Statement by Ambassador Kazuo Kodama
Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
At the Meeting of the United Nations Disarmament Commission
3 April 2012
The United Nations Disarmament Commission (UNDC) adopted sixteen guidelines and recommendations prior to 1999, and has played a leading role in the field of disarmament as a deliberative body. However, for more than a decade, the UNDC has not produced many visible outcomes and has failed to make a substantive contribution in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation. In this regard, we fully share the view expressed by the Chairman in his letter dated 27 March that a lack of political will cannot be an excuse for a continuing stalemate in the UNDC, given its role as a deliberative body to bridge the diverging views of Member States in negotiations.
In light of its universal representation, the UNDC has an important role as a venue where UN Member States can hold candid discussions on specific ideas in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation. Japan strongly supports the Chairman’s leadership to revitalize the UNDC. In order to assist the efforts of the Chairman and to facilitate the discussion among Member States, Japan intends shortly to submit a working paper. We hope this will assist Member States not only to reach a consensus on the agenda items but also to engage on substantive issues, even in this year’s session.
(The role of the UNDC from the broader perspective)
The success of the 2010 NPT Review Conference has built momentum for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. However, once again this year the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva failed to adopt a program of work, and there are still no prospects for the commencement of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FCMT). With the international conference on establishing a Weapons of Mass Destruction-Free Zone in the Middle East scheduled for this year, we should spare no effort to build momentum for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation within the UNDC as well. In setting the agenda for the UNDC, we must examine what kind of substantive input will be of greatest benefit over this next three-year cycle with respect to the UNDC’s relationship to other fora and as we look ahead to the 2015 NPT Review Conference. In this regard, Japan strongly supports the specific ideas presented by Poland in its working paper, which give us clear guidance as to how the UNDC can produce tangible results.
(Substantive agenda to be discussed at the UNDC)
In the field of nuclear disarmament, while disarmament efforts by some Nuclear Weapon States, including the New START Treaty between the United States and Russia, are under way, the reality is that we still have a long way to go before we achieve a world without nuclear weapons. The positive momentum of the 2010 NPT Review Conference and the recent Seoul Nuclear Security Summit stands in contrast to the continuing proliferation of nuclear materials and nuclear technology and the great threat it poses to individual regions as well as to the world at large. Although sanctions based on UN Security Council resolutions have been implemented, various instances of violations continue to be reported. Efforts not only towards disarmament but also towards non-proliferation are essential. In this connection, we believe that the UNDC should address the issue of non-proliferation and disarmament at the same level. Furthermore, in light of the Chairman’s significant expertise in disarmament and non-proliferation, elements such as regional cooperation, which includes the concept of nuclear-weapons-free zone treaties, warrant due consideration.
In addition to the pressing issues of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, issues related to conventional arms also requires due consideration. This is an important year for arms control, as the negotiating conference for an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and the Review Conference on the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons are both to take place. Japan believes that, given the universal representation within the UNDC, it is meaningful for us to engage in discussion on arms control for conventional weapons, which pose a tangible threat to a great number of countries. Japan welcomes the Chairman’s idea to deepen our discussions on improving the role of the UN Regional Center for Peace and Disarmament as well as on measures to build confidence among Member States in the field of conventional weapons.
Japan believes that this year’s UNDC should also engage in a broader discussion which encompasses the widest possible interests of Member States. In this regard, we believe that the strengthening of the functioning of the UNDC as a deliberative body on disarmament and non-proliferation would be an appropriate subject for discussion. It is our view that such an agenda item would also incorporate the strong desire expressed by Member States of the Non-Aligned Movement to consider the effectiveness of the UNDC in a broader context. We also believe such discussion could also take in the issues to be raised in the context of the Fourth Disarmament Decade and the UN Special Session on Disarmament. The UNDC should also seek to determine how it can play a useful role among various fora that deal with issues related to disarmament and non-proliferation. Even if we are not able to reach a common view on this subject, the UNDC should at least express its own understanding of the situation through such ways as the Chairman’s summary of the discussion.
This year’s deliberations at the UNDC come at an important juncture, which has been described as a watershed moment to determine whether we will be able to carry out meaningful discussion over the course of the next three-year cycle. Japan will extend its full support to the Chairman and contribute to the deliberation in order that the UNDC can produce beneficial guidelines and recommendations on disarmament and non-proliferation, in accordance with its original mandate.
Thank you for your attention.