NEW YORK, October 25, 2011
For Canada, the potential contribution of the UN’s disarmament machinery to peace and security remains significant. This is why, as first President of the Conference on Disarmament’s 2011 session, Canada worked with all delegations in an attempt to get the CD back to fulfilling its negotiating mandate. Despite these efforts, we were disappointed to find that positions remain as entrenched as ever, and we were consequently unable to put forward a Programme of Work in that period. This unfortunate situation continued during subsequent Presidencies, and therefore this year, as in so many before, the CD remains deadlocked with no substantive progress achieved. It is unacceptable that this body dedicated to advancing disarmament can be presided over by known nuclear proliferators who are in violation of UN Security Council Resolutions. This further undermines the credibility of the CD.
To address this stalemate at the CD, Canada has actively supported a variety of initiatives aimed at strengthening the disarmament machinery. For instance, last year, our former Foreign Minister, the Honourable Lawrence Cannon, spoke at the Secretary-General’s High-Level Meeting focused on Revitalizing the Work of the Conference on Disarmament. Further, together with our partners in the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI), Canada is making practical contributions to implementing the 2010 NPT action plan. But alas, despite these and other noble efforts, it is clear that some are intent on maintaining the status quo.
Regrettably, the CD has over time usurped the role of the Disarmament Commission, and has increasingly spent its time deliberating almost exclusively on procedural issues, thus failing to fulfill its own mandate as a negotiating forum. To reverse this trend, decisive change is desirable.
The responsibility to make this and other aspects of the machinery function effectively does not lie with only 5 countries, or 65 countries, but with all UN Member States. Collectively we must address the serious challenges posed by, amongst other factors, the fact that a small minority is blocking the CD from doing what it is supposed to do: negotiate. Broken disarmament machinery won’t fix itself. We ought to assume our responsibility as accountable members of the international community to explore all avenues to make the CD realize its raison d’être and start negotiations.
Beyond the CD, we must make appropriate use of the international organizations, bodies, offices and units expressly designed to support the various international agreements that form part of the global non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament agenda. In particular, we would note the important work being done by, inter alia, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and the Implementation Support Units of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, the Biological Weapons Convention and the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. The way in which the above bodies function represent potential templates for getting the UN’s disarmament and related machinery back to productive work toward the common goal of a more secure world. That is why Canada is concerned that opposition by states, such as Iran, Cuba, and Venezuela, at the IAEA annual General Conference in September, prevented adoption of a longstanding resolution on the strengthening of safeguards. This is a worrying development for a key aspect of disarmament machinery.
Canada continues to view an FMCT as the next logical disarmament initiative and will again be tabling a resolution to ban the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other explosive devices. It is our hope that all nations will support this text, recognizing that the status quo of inaction is unacceptable. With this in mind, our delegation would like to congratulate Australia and Japan for co-hosting a successful series of FMCT side events in Geneva this year that have helped to lay the foundation for future negotiations. In closing, I wish to reiterate Canada’s commitment to working with all delegations in the First Committee to produce resolutions for consideration by the General Assembly that will further our common goal of international peace and security.