[Disarmament] Conference on Disarmament
First of all, I would like to congratulate you on your assumption of the Presidency and assure you of the full cooperation of the Austrian delegation. We also appreciate your efforts already undertaken to advance the Conference towards starting to work and we thank you for your proposal for a programme of work circulated yesterday that we will examine carefully. We would like to extend our special gratitude to Ambassador Hoffmann for his untiring efforts in his capacity as last year’s concluding President, to ensure a report to the UN General Assembly as significant as it was possible, under the circumstances. At the outset, we align ourselves with the statement delivered on behalf of the European Union on 22 January.
The last session of the General Assembly was remarkable for the clear message expressed by the overwhelming majority of UN member states that deadlock in multilateral disarmament negotiations is not acceptable and may no longer masquerade as a temporary crisis. This was echoed in the address of the United Nations Secretary General to this Conference of last week, who recalled that “in this field, as we well know, a standstill does not exist; if you do not go forward, you go backward.” We hope that the Conference on Disarmament will respond to these expressions of urgency and that the necessary political will to commence work will emerge without further delay and lead to the adoption and, more importantly, the implementation of a programme of work. At the same time, we expect that the General Assembly resolutions 67/53 and 67/56 aiming at promoting substantive work on key issues of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation agenda, as well as the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament to be convened in September 2013, will contribute to progress during this year.
Austria has been supporting all three resolutions, which in our view constitute serious attempts to bring dynamics back into multilateral disarmament negotiations.
As one of the initiators of resolution 67/56, we particularly welcome the establishing of a General Assembly Open-ended Working Group to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations. In our view, this working group provides all states with a fresh opportunity to put forward their views, expectations and proposals; it also gives us the chance to work in a comprehensive mode, on an equal footing of all UN member states, as well as to benefit from a stronger interaction with international organizations and civil society. We hope that all who say that they endorse these objectives will use the opportunity and contribute their views to the working group.
Austria prioritizes multilateralism as key to international progress on disarmament and non-proliferation matters. This is why we have been contributing continuously to the debate with our ideas and proposals on how to turn disarmament commitments on the multilateral agenda into measurable progress.
Worst case, in our view, would be to continue on the current path of erosion of the disarmament regime and, for that matter, of the disarmament machinery. It remains our primary and collective responsibility to ensure substantive progress.