77th Session United Nations General Assembly
New York, October 2022
First Committee: Thematic Debates
Cluster 7: “Disarmament machinery”
Statement by Ms. Mahesha Jayawardena, Deputy Director of Foreign Ministry, Sri Lanka
At the start of the 2000 Review Conference for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned of the dangers of the accumulation of “rust” in the multilateral disarmament machinery. Twenty years later that rust has developed to such an extent that the Conference on Disarmament (CD) and the UN Disarmament Commission have not gained the traction that was envisaged.
Sri Lanka has noted with concern, together with many delegations to this Committee, the steady deterioration of cooperative and constructive dialogue in the field of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control, which is essential towards ensuring international peace and security.
The global security tensions have not been eased by our inability to agree on a common understanding of the core values and objectives in these fields. We note with regret the failure of two consecutive NPT review conferences to reach consensus. The seeming erosion of ‘political will’ in cooperating towards global peace and security measures must be addressed. Sri Lanka re-iterates the importance of continuing serious dialogue in good faith among all parties concerned in the interest of the security of all peoples.
In this environment, taking measures to collectively protect and strengthen the existing machinery of mechanisms, treaties, obligations and commitments are of vital importance.
In this regard, Sri Lanka notes the priority and relevance of the negotiations that take place through the Conference on Disarmament (CD) as the sole multilateral deliberative body tasked with negotiating multilateral treaties, and the United Nations Disarmament Commission (UNDC) as a deliberative body reporting to the General Assembly. We assure of our readiness to engage with issues on the disarmament agenda through these platforms. Sri Lanka welcomes the reports of the Disarmament Commission and the Conference on Disarmament, and underlines the need for these mechanisms to work with renewed vigor.
Sri Lanka emphasizes the need for equitable geographical representation in the staffing of the Office of Disarmament Affairs (ODA). It was well noted by one delegation during a previous debate in this Committee, that one geographical region out number the combined number of those from four other regions.
In this context, Sri Lanka supports the regional disarmament mechanisms and processes to promote dialogue, create trust and build confidence at regional and sub-regional levels. These regional centres are of greater relevance in this global security environment. They are encouraged to work with governments of the regions as well as other stakeholders to address issues unique to each region and contribute towards the global disarmament agenda.
There is an argument that the current disarmament machinery would work properly if there were sufficient “political will” for it to do so. Is this simply an excuse for inaction? As one commentator has said, “It is not political will that is lacking—it is agreement on direction, that does not exist right now. ... The political will that does exist is pulling with equal force in opposite directions—a sure recipe for staying stuck in one place.’ The Multilateral machinery, especially for something as fundamental as disarmament negotiations, should be designed to work in all conditions. Working on the machinery is not just tinkering at the edges, while we wait for the political winds to change.
Finally, Mr. Chair, Sri Lanka reaffirms its commitment to strengthening the existing disarmament machinery and to working with all Member States to achieve concrete results, and fulfill the goal of general and complete disarmament towards maintaining international peace and security.
I thank you Mr. Chair.
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