless real, they are nonetheless
reassuring, and they tell us, above all, one thing: Let us move on
and let us not be too choosy and over-ambitious. Rather, let us
take what we can get now. So if we are not able to solve the
daunting issue of nuclear disarmament in one great stroke now, let
us attend to what is feasible, and in doing so add another valuable
facet, namely a Treaty on Fissile Material Cut-Off (FMCT) to this
It is said that a FMCT would not be a genuine disarmament
treaty, that it would mainly serve the purpose of Nuclear Power
States... We believe that this is at least an incomplete, if not an
erroneous view. A cut-off treaty would...create far-reaching
effects on nuclear disarmament. ... To borrow the words of an
Indian diplomat, an FMCT would 'reinforce the trend of moving
towards a nuclear-weapon-free culture.' It would put a sticker on
fissile material for nuclear explosions which would not only read
'Keep Off: Radioactive Radiation', but... 'This material is not
only dangerous, it is superfluous.' The excess capacities in
plutonium and highly-enriched uranium are staggering..."
...a window of opportunity for nuclear disarmament has opened.
As the report of the Canberra Commission states, 'it must be
exploited quickly...' But the Canberra Commission also approached
this subject pragmatically. It proposed to proceed in a
step-by-step fashion in order to move in a first phase towards a
'low-salience nuclear world.'
How could this be reflected in our work? Could we start to
negotiate [a] cut-off and, at the same time, set up some kind of
mechanism to examine what nuclear disarmament measures could
usefully be negotiated by the CD, in addition to, or after the
conclusion of, the Fissile Material Cut-Off Convention, in
accordance with the 'systematic and progressive' efforts at
reduction to which the nuclear-weapon States pledged themselves
under the NPT 'Principles and Objectives'? Those among us who plead
such a course should, however, be fully cognizant of the fact that
the very sub-paragraph 4c of the above-mentioned 'Principles and
Objectives' also refers to the need for simultaneous pursuit 'by
all States of general and complete disarmament under strict and
effective international control.'..."
Statement by Ambassador Antonio de Icaza, 6 March
Prioritising nuclear disarmament
"Although our Agenda for this year contains seven items, we all
know that in practice the Conference could not carry on,
simultaneously, negotiations on each of such items. In fact, it is
doubtful that the Conference is capable of pursuing and bringing to
conclusion more than one negotiation at [one] time. Therefore, it
is necessary not to waste our limited capabilities by undertaking
tasks which are not of highest priority or which would duplicate
efforts undertaken in other multilateral fora.
Nuclear disarmament measures have the 'highest priority' - as
stated in the Final Document [of the 1978 United Nations 1st
Special Session on Disarmament] that, as we have agreed, must guide
our endeavours. ...
Although it cannot be denied that the threat of a nuclear
holocaust has diminished, no one can assure for how long, and
certainly such a danger will exist as long as nuclear weapons
continue to exist. ...nowadays new and increasing concerns have
arisen regarding the reliability and security of nuclear arsenals
and with respect to the control of technology and of the materials
associated with the production of nuclear weapons. The risk of
non-authorized or accidental launches has increased. Thus, we are
as close to possible catastrophes as we were during the East-West
confrontation. The Final Document admirably foresaw that nuclear
disarmament measures shall have the highest priority 'until the
total elimination of nuclear weapons has been achieved.'
International public opinion, organized civil society and the
majority of the...Members of the United Nations have undertaken a
variety of initiatives aimed at the total elimination of nuclear
weapons, in what is starting to look as a general mobilization for
the delegitimization of such weapons...
In order to comply with this imperative obligation...the Group
of 21 has been proposing, in this sole negotiating forum on
disarmament, the establishment of an Ad-Hoc Committee on Nuclear
...the Group of 21 proposed in March 1996 that the Ad-Hoc
Committee on Nuclear Disarmament have as mandate the negotiation on
a phased programme of nuclear disarmament for the eventual
elimination of nuclear weapons within a specified framework of
'No' to CD landmines negotiations
"My Delegation has listened with great interest to statements
made in the plenary of the Conference, as well as in informal
sessions, regarding the urgent need of a total prohibition
of...landmines. We share the concerns and the sense of urgency
inspiring those delegations which support a total ban of such
We have respectfully taken note of the arguments favouring that
this Conference undertakes negotiations on ... landmines...
Nevertheless...restrictions or prohibitions of conventional weapons
which may be deemed to be...indiscriminate...should be negotiated
in their proper forum, which is the one for reaffirming and
developing International Humanitarian Law in general, and in
particular the 1980 Convention [on Certain Conventional Weapons]...
Self invitation processes are the common practice in the
International Humanitarian Law field, and in special conferences
convened...by individual countries universally accepted
prohibitions or bars of conventional weapons have been achieved. We
hope to conclude this year in the Ottawa process an international
legally-binding agreement to ban anti-personnel landmines and -
relying on the expansive force of Treaties - we are confident that
a universal norm will be established. ...
The anti-personnel landmines crisis calls for urgent solutions.
Swiftness is not this Conference's main virtue. Unfortunately,
neither can it be said that its agreements have guaranteed
universality and the participation of 'key States.' ... Because the
objectives that are pursued and the applicable principles are
different in the disarmament and in the International Humanitarian
Law fields, the First Special Session of the General Assembly
devoted to Disarmament entrusted to a special Conference...the task
of reaching agreements on prohibitions of such weapons... This
forum has neither previous experience nor special expertise in
humanitarian issues. ..."
Statement by Foreign Minister Lena Hjelm-Wallen, 11 March
"The CD should now start negotiations on a [cut-off]... This is
the next urgent task. ... The time has now come to proceed to
substantive work. I urge all delegations to show the necessary
flexibility to get these negotiations started without further
delay. It is highly important that the CD meet the expectations
placed upon it by the international community. ...
Significant steps have been taken in the field of nuclear
disarmament. ... However, the existing nuclear arsenals are still
greatly disproportionate to any actual or conceivable threats. The
nuclear disarmament process must therefore continue unabated.
The nuclear-weapon States have, indeed, a great responsibility.
A situation where these States insist on the security benefits of
nuclear weapons, while reserving to themselves the right to possess
such weapons, is not sustainable.
START II should be ratified without delay. ... This would...pave
the way for additional deep reductions of the US and Russian
nuclear arsenals, which in turn would create a basis for the
participation of all the nuclear-weapon States in the reduction
In August last year the Canberra Commission delivered its
report. ...One step [it] proposed...is to take nuclear forces off
alert. This step could and should be taken immediately by the
nuclear-weapon States. Such a measure would greatly reduce the risk
of an accidental or unauthorised nuclear weapons launch. It would
also constitute an important confidence-building measure.
Furthermore, it would facilitate the implementation of another of
the Commission's proposals, namely to remove nuclear warheads from
their delivery systems.
Sweden believes it would be useful to establish some mechanism,
within the CD, to discuss broader aspects of nuclear disarmament.
This could be in the form of an Ad Hoc Committee, or a Special
Coordinator, or informal plenary meetings devoted to this subject.
The form is not important. What matters is to have some kind of
mechanism, which enables a focused discussion of these issues."
"The international community must spare no efforts to achieve a
comprehensive...ban... Partial measures will not solve the problem.
We must aim for a total prohibition, and we must achieve this
objective as soon as possible. This process should involve the
broadest possible range of States... Sweden will work actively in
all suitable fora. We participate in the Ottawa process and we are
ready to do so in the CD. ..."
© 1998 The Acronym Institute.
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