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Statement to the CD 15 February 2005

Statement to the Conference on Disarmament by H.E. Mr. Wegger Chr. Strømmen, Ambassador, Permanent representative of Norway to the United Nations office in Geneva and the Conference on Disarmament Geneva, 15 February 2005

I congratulate you on the dedication and skill with which you perform your duties as President. Norway appreciates highly your vigorous approach to the important task that is before this Conference: to overcome the stalemate that for many years has prevented it from carrying out its mandate.

We were interested by South Africa’s statement on 1 February, where it was pointed out that it may become necessary to consider an alternative course of action if we this year again fail to start negotiations.

This question is not new, nor is our interest in it. It was discussed at a workshop organised in Oslo in December of 2003 on revitalising the disarmament machinery. Our conclusions from the workshop were conveyed to the CD in January last year. They refer to the possibility of organising plenary meetings only when there is a real need. The conclusions also include a reference to lack of political will to use the CD as intended as the cause of the present situation.

If there is indeed no activity in sight for this body, consequences should be drawn. The possibility I just set out merits serious consideration. No decisions are required, and there would be no practical obstacle to convening meetings as soon as there is a reason to do that.

Mr. President,
Your efforts to consult on a programme of work are welcome.

Norway has transmitted its positions to you, and has set them out in informal discussions in this body. We do, however, fully share the views expressed by my distinguished colleague from New Zealand recently on the importance of carrying out deliberations in open and public sessions of this Conference. For the sake of transparency, I will take a minute to briefly review our positions.

We think it should be possible for the CD to establish three or four subsidiary bodies and mandates. Norway’s first priority remains the start of negotiations with a view to achieving a verifiable treaty to stop the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons purposes. A change in the Shannon mandate is at the outset not desirable, nor does there seem to be support for it. We are, however, hopeful that several options can considered by all interested delegations.

On issues relating to landmines, we do not consider the CD to be the right forum, as many of the mine-affected countries are not represented. Furthermore, we would not wish to distinguish between different types of anti-personnel mines, as that could weaken the norm set by the Mine Ban Convention.

Discussion mandates on, respectively, prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS) and nuclear disarmament would be a logical step. We would find it unfortunate if the question about negative security assurances should block the possibility for agreement on the CDs programme of work.

It should be possible to begin preparatory work on substance at the technical level. That would be a natural follow-up to the informal discussions on substantive issues that were conducted last year.

Mr. President
Although we support and encourage your consultations on a programme of work, we realise that there is a limit to what can be achieved by efforts in this room. Let me reiterate a point that has been made several times, by my own as well as other delegations: The solution to the current situation will only come from capitals. 

The demand for action by the Conference on Disarmament is increasing. The Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty is around the corner, and may benefit if the CD commences work on substantive issues important to the non-proliferation regime, like a fissile material cut-off treaty. 

In addition to a range of resolutions from the UN General Assembly and clear messages from governments and civil society; the UN Secretary-General´s high-level panel on threats, challenges and change recently delivered a report that places great emphasis on disarmament matters. Norway was happy to see a number of clear recommendations from the Panel to restart nuclear disarmament, and to prevent further proliferation on weapons of mass destruction. One of the recommendations from the Panel was for this Conference to move without further delay to negotiate a verifiable fissile material cut-off treaty.

At the beginning of this year’s Session, the UN Secretary-General called upon the Members of the Conference to seriously consider the Panel’s recommendations. Let me round off my first statement to the CD by reiterating his message.
I look forward to working together with you, Mr. President, and all other colleagues to meet the challenges posed by today’s global security situation. I wish you the best of luck for the rest of your tenure, and pledge my delegation’s full cooperation.

Thank you.

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