Delegates Dismayed that Landmark Treaty Has Not Yet Entered into Force, as General Assembly Observes International Day against Nuclear Tests

Remember Victims of ‘Disastrous’ Testing Era, Stresses Secretary-General, as Kazakhstan Urges ‘Remaining Minority’ to Ratify Instrument

Commemorating the International Day against Nuclear Tests today, delegates in the General Assembly evoked the catastrophic consequences and suffering caused by the testing and use of nuclear weapons, as they urged countries that have not done so to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres emphasized the importance of remembering victims of the disastrous era of nuclear testing, saying that its catastrophic consequences have had a serious impact on human health and the environment. Nuclear tests conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have demonstrated that every effort must be made to ensure the Treaty enters into force, he added.

The Treaty puts a brake on the nuclear arms race and a barrier on those States that seek to develop nuclear weapons, he continued. Yet more than 20 years since the conclusion of negotiations, the Treaty has yet to enter into force. He appealed to the eight States whose signature is required for the Treaty’s entry into force to ratify the instrument.

General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak (Slovakia) underlined the huge price paid for the testing and use of nuclear weapons, pointing out that, in addition to cancer, disability and death, nuclear testing also presents a major political risk. Simply put, these tests do not build trust, he said, adding: They bring us closer to the brink.

Today’s meeting is vital for the planet and humanity, Mr. Lajcak emphasized, also highlighting the hopeful recent developments on the Korean Peninsula. Recalling that tensions were high in 2017 and many feared the worst, he said, now, we see an opportunity, commending the efforts of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea and the United States.

Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, said that Kazakhstan’s leading role in nuclear disarmament and its decision to close all nuclear test sites on its territory are highly commendable. Noting that nuclear testing has fuelled the nuclear arms race since the dawn of the atomic age, he said 183 States have signed the Treaty, only 3 countries have violated the norm since 1996, and only 1 country has tested a nuclear weapon this century.

The Treaty is a core element of the international nuclear testing regime, he continued, describing the instrument as a most practical and necessary step towards a nuclear weapons free world. He welcomed the decision by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to close its nuclear testing site, while noting that more work remains. Looking back over the years, one would be forgiven for harbouring a sense of despair over trends in international peace and security, he said, adding that a most sensible step towards securing a peaceful future is to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Karipbek Kuyukov, Honorary Ambassador of the ATOM Project, shared his life account of the devastating consequences of nuclear weapons. He said that he was born in 1968 without arms into an ordinary Kazakh family in a small village, located 100 kilometres from the former nuclear test site at Semipalatinsk. The USSR [Union of Soviet Socialist Republics] carried out its first tests of nuclear weapons there, and a thousand families � ethnic Kazakhs living on the land allocated for the test site � fell hostage to radiation exposure, he said. My family still remembers how our house was shaken when a radiation wave from the regular explosion passed under us, he added, calling upon leaders of all countries to sign and ratify the Treaty.

Lazarus Amayo (Kenya), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said nuclear testing has had devastating effects on humanity and the environment, expressing support for the principle of complete nuclear disarmament as the utmost prerequisite for international peace and security. The African Group is deeply concerned about the slow pace of progress towards the elimination of all nuclear weapons. Calling upon all States to work towards the actualization of the Treaty’s goals, he also underlined the inalienable rights of States to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Kaha Imnadze (Georgia), speaking on behalf of the Eastern European States, said the world has witnessed the immense and tragic consequences of nuclear testing, yet despite all efforts and commitments, the threat of testing remains a major challenge. He urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, stressing that a safe and peaceful world is a world free of nuclear tests.

Khalifa Ali Issa al Harthy (Oman), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, refuted the notion that the possession of nuclear weapons is a deterrent to war. Although the Middle East is a region of much tension and instability, Arab countries have demonstrated their commitment to the implementation of a verification system, he said, pointing out that, meanwhile, Israel continues to defy the will of the international community by refusing to respect the rules defined by the Treaty.

Gillian Bird (Australia), speaking on behalf of the Friends of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, said that the very existence of this International Day is a testament to the de facto norm against nuclear testing. Welcoming advances made by the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization in ensuring that the instrument’s verification regime is robust and world class, she urged all States that have not yet done so, especially the remaining eight Annex 2 States, to sign and ratify the Treaty without delay.

Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. (Philippines), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), denounced the conduct of nuclear-weapon testing or any other nuclear explosions. He reiterated ASEAN’s commitment to remaining a zone free of nuclear weapons and all weapons of mass destruction. As specified under article 3 of the Bangkok Treaty, each State party undertakes not to allow, anywhere inside its territory, the testing or use of nuclear weapons. He also welcomed the inter Korean summits as well as the summit between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Joanne Adamson of the European Union delegation said the response of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization to the six nuclear tests conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea demonstrated its invaluable role in quickly providing reliable and independent data, thereby enabling the international community to react appropriately and swiftly. As a strong supporter of the international nuclear non proliferation and disarmament regime, the European Union hopes that the positive momentum will bring about tangible progress leading to the verifiable closure of that country’s nuclear test sites. Noting that all of the bloc’s member States have signed and ratified the Treaty, she added that the International Day highlights the urgent need for the Treaty’s entry into force.

Kairat Umarov (Kazakhstan) recalled the Soviet nuclear tests conducted on his country’s territory, pointing out that more than 1.5 million Kazakh victims are still experiencing the horrors today. By celebrating the International Day, Kazakhstan raises its voice for its own victims as well as those in Japan, the Marshall Islands and all the other places where people have suffered and continue to suffer. Nuclear weapons are incompatible with a peaceful and secure future, he emphasized. No one in the world should have to repeat and suffer like we have, he added, urging the remaining minority to ratify the Treaty.

Many other speakers welcomed advances made by the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization. Masud Bin Momen (Bangladesh) commended its building of a strong verification regime by developing and effectively maintaining a system capable of quickly detecting a nuclear explosion. Vitavas Srivihok (Thailand) said that in a few weeks, his country will deposit the instruments of ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. The Government of Thailand will continue to do its part to contribute to the verification regime by hosting two international monitoring stations and supporting the mutually reinforcing links between the Treaty and other related instruments.

Mohammed Hussein Bahr Aluloom (Iraq) called for strict measures to prevent terrorists and armed groups from getting their hands on nuclear weapons. Anayansi Rodriguez Camejo (Cuba) expressed concern over the growing role of nuclear weapons in the military and defence sectors. It is alarming that nuclear weapons States continue to develop new nuclear weapons, she added. Echoing a similar sentiment, Rodrigo Alberto Carazo Zeledon (Costa Rica) rejected the premise that nuclear weapons contribute to security. It is essential to comply with international non proliferation obligations, especially in the current international situation, he stressed. In a similar vein, Gholamali Khoshroo (Iran) said that, at a time when all those in possession of nuclear weapons have plans to further modernize and upgrade, ending the testing of nuclear weapons is of the utmost importance. Nuclear weapons tests must be prohibited, including through simulation by supercomputers and subcritical testing.

Satyendra Prasad (Fiji) said that his country has witnessed the terrifying and tragic effects of nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific region. The health problems that Fiji and many other Pacific countries face as a result, the effects on marine life, and the impact on fragile subsea structures, remain largely unknown and poorly researched, he emphasized, pointing out that around 300 nuclear tests took place in French Polynesia between 1966 and 1974, and there is clear evidence of suffering all around among that Territory’s communities.

Also speaking today were representatives of Austria, Italy, Belgium, Mexico, Nigeria, El Salvador, China, South Africa, Indonesia, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Peru, as well as the Holy See.

Source: United Nations



Speakers Debate Inclusion of Technology Transfer, Capacity-Building in Marine Biodiversity Treaty Draft, as Intergovernmental Conference Continues

The question of whether the world’s first treaty to conserve and protect marine diversity on the high seas should include an indicative and non exhaustive list of types of capacity building and transfer of technology dominated today’s discussions at the intergovernmental conference tasked with drafting that legally binding instrument.

Most delegations which took the floor spoke in favour of embedding such a list in a treaty governing marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. Others, notably from developed nations, said they are open to the idea, so long as it does not imply obligations or undermine intellectual property rights.

Egypt’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, opened the discussion, saying States parties should have the primary role in a drawn up list of activities to be included in the capacity building section of the proposed instrument. Cataloguing what could be on that list, he emphasized that capacity building and technology transfer should be carried out in a fair and reasonable manner that does not undermine or duplicate existing instruments and mechanisms.

Picking up on that viewpoint, the representative of the Maldives, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, said that, given ongoing technological developments and the evolution of nations, the list should be non exhaustive, flexible and based on the objectives of the new instrument. He added that capacity building and marine technology transfer should be open to all stakeholders, including civil society, and not just Governments.

Algeria’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the list should strike a balance between the protection of intellectual property rights and the promotion of technology. He went on to ponder how, without meaningful capacity building and technology transfer, States parties to the instrument will be able to implement it and what its added value will be.

The European Union’s delegate, also emphasizing flexibility, said the new instrument should capture the material, human resource and knowledge sharing dimensions of capacity building. Regarding the terms and conditions for technology transfer, he said the bloc agrees with the United States, among other developed countries, that it should be voluntary and based on mutually agreed terms. He added that it will be hard for his delegation if the duty to transfer technology suddenly shifts to an unconditional obligation.

The representative of Mexico said training � ranging from workshops and scholarships to participation in field work � is a priority issue for his country. Like several other delegations, he proposed that a clearing house be established that will enable States parties to exchange knowledge and technology. He added that any list of types of capacity building and technology transfer should include a review mechanism to ensure that the list does not become obsolete over time.

The representative of Mauritius made the case for a mechanism that helps Member States identify their own capacity building and technology transfer needs. Stressing the importance of capacity development in lieu of capacity building, he noted that while developing countries might receive equipment donations, they might be hard pressed to have enough qualified people to operate it. Such situations called for intensive training regimes, he said, suggesting also a provision to address the training of trainers.

Canada’s delegate said he favours the drafting of a non exhaustive list. In doing so, however, he cautioned that the Commission must bear in mind that it will be difficult to change, given that it will be part of a legally binding treaty. He added that International Oceanographic Commission criteria and guidelines will be a good starting point for further discussions.

From the South Pacific, the representative of Tonga spoke in support of a non exhaustive list that builds on existing provisions in the Convention on the Law of the Sea and the work of the International Oceanographic Commission. Emphasizing the need for States to translate science into effective policy, she suggested that a clearing house mechanism be Internet based.

The representative of the United States said his delegation is not fully decided on whether a list is needed or not. If one is included in the new instrument, however, he said it should be non binding, setting out broad categories only at an overarching level. He added that the United States will not support any restrictions that discourage research and development. Meanwhile, he said, capacity building and technology transfer regarding environmental impact assessments should focus on information sharing.

He went on to say that the United States will support a clearing house for environmental impact assessment manuals that can be used as a reference library. In that context, he said the conference might need to explore the protection of non public information on the grounds of, for instance, national security. On terms and conditions, he added, the United States supports the inclusion of provisions on marine technology transfer so long as such transfers are voluntary and based on agreed terms and conditions.

Singapore’s delegate emphasized the need to strike a balance between knowledge sharing and the protection of intellectual property rights. Nothing in the new instrument must undermine the latter, he added.

The representative of Palau said scientific information must be translated in a way that policymakers can understand. If the new instrument has no list, there should be an effort to draft them at the regional level. She added that capacity-building should be niche driven and not limited to States only.

The Republic of Korea’s delegate said his country has doubts about putting a list in an international legally binding instrument, especially if that list implied obligations. Capacity building and technology transfer should be carried out on a voluntary basis, he said, suggesting that it might be better for the new instrument to establish a mandate for drafting a list.

Towards the end of the day, the conference discussed how a capacity building and technology transfer mechanism might be funded. Speakers � including Egypt (on behalf of the Group of 77), Maldives (on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States) and Nauru (on behalf of the Pacific small island developing States) emphasized the need for a sustainable and predictable funding mechanism that could be complemented with a voluntary trust fund.

Taking a different view, the European Union’s representative said the bloc is not in favour of a new funding mechanism. While there might be merit in creating a voluntary trust fund to help developed countries attend meetings, he said capacity building and technology transfer should be financed based on existing public and private sources.

The representative of the United States said his delegation is open to discussing a voluntary trust fund. It does not, however, support a mandatory fund.

In the same vein, the Russian Federation’s delegate said a voluntary fund is something his side is ready to consider. But it cannot support mandatory contributions.

The representative of Mauritius suggested that the private sector � including the shipping and insurance industries which profit from the high seas � could pay into a trust fund in a display of global corporate responsibility.

In addition, the conference also took up the question of how the new instrument will address the issue of monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of capacity building and the transfer of marine technology activities.

Also speaking today were representatives of Bangladesh (on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries), Saint Lucia (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Fiji, Mauritius, Federated States of Micronesia, Norway, Canada, Jamaica, Australia, Russian Federation, China, Republic of Korea, Philippines, Paraguay, Monaco, Nigeria, Colombia, Switzerland, Sri Lanka, Iran, Algeria, Malaysia, Bahamas and Japan, as well as the Holy See.

Representatives of the International Seabed Authority, International Oceanographic Commission, International Maritime Organization (IMO), International Council of Environmental Law and the Convention on Biological Diversity also spoke.

In other business today, the conference � in one round of voting � elected the Bahamas, Mexico and Brazil as its Vice Presidents from the Latin American and Caribbean Group, completing the composition of its Bureau.

In its resolution 72/249 of 24 December 2017, the General Assembly decided to convene the intergovernmental conference � under United Nations auspices � to consider the recommendations of the Preparatory Committee established by resolution 69/292 of 19 June 2015 on the elements and to elaborate the text of an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, with a view to developing the instrument as soon as possible.

Following the current inaugural meeting, which ends on 17 September, the conference will hold a second and third session in 2019 and a fourth and last session in the first half of 2020.

The conference will meet again on Friday, 7 September to continue its work.

Source: United Nations