NEW YORK, 10 NOVEMBER 1998
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR ANTÓNIO MONTEIRO, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PORTUGAL TO THE UNITED NATIONS, TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY'S 53rd SESSION, FIRST COMMITTEE (Agenda item: expansion of conference on disarmement membership)
I have asked for the floor to refer, on behalf of Portugal and Greece, to document A/C.1/53/L.12. concerning the report of the Conference on Disarmament.
We recognize that the Conference on Disarmament, as the single, global, multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community, has a primary role in substantive negotiations on priority questions of disarmament, and thus, we attach major importance to becoming a member of the Conference.
Rule 2 of the Rules of Procedure of the Conference on Disarmament provides that "The membership of the Conference will be reviewed at regular intervals". The reason for this rule is clear. It stems from the tension between the limited membership of the Conference on the one hand and the universal scope of its task on the other. This task is to negotiate multilateral agreements in the field of disarmament designed to be adhered to by all States.
Therefore, Portugal and Greece consider that the Conference on Disarmament should be open to all States that apply for membership. Only this approach will progressively eliminate the tension between limited membership and the universality of the Conference activities. Enhancing the Conference´s political legitimacy will facilitate the potential universality of the application of legal instruments produced by the Conference.
Each and every decision to move in this direction would, therefore, need to restate the principle of the expansion as a dynamic and phased process in order to avoid the concept of "regular intervals" referred in Rule 2 being wrongly applied. It is our understanding that "regular intervals" does not mean every ten or twenty years.
Portugal and Greece have expressed their support for the most recent proposal of enlargement as an intermediate step in an ongoing process of phased CD expansion to all candidates, and on the understanding that the CD would remain seized of this matter .
As consensus was not reached, we consider it necessary to reappoint a special co-ordinator at the beginning of the 1999 session of the CD. In this context, we welcome the fact that draft resolution L.12 encourages the CD to continue its consultations on the review of its membership.
Portugal and Greece hope that these consultations will lead to a successful treatment of the question of the expansion of CD´s membership, to which they attach great importance.