Statement by H.E. Ambassador Kazuyoshi Umemoto
UN Disarmament Commission 2014
Draft Statement by Japan
April 7, 2014
At the outset, I would like to congratulate you, His Excellency Ambassador Vladimir Dronjak of Croatia, on your assumption of the Chairmanship of the United Nations Disarmament Commission (UNDC) and the newly elected members of the UNDC Bureau. I assure you and the Bureau members the full support and cooperation of my delegation.
The UNDC was once renowned as the leading deliberative UN body in the field of disarmament, while the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva was established as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum. However, both bodies have failed to fulfill their mandates.
Although the UNDC has in the past adopted 16 consensus documents on guidelines and recommendations, including the well-known “Guidelines for the Establishment of Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones”, it has remained in deadlock for nearly 15 years now. This year, the final year of the current three-year cycle, the UN Member States are supposed to come up with a consensus document that would guide us to further disarmament. Although Japan will actively contribute to the conclusion of this year’s UNDC, the lack of yet another substantive outcome in this body would put its raison d’etre into serious question.
Here I would like to mention another challenge to international efforts in the disarmament and non-proliferation field. In spite of the repeated adoption of UN Security Council resolutions on nuclear and missile activities by the DPRK, the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime based on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) continues to face serious challenges, including numerous cases of outright violations. In this context, the recent ballistic missile launches conducted by the DPRK are clear violations of UN Security Council resolutions and should be condemned.
In January of this year, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, Mr. Fumio Kishida, delivered a speech in Nagasaki on Japan’s nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation policy. In his address, Minister Kishida explained that nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation efforts should be built upon the following two notions. First, we should have a clear understanding of the humanitarian aspect of nuclear weapons as a point of departure for these efforts. Second, we should objectively assess the reality of today’s international community which faces increasingly diverse nuclear risks. From these two understandings, we conclude that steady but tireless efforts to build up practical and concrete measures are actually the shortest path to achieving our common goal.
Political engagement is indispensable to the success of our efforts. Hence, twelve cross-regional members of the Non-proliferation and Disarmament Initiative or NPDI, including my own country, are committed to the group’s activities at the ministerial level. The NPDI is an action-oriented group putting forward concrete proposals such as a draft standard reporting form on transparency of nuclear weapons.
Within a few days, on the 11th and 12th of April, Foreign Ministers of the NPDI will meet in Hiroshima. Japan intends to have the ministers directly see and sense the realities caused by the bombings during the course of the meeting. They will exchange views on various issues, including nuclear disarmament in the post New START Treaty era and its increased transparency, de-alerting, humanitarian aspects, a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear security. The ministers will aim to present useful proposals for the Third Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 NPT Review Conference which will begin later this month here in New York.
As the only country ever to have suffered from nuclear bombings, Japan understands the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that result. Thus, Japan has proactively contributed to discussions on this issue.
I would like to reiterate that in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation efforts, a clear understanding of humanitarian consequences caused by the use of nuclear weapons should underpin all efforts to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. In other words, the humanitarian aspect of disarmament should function as a driving force for our efforts in a way inclusive and open to all States towards a world free of nuclear weapons.
In 2015, we will commemorate the 70th year since atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is my sincere desire that the steady implementation of practical and effective disarmament measures, including through substantive work of the 2015 NPT Review Conference, will achieve a step forward to a world free of nuclear weapons. I invite all colleagues to visit the Permanent Exhibition on the Atomic Bombings in this UN building.
Addressing the enormous damage caused by conventional arms continues to be of utmost importance for the international community. This is the area in which UN leadership is needed. Japan has been supportive of the greater role of the UN in this field since we proposed the establishment of the UN Register for Conventional Arms. In this regard, I would like to refer to two significant challenges UN Member States must confront in coming months.
First, the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and its opening for signature, marks a significant milestone for the world. Now the challenge ahead is to make this Treaty a reality by its early entry into force. Japan signed this Treaty on 3rd June last year, a date which was opened for its signing. We submitted this Treaty to the National Diet last January with a determination to conclude it at the earliest date. In particular, the conclusion by principal arms trade countries is essential. Japan wants to reiterate our call to those countries which have not yet done so, to sign without delay and make the utmost efforts for their conclusion. As one of the original co-author states of the resolution that began the ATT process, Japan will continue to work hard with other governments and civil society to achieve early entry into force and effective implementation of the Treaty.
Second, the Fifth Biennial Meeting of States (5BMS) to Consider the Implementation of the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons will provide an important opportunity to advance efforts by the UN to tackle the enduring problem of the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons. Based on the agreement arrived at the successful 2012 Review Conference on the Plan of Action (PoA), we are expected to deepen our discussion on preventative measures on stockpile management, marking and tracing, as well as international cooperation and assistance. Japan highly commends Ambassador Tanin, Chair-designate of the 5BMS for the transparent and efficient manner in which he has been conducting preparatory work towards the Conference in June. Japan will continue to be engaged actively in its work towards a successful outcome at the 5BMS.
Despite a lack of progress in the UN disarmament machinery, there is still hope. For example, the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on a treaty banning the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices (FMCT), established by a UN General Assembly resolution in 2012, just commenced its substantive work last week in Geneva and is still in the middle of the first session right now. I am quite confident that, upon the completion of its two-years of work in 2015, they will produce substantive recommendations, which would significantly contribute to future negotiations on an FMCT once they commence.
In order to make a positive impact on UN disarmament machinery, including the above-mentioned GGE, surely now is the time for the UNDC to reclaim its mandate and deliberate with a view to producing beneficial guidelines and recommendations. Supported by substantial human and financial resources, expectations of the UNDC to produce results are rightfully high. Providing all the support it can to the Chairperson, Japan will endeavor to ensure that this final year of the three-year cycle leads to a positive outcome.
I thank you, Mr. Chair.