Minister Cowen addresses Conference on Disarmament (Part II)
Preserving the integrity of the NPT means respecting all its provisions and the commitments freely undertaken at Review Conferences. The progress which can be achieved by the NPT States Parties, if there is sufficient political will, was evident in the conclusions of the Final Document of the 2000 Review Conference which provided a realistic blueprint for achieving nuclear disarmament. Ireland, together with our New Agenda Coalition partners, worked hard to achieve that outcome. The thirteen practical steps for the systematic and progressive efforts to implement Article VI were agreed by consensus and include an unequivocal undertaking by the Nuclear Weapons States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.
A rules based system is one respected by all. A consensus agreement, such as the 2000 Final Document, imposes particular responsibilities and retains a particular legitimacy.
The 2000 Final Document also includes commitments on non-proliferation, including in the area of safeguards. The Conference specifically endorsed the measures of the Model Additional Protocol approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors. Ireland believes that an Additional Protocol is now an essential element of any effective safeguards regime. Ireland together with all other EU Member States has completed the necessary national measures for the entry into force of such Protocols. I would urge all States, regardless of the size or nature of their nuclear programme, which have not yet signed and ratified an Additional Protocol to do so. This would be an important demonstration of their commitment to the NPT.
There is a fundamental link between the objectives of the NPT and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty which was the last major agreement to be negotiated in this forum. Ireland continues to see the CTBT as one of the fundamental building steps on the road to nuclear disarmament. Eight years after its adoption by the UN General Assembly and despite the support of an overwhelming number of United Nations Member States, the Treaty has yet to secure the support required in order for it to enter into force.
In recognition of the dangers posed by Weapons of Mass Destruction, the European Union adopted a Strategy on the non-proliferation of such weapons at the European Council last December. We are agreed that non-proliferation should be mainstreamed into our overall policies drawing upon all the resources and instruments available to the Union. We are working to support the multilateral institutions charged with verification and upholding compliance with the Treaties. Furthermore, we are committed to strong national and internationally-coordinated export controls as a necessary complement to the Treaty system.
Support for multilateral instruments must translate into support for effective compliance with their provisions. For this reason Ireland supports an effective compliance and verification instrument for the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. We recognise the work which has been done by the meetings of State Parties last year and welcome the focus on effective national measures to ensure full implementation of the provisions of the Treaty. As part of the EU Strategy on Weapons of Mass Destruction, we are working with our partners to secure the universalisation of the Treaty.
The Chemical Weapons Convention also provides for a ban on this category of weapons of mass destruction. The possible existence of chemical weapons in countries which are not party to the Convention is a source of concern and with our EU partners we will continue to promote the universalisation of the Convention.
The Conference on Disarmament has made an outstanding contribution in the area of arms control and disarmament. The present inaction is in stark contrast to that proud past. Since joining the Conference in 1999 we have seen no work of any significance take place here.
The reasons for the impasse are obvious. A political consensus is lacking on the next steps to be taken in the multilateral arena on arms control and disarmament issues.
We should not permit our work here to be held hostage to any single issue. Yet it should be possible to find agreement which will reflect common concerns.
For our part, Ireland supports the establishment in the CD of a subsidiary body to deal specifically with the issue of nuclear disarmament. We believe that the CD should commence negotiations on a Treaty dealing with fissile material. We see merit in embarking on a process which could eventually lead to an agreement on the non-weaponisation of outer space. At the same time we are realistic and appreciate that this body is unlikely to start negotiations across a wide range of issues at the same time.
If this Conference cannot yet give expression to a political consensus on future negotiations, it surely can play a role in creating the shared understanding which must be the basis of any such consensus. Structured discussions on each item of the agenda of the Conference could build understanding of complex issues and appreciation of each others concerns. This can only lead to greater trust which must be the basis of any negotiation.
The Conference should also reflect on the relevance of its methods of work in to-day's world. I find it hard to believe, much less understand, how a body charged with a mandate of such relevance to humankind and drawing its funding from the United Nations can continue to effectively exclude Civil Society from a meaningful role in its deliberations. Nor can I understand the exclusivity with which the Conference guards its membership. While your membership includes some with modest engagement with multilateral disarmament treaties, others who are staunch upholders of the multilateral disarmament system are denied entry. Amongst the latter I would include Member States of the European Union and Acceding States whose admission has been blocked for many years.
The issue of legitimacy underpins respect for multilateral action. We must remember that if we want an effective multilateral system we must all contribute meaningfully to it. The multilateral system is about empowerment and ownership. We are all responsible for finding shared solutions and for playing our part in implementing them.
Thank you Mr President. Top