Speech held by Ambassador Bernhard Brasack on 20 February 2007 in GenevaMr. President,
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
First of all, I would like to congratulate you, Mr President, on the assumption of the post as the President of the Conference on Disarmament. I can assure you of the European Union’s full support in your efforts to guide the work of this Conference.
Allow me also, Mr. President, to congratulate Ambassador Draganov of Bulgaria and Ambassador Wibisono of Indonesia on the assumption of the post as Coordinators, for item 5 and item 6 of our agenda, respectively. The EU would like to assure you, Mr President, as well as all Coordinators, of our full support in your efforts to guide and lead our work under the different agenda items.
The question of a comprehensive programme of disarmament has for a long time been discussed in the CD and its predecessor organisations. It was included on the agenda of the Committee on Disarmament in 1980 and several subsidiary bodies - first of the Committee on Disarmament and subsequently the Conference on Disarmament - have dealt with the issue and presented reports, for the last time in 1989. Annexed to these reports was the text of the programme as negotiated up to that point. After that, the issue was only discussed directly in the CD up to 1992 so that paragraphs 83 to 90 of the Conference’s 1992 report form the last comprehensive record of consideration of the question of a comprehensive programme of disarmament.
In 1997, this item became a platform for considering a new issue, namely, a comprehensive global ban on anti-personnel landmines, by appointing a Special Coordinator with the task of undertaking consultations on a possible mandate on the question of anti-personnel landmines. His task was enlarged in 1998 with seeking the views of the Members of the Conference on the most appropriate way to deal with the questions related to anti-personnel landmines taking into account, inter alia, developments outside the Conference, which was, of course, the signing in Ottawa, in December 1997, of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention.
At this juncture, I would like to reiterate the EU’s full support for this Convention. We welcome progress achieved in universalising the Convention, destroying stockpiled anti-personnel mines, clearing mined areas and assisting the victims. We consider the First Review Conference in Nairobi in 2004 as a landmark success that provided the international community with an opportunity both to assess and reflect on the progress that has been made on the path to a mine free world . In order to overcome the remaining challenges for the full implementation of the Convention, the Nairobi Conference agreed on an ambitious Action Plan for the next five years to which the EU is fully committed. We welcome and support the subsequently adopted Final Documents of the Sixth and Seventh Meeting of States Parties held in Zagreb 2005 and in Geneva 2006, respectively.
Building on this success, the EU welcomes the appeal of the World Summit to the Parties of the Convention to fully implement their commitments as well as to all States in a position to do so to provide greater technical assistance to mine affected States. We call upon all States that have not yet done so to ratify or accede to the Convention as soon as possible. The Universalisation of the Convention is a necessary condition to achieve the goal of an anti-personnel mine free world.
The EU has provided assistance to affected States and communities and will continue to do so. For the years 2003 to 2005, the EU Member States and the European Community allocated over 530 million Euros for mine action. Speaking on behalf of the EU, we would like to point to the European Community's strategy (in particular its strategy for the years 2005-2007) which, in light of our goal of ensuring there are no more anti-personnel mine victims, seeks to reduce the threat of landmines on the ground and in stockpiles by offering social, economic and medical assistance to local populations affected and to the victims of landmines. The EU as a whole will continue to support humanitarian mine action focused on the poorest mine affected countries. We will continue to work to improve the effectiveness of the international mine action system.
It was one of my predecessors as Permanent Representative of Germany to this Conference, Ambassador Günter Seibert, then Special Coordinator on the review of the agenda, who noted in 2001 that the flexibility of the CD -- gained by the regular statement by the President that it was his understanding that if there was a consensus in the Conference to deal with any issues they could be dealt with within this agenda -- also pertained to agenda item 6 of the traditional CD Agenda. This has lead to the apparent general understanding that any disarmament issue could be subsumed under this item, if the Conference so decided. And it is in this way, that the EU perceives the remarks by the Coordinator for this agenda item with regard to his proposed work plan.
In this spirit I would like to use this opportunity to reiterate the EU’s position on the pressing issue of an Arms Trade Treaty.
At the 61st UN General Assembly the EU through co-sponsorship gave its unequivocal support to the Resolution A/RES/61/89 entitled “Towards an arms trade treaty: establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms“.
The EU maintains that it is high time to establish this kind of standards: Every day, and everywhere, people are affected by effects of irresponsible arms transfers. The negative impact on peace, reconstruction, security, stability, human rights and sustainable development is especially damaging to developing countries, in particular in Africa. In addition, irresponsible arms transfers divert scarce resources from vital poverty alleviation and other developmental work. The EU has noted that there is a strong call from a number of the world's political, as well as spiritual leaders, States, and civil society for the establishment of a new treaty to better regulate the trade in arms.
As there is currently no comprehensive internationally binding instrument available to provide an agreed regulatory framework for this activity, the EU welcomes the growing support, in all parts of the world, for an ATT, which is well documented by the overwhelming majority in the UN General Assembly for the adoption of the resolution mentioned above. Binding standards, consistent with the existing responsibilities of States under relevant international law, would be critical in dealing with the issue of the irresponsible trade in conventional arms, which has particularly dire consequences in some of the most vulnerable parts of the world.
The EU considers that starting a comprehensive formal process to this end within the UN framework at the earliest opportunity is called for and views the resolution as providing the basis for this. The EU and its Member States will therefore positively respond to the inquiry of the Secretary-General seeking the views of Member States on the feasibility, scope and draft parameters for a comprehensive, legally binding instrument establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms, as foreseen in operative paragraph 1 of the resolution. We encourage all CD partners to do the same before the end of April this year.
Mr. President, Mr Coordinator
The EU is interested to hear the views of other CD Members on this issue and on other issues falling under this agenda item. We are ready to contribute constructively to the discussion and we call on all Members of the CD to enter the discussions in the same spirit. We should come to the discussions with an open mind, ready to listen.
Thank you, Mr´. President.