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17 October 2008 - First Committee "Other Weapons of Mass Destruction" - Statement by H.E. Ambassador Eric Danon

63th session of the United Nations General Assembly
Statement by H.E. Ambassador Eric Danon, Permanent Representative of France to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on behalf on the European Union

Mr Chairman,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.

1. The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia1, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Montenegro and Serbia, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.

2. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery calls for a global approach. The risk that terrorists may acquire biological or chemical weapons and their means of delivery adds a further critical dimension to this issue. Cooperation with and in the framework of the United Nations, as well as between all Member States, is thus vitally important in this matter.

3. The European Security Strategy, the EU Strategy against Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and our Common Position of 17 November 2003 on the universalisation and reinforcement of multilateral agreements in the field of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and means of delivery highlight the importance the EU attaches to these threats.

4. The multilateral instruments in the field of weapons of mass destruction in this part of our discussion, namely the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention (BTWC), the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the 1925 Geneva Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare play a key role in reducing this threat. The international community’s commitment to disarmament in the areas covered by these texts and compliance by all parties with all of their provisions are of critical importance for everyone’s security. That is why the European Union is calling for the full universalisation of these instruments, which requires them to be signed and/or ratified by a certain number of States which have not yet done so. Recently the European Union approached 11 countries not yet party to the BTWC on this subject. We also call on all Member States of the United Nations to re﷓examine the possibility of withdrawing any reservations entered upon acceding to the 1925 Protocol.

5. The European Union will continue to give assistance to those States which request it in implementing the various instruments. In particular, in the framework of the Joint Action which was launched in 2006 and completed this year, it has provided technical assistance to States Parties in aligning their national laws with the Biological Weapons Convention. As a follow-up to its action and in order to extend it to other aspects of the Convention, the EU has already initiated the process of adopting a new joint action in support of the BTWC. It is also working on the renewal of the Joint Action of 19 March 2007 on support for the activities of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

6. The European Union has played and will continue to play a key role in the intersessional process launched in 2002 and consolidated at the BTWC Review Conference in December 2006. It is essential that the issues addressed in August at the conference of BTWC experts be reviewed on a regular basis in order to maintain the level of consciousness and vigilance needed to preserve the aims of the Convention. In this sense, the intersessional

7. process, as it functioned this summer and is set to be completed by the forthcoming annual meeting of the States Parties has, once again, played its part perfectly.

8. The Implementation Support Unit (ISU) for the Biological Weapons Convention, whose establishment was desired and supported by the European Union, plays a particularly important role in maintaining the link between the States Parties to the BTWC. Two years after its establishment, the European Union has good reason to feel pleased with it.

9. The information exchange which has taken place on a voluntary basis in the framework of the BTWC via the confidence-building measures (CBMs) has brought major benefits. We call on all States Parties to participate, as do all Member States of the European Union, in this mechanism which serves to strengthen the Convention. The European Union welcomes the fact that participation in the mechanism has increased over the last few years. The European Union is prepared to lend its support to all initiatives designed to encourage the submission of confidence-building measures. For this reason, the new joint action in support of the BTWC contains a section on that objective.

10. More generally, the European Union remains convinced of the necessity and the importance for the international community to discuss and promote common approaches and points of view and to take effective action to achieve optimum implementation of the BTWC. Furthermore, the European Union remains committed to the long-term development of measures to check compliance with the Convention.

Mr Chairman,

11. Today, eleven years after its entry into force, the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is one of the cornerstones of international efforts to eliminate weapons of mass destruction and prevent their proliferation. The CWC is a unique instrument in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation and its strict application must be guaranteed. Its unique character comes from the fact that the CWC is the only convention which bans completely and without exception an entire category of weapons of mass destruction in a way that is non﷓discriminatory and verifiable under strict and effective international control. Furthermore, the general criterion of application, which establishes that the use, stockpiling, storage or transfer of toxic chemical products and their precursors will be prohibited and penalised, except where such a chemical is intended for purposes not prohibited by the Convention and as long as the types and quantities are consistent with such purposes, is one of the key guarantees that the Convention will retain its relevance for dealing with all issues which may arise in future.

12. We emphasise and welcome the fact that the CWC is close to universal membership, with 184 States Parties to date. The European Union calls on all States which have not yet done so to accede without delay to this instrument which is vital for international security.

13. The European Union takes this opportunity to once again congratulate the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on its remarkable success in fulfilling its tasks under the Convention. In this regard, the European Union considers that the OPCW is an example and a source of inspiration for effective multilateralism in the field of non﷓proliferation and disarmament.

14. The Second five-year Review Conference of the CWC, which took place in April 2008, was an important milestone. In preparation for the conference, the European Union adopted a common position in June 2007 setting out its goal, which is still entirely relevant today. The European Union’s objective is to strengthen the CWC and the disarmament and non﷓proliferation regime it establishes, in particular by promoting compliance with the latter, which includes the destruction of all chemical weapons within the established time-limits, and by strengthening its verification scheme and striving for universal accession.

15. The European Union welcomes the positive outcome of this review conference which illustrates the support given to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons by the States Parties to the BTWC and which should enable it, whilst preserving the spirit of consensus, to meet future challenges. We endorse the final report adopted by the conference, which recognises that the Convention sets new standards for disarmament and non﷓proliferation in the world as a result of non-discriminatory and multilateral verification.

16. The European Union considers that it is essential, in the framework defined by the report of the Second Review Conference, to continue to maintain the BTWC’s high verification criteria and to pursue their reinforcement in order to achieve its objectives of non-proliferation and confidence-building. Accordingly, the European Union considers that the BTWC’s verification regime must take account of new scientific, technological and industrial developments in the field of chemistry. In this regard, the Union underlines the role of the verification regime, including the challenge-inspection mechanism, and the need to maintain a high level of preparation within the OPCW Technical Secretariat in order to implement the mechanism, both an as important tool of dissuasion to address the risks of non-compliance with the Convention, and as a means of increasing transparency, confidence and international security.

17. The destruction of all chemical weapons remains a key objective of the CWC. The destruction of existing stockpiles as well as production capacities and the prevention of any future development of chemical weapons represent not only a multilateral commitment but also a contribution against terrorism. The Union welcomes the substantial progress made by those countries which have not yet completed the destruction of their stockpile of weapons. The EU reaffirms that the States Parties are required to destroy their chemical weapons and the relevant production facilities or to convert the latter within the deadlines set by the Convention.

18. The European Union recalls that national implementation of the Convention, particularly through adoption of the relevant national laws, including criminal law, is a key factor for full implementation of the CWC and meeting its aims and its purpose. The European Union continues to be available to provide assistance in this area, as it did previously through its successive Joint Actions in support of the OPCW.

Mr Chairman,

19. The European Union fully supports the action taken under Security Council resolution 1540. From our point of view, resolutions 1540 (2004), 1673 (2006) and 1810 (2008) are fundamental for the development of an effective mechanism to prevent and counter the proliferation of WMD, their means of production and delivery from States to non-State actors worldwide. We urge all States to comply with the legally binding obligations of these texts. In 2008, the European Union renewed the Joint Action it had initiated in support of these instruments.

20. The question of the proliferation of missiles which could be used to deliver weapons of mass destruction is also a matter of major concern in the context of international security. A number of tests of mid-range missiles conducted over the past twelve months outside all the existing transparency and pre-notification schemes, especially by Iran at the beginning of July, deepen our concerns in this respect.

21. The European Union continues to consider that the Hague Code of Conduct (HCOC) represents, with the Missiles Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the best existing tool to deal with the problem of missile proliferation. The EU considers it necessary to reaffirm the clear multilateral and universal purpose of the Code. In this context, the EU will be submitting a draft resolution on the HCOC for examination by the First Committee. 130 States have already subscribed to the Code and the European Union urges all States which have not yet done so to adhere to it as soon as possible. It goes without saying that the authority and effectiveness of the Code depend not only on the sheer number of States subscribing to it but also on our determination to remain committed to its implementation, inter alia by the submission of pre-launch notifications and annual declarations. We take this opportunity to invite all those States which have subscribed to the Code to submit these notifications and declarations and we point out that continued disregard for the provisions initially accepted by States concerned undermines the viability and the functioning of the Code as a whole.

22. Furthermore, the EU would also like ways of reinforcing the campaign against missile proliferation to be examined. In this connection it notes the suggestion, made in a joint Russian-American statement disseminated at the 62nd session of the UN General Assembly, that the overall elimination of all short and medium-range surface-to-surface missiles be discussed, and notes with interest in this context the proposal presented by the President of the French Republic in March 2008 that negotiations be opened on a treaty prohibiting short and medium-range surface-to-surface missiles.

Mr Chairman,

23. The question of space activities has no mandatory link with that of other weapons of mass destruction but there are nevertheless sensitive aspects in respect of which we understand the concerns expressed by a number of States. The EU stresses that the prevention of an arms race in outer space is an essential condition for the strengthening of strategic stability and for the promotion of international cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes. As actors in the field of space, we are particularly sensitive to the issue of the security of space installations and urge all Member States to refrain from undertaking actions likely to undermine it, especially by creating additional debris.

24. In this context, we took note in February 2008 of the tabling by Russia and the People’s Republic of China of a draft treaty on the prevention of the deployment of weapons in outer space and of the threat or use of force against space objects. The Union expressed its view on this issue in detail within the Conference on Disarmament

25. The European Union recognises the need for the development and implementation of confidence-building measures in outer space. The European Union voted unanimously in favour of the General Assembly resolutions on transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities (UNGA Res 62/43) and on prevention of an arms race in outer space (UNGA Res 62/20). It also recently forwarded its joint reply to the Secretary﷓General on the question of international confidence-building and transparency measures in resolution 62/43.

26. For this purpose, with a view to contributing to the strengthening of the good cooperation in the field of space activities, the 27 Member States of the European Union are working on a draft code of conduct for activities in space. We wish to promote the security of space activities through voluntary confidence-building and transparency measures which would be acceptable to the maximum number of States. The development of exchanges of information and good practice will help develop trust and understanding among actors in space, thus making a useful contribution to the long-term viability of activities in space. The European Union hopes soon to be able to propose its draft to the international community, as a contribution from the EU to the preparation of a non-binding international code of conduct for space activities. It also hopes to be able to hold consultations with the spacefaring nations and to present this draft in the relevant fora concerned with space activities.

27. The European Union takes the view that different bodies have a complementary role to play in this field, and in particular the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in Vienna. It welcomes the opportunities for exchanges of views and for sharing experience which have already been organised between these two bodies and calls for them to be continued.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.



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