Statement delivered by H.E. Mrs Sarala Fernando, Ambassador/Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka at the Plenary of the Conference on Disarmament 15th August, 2006

Mr. President,


Since this is the first time my delegation is taking the floor under your Presidency, may I extend our sincere felicitations and commend  the serious manner in which your Presidency has been prepared, with wide consultations and also for your initiative of organising the seminar by UNIDIR on negative security assurances, an important topic which continues to engage our attention.   You quite rightly reminded us in your opening statement that the issue of negative security assurances has figured from earliest times on the agenda of the Committee on Disarmament since its creation in 1979 and subsequently in the renamed Conference on Disarmament due to their continued significance as a confidence building measure.  We also appreciate the impressive compilation of the documents on NSA’s put together by the Secretariat and distributed in the Conference.    


Please be assured, Mr. President, of the full support of my delegation and myself personally as a Friend of the President to contribute to the successful conclusion of your undertaking.


The period of your Presidency, also coincides with a time of increased high level recognition of the relevance and role of the Conference on Disarmament.  The UN Secretary  General in his address to the Conference in June referred to the ‘collective power’ of the Conference on Disarmament ‘to wake up the world to the dangers of the proliferation of nuclear weapons;  Mr. Annan also referred to the historic destiny of the Conference and its challenge to rise to the ‘security part of the mission of the United Nations in the 21st century’.  The G8 in its St. Petersburg statement of July 16th  on non-proliferation reiterated its commitment to the “reinvigoration of relevant multilateral fora beginning with the Conference on Disarmament”.


The Secretary General’s address made the point that the new ‘momentum’ in the Conference this year had been enabled through changes in our methods of work.  This is of course due to the P6 initiative which I might add has been nurtured by the diligence of each of the Presidents who have prepared and accomplished admirably his individual responsibility in this collective undertaking.  Delegations during this year have all recognised and paid tribute to the achievements of the P6 and we believe that this should be reflected in some meaningful way in this year’s Conference report.


At the same time, the Conference must face also the question of whether we can, and if so how, to build on the P6 initiative for the work of the Conference in 2007.    There have been recommendations for radical change. For instance, the Blix Commission report in June suggested that the consensus rule ‘was a relic of the cold war and should be eliminated’, proposing instead qualified majority 2/3rds vote with regard to  the adoption of the Programme of Work of  the Conference.  Other delegations during this year have urged that reform be brought through ‘small increment steps’ as has been urged by the  Ambassador of Chile, a Friend of the President.  The Friends of the President have also made some other recommendations  with regard to changes that could be beneficial with regard to the methods of work of the Conference. 



All of this, Mr. President,  should provide food for thought as to how we may together build upon the new steps laid this year by the P6 in order to embark further on what we all believe should be a new period of productivity for the CD.  Thanks to the P6 initiative this year working on a pre-agreed arrangement for the whole year based on a solid foundation of our traditional agenda speedily adopted,  we have in fact established  a schedule of activities which could very well form the basis for the work of the Conference in the years ahead.  Our challenge would be to make adjustments in the schedule wherever more time is needed, accommodating both proposals and ideas for discussions as well as the work for experts including commencing negotiations on what Mr. Annan reminded us was the ‘ground breaking instrument’ on FMCT.  This can of course only be done if we can agree to address on an equal footing the priority security concerns of all member states and if we can maintain the constructive atmosphere that has prevailed during this year.


Thank you Mr. President.

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