Speech of Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger at the High-level Meeting on "Revitalizing the Work of the Conference on Disarmament and Taking Forward Multilateral Disarmament Negotiations"
H. E. Mr. Michael Spindelegger
Federal Minister for European and International Affairs of the Republic of Austria
High-level Meeting on
“Revitalizing the Work of the Conference on Disarmament and Taking Forward Multilateral Disarmament Negotiations”
New York, 24th September 2010
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Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen!
Let me start by congratulating you, Mr. Secretary General, for convening this meeting today to discuss vital disarmament questions. Belgium will present the position of the European Union shortly. Let me add two points from Austria’s perspective:
We have reached a turning point in the field of nuclear disarmament. Over the past year
- the UN Security Council met as a Summit on Nuclear Disarmament and Non-proliferation;
- the START follow-on Treaty was signed;
- the NPT Review Conference agreed to strive for a world free of nuclear weapons and adopted a forward looking Action Plan.
Clearly, there is a new momentum, a positive atmosphere in international disarmament negotiations. We must use this to address the remaining problems in particular reforming or replacing ineffective or obsolete institutions that threaten to hamper rather than realise our disarmament efforts.
Most urgently we must address the Conference on Disarmament (CD). Blocked for more than a dozen years the CD has become irrelevant. It now faces becoming obsolete. This is no “last warning”. It is a simple fact.
I commend this initiative of the Secretary General to seek political agreement to save the CD. This organisation has done valuable work in the past. Austria would prefer to continue working in and through the CD. But if this organization is not able to immediately reform its working methods to enable actual progress, we must look for alternatives.
What does this mean in concrete terms? Unless work commences by the end of the next CD-session, all work should be suspended in the CD. The General Assembly should then identify or establish a forum in order to proceed with the most pressing issues.
What are these issues? Since the NPT Review Conference, we now have a clear commitment to achieve a world without nuclear weapons. This is a decisive step which takes our efforts for the elimination of nuclear weapons to a new level. If we take our commitment seriously, we must begin discussing the parameters that will enable us to reach and maintain Global Zero and we must begin putting in place the central components, such as a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT). The groundwork for this discussion has already been prepared by the Secretary-General with his Five-Point-Proposal. I know from consultations with partners that his objectives are supported by a Core Group of States. I welcome that support for this proposal is growing rapidly.
After the NPT Review Conference the central question is not when to begin the process of pursuing the legal foundations for a world without nuclear weapons. This process has already begun. We now need to identify the appropriate sequencing of steps; find the best partners and institutions in order to proceed in the most effective manner. In Austria’s view civil society will assume a paramount role in the process. To this effect Austria supports the establishment of a Competence Centre for Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation in Vienna. This Centre will act as a hub, a platform for independent expertise, monitoring and advocacy regarding nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
If we all work together – civil society, governments and international organizations – I am confident that we will make progress. This will take time but if we remain dedicated, true to our goal and commitments, we will succeed in creating the framework for a safe world without nuclear weapons for the coming generations.