New York, 24 September 2010 Press release

Spindelegger: “Overcoming outdated working practices in disarmament”

Austria’s Foreign Minister advocates the establishment of a competence centre for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation in Vienna

New York, 24 September 2010 – “Some of our disarmament tools are outmoded and inefficient. We must either subject them to a complete overhaul, or replace them with better tools,” stated Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger, speaking today on the margins of a high-ranking disarmament meeting at the United Nations under the auspices of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. “This year has shown that attitudes have shifted, step by step, as far as global disarmament negotiations are concerned. The international community of states has returned to constructive dialogue, in the pursuit of a world without nuclear weapons. This momentum should be leveraged. I therefore welcome the initiative of the UN Secretary-General in relation to reforming the methods and institutions engaged in international disarmament diplomacy.”

The high-ranking disarmament meeting was attended by more than fifty foreign ministers. Discussions focused on the UN Disarmament Conference in Geneva, at which any substantial negotiations have been prevented by mutual blockades for the past twelve years. “Following the successful review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in May 2010, with Austria chairing the nuclear disarmament negotiations, there is finally hope that structural shortcomings and outdated working practices can be overcome. But we must be prepared to take some tough decisions in these efforts,” emphasised Spindelegger. “If we want new stimuli, we must find new platforms, and if the Geneva Disarmament Conference is against reform, we must seriously think about institutional alternatives. The successful disarmament processes of the past in such fields as mines and cluster munitions may serve as valuable examples,” continued Spindelegger.

In preparing the meeting, Austria, speaking on behalf of a core group of states committed to a legal ban on nuclear weapons, had provided the UN Secretary-General with a number of proposals. “I am glad that numerous Austrian proposals have been accepted and included in the process. In future, Austria will continue to put forward initiatives in order to achieve progress in the field of disarmament. I hope, for instance, that next year will see the opening of a Vienna-based, independent competence centre for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, which would decisively improve co-operation between states, international organisations and civil society. This would constitute an important contribution to achieving our goal of a world free from nuclear weapons,” concluded Spindelegger.

On 23 September, Foreign Minister Spindelegger had participated in a high-ranking UN meeting aimed at rendering political support for swift entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

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