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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 13, February - March 1997

Statements to the CD:
Austria, Mexico, Sweden

Austria

'Statement on CD Work Programme,' Ambassador Harald Kreid, 13 March 1997

Landmines

"...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 States...

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 growing.

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 ineffective solutions.

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 course. ...

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."

Nuclear disarmament

"...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 multifaceted edifice.

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.'..."

Mexico

Statement by Ambassador Antonio de Icaza, 6 March 1997

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 Disarmament. ...

...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 time. ..."

'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 weapons. ...

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. ..."

Sweden

Statement by Foreign Minister Lena Hjelm-Wallen, 11 March 1997

Nuclear disarmament

"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 process. ...

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."

Landmines

"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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