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Speeches, 3/5/2014

Statement by Secretary of State Stenlund at the Conference on Disarmament

Statement by Peter Stenlund, Secretary of State
Conference on Disarmament
Geneva, 5 March 2014

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Mr President, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honor to be here today addressing the Conference on Disarmament in the famous Council Chamber.

At the moment, much of the political attention is focused on the situation in Ukraine.
Nationally, and as a member state of the EU, Finland has always stressed the importance of adherence to international law and commitments. The UN Charter, bilateral agreements, the OSCE Helsinki Final Act and the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances must be respected.
Among other questions, from the viewpoint of the work done in the Conference on Disarmament, it is important that agreements on security issues, including on security assurances, can be trusted.

Mr. President,

Today, arms control and disarmament are as important as ever. 
Working towards a world free of nuclear weapons is a responsibility of all nations. Finland has always supported this goal with diplomacy and expertise and we continue to provide any assistance that may be useful.

Last year, Finland’s foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja participated in the General Assembly High Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament where there was an increasing number of countries demanding stronger multilateral nuclear disarmament efforts.

Views differ on the best means to do so. Some stress the necessity to proceed quickly toward a ban-treaty, with the aim of stigmatizing the weapons. Others aim for multilateral negotiations toward a Nuclear Weapons Convention or another legally binding framework. Some would use the existing arrangements and forums, including particularly the NPT, in order to take gradual steps and measures toward nuclear disarmament. Even though there are differences in approaches, the ultimate goal of a world free of nuclear weapons unites us all. Therefore, I am hopeful that we should be able to find a common ground for practical work together.    

Finland supports progress wherever it can be reached. According to our assessment, the most realistic possibilities and therefore the first priority steps relate to the long overdue Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT).

The Group of Governmental Experts on a FMCT is about to start its work here in Geneva in April. We are pleased that a Finnish expert, Mr Olli Heinonen, former Deputy Director General of the IAEA, will bring his unique knowledge and experience to benefit the Group. We hope this work will enhance the possibilities to negotiate an FMCT in the CD in the near future. But simultaneously, without delays, it is important to extend the voluntary moratorium on fissile material production.  

The history of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) shows how a treaty, even before its entry into force can result in a voluntary moratorium that develops towards a de facto international norm. Finland calls on all states to sign and ratify the CTBT.

Mr President,

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) continues to be a cornerstone of the international arms control regime. It creates the framework for nuclear non-proliferation, for the peaceful use of nuclear energy and for nuclear disarmament. All its pillars are equally important. Also, the universalization of the Treaty is a high priority. The NPT also provides a framework to build confidence between the nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states. Finland actively supports the implementation of the decisions taken at the NPT review conference in 2010 while preparing for the next review conference in 2015.

The Finnish Facilitator for the Conference on the establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and all other Weapons of Mass Destruction, Under-Secretary of State Jaakko Laajava, is working closely together with the conveners of the Conference and states of the Middle East region with the aim of organizing the Conference in Helsinki as soon as possible. Recent consultations have been encouraging, and I hope that the parties can build on the steps taken. I wish to encourage the parties to further work on an agreement on the conference arrangements so that a conference date could be set without delay.   

All NPT members have commitments and shared responsibilities, in non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  The nuclear weapon states have special responsibilities in nuclear disarmament, under the Article VI of the Treaty. Therefore it is especially encouraging that the U.S. President Barack Obama has launched a number of initiatives during his Presidency. It is crucial that the owners of largest stockpiles of nuclear weapons, the US and Russia, show leadership. The New START Treaty is a very important step forward in this respect. However, further reductions are needed in all categories of nuclear weapons.

Especially, reductions in tactical - or non-strategic - nuclear arsenals are needed, as well as inclusion of these weapons in a legally binding, verifiable international treaty system. Today, no treaty arrangements limit tactical nuclear weapons, even though the threshold for their use is lower and the danger for their proliferation and falling into the hands of terrorists is greater than in the case of strategic weapons. The reduction and elimination of tactical nuclear weapons would strengthen security in Europe and would positively impact on international security as a whole. The first steps should be transparency and information exchange as well as other confidence-building measures, such as withdrawal of weapons from forward emplacements.

More generally speaking, the so called P5 cooperation and common efforts between the nuclear weapon states is a welcome development. It should help increase transparency among the nuclear weapon states and may pave the way for future nuclear disarmament. The need for and framework of today's disarmament is more global than ever before.  

The issue of humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons rightly attracts much attention and inspires a number of new actors including from the civil society. The Oslo and Mexico conferences have painted a grim picture of the catastrophic effects of any nuclear weapon detonation to the people, environment, and to our societies in general. Nobody can afford this kind of catastrophes to happen. This discussion will continue in Vienna already later this year.      

Mr President,

The Arms Trade Treaty, adopted in New York a year ago, is a landmark Treaty in many ways. It is a success story in international arms control and testimony to the United Nations’ system to deliver.

We know only too well that easy unregulated access to arms has caused worldwide human suffering. In requiring states to display responsibility and transparency in arms transfers with greater respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, the ATT will have an impact on lives of millions of people, men, women and children.

We will now focus on the Treaty’s international entry into force, its swift implementation and universalization. I am very pleased that well over hundred states have signed and already 11 states ratified the Treaty.  Finland, after completion of its relevant internal procedures, now stands ready to deposit the instrument of ratification.  I hope that the ratifications proceed well to allow the Treaty to enter internationally into force before the end of this year. 

We are pleased of the Mexican willingness to host the first Conference of State Parties. Mexico is well placed to take on this responsibility. We are also pleased that Switzerland has offered to host the necessary preparatory meetings in Geneva. The Mexican and Swiss offers, if agreed upon, could pave the way to swift implementation of the Treaty.

The civil society has been our crucial partner throughout the Treaty’s preparatory process and their valuable support will clearly be needed in the years to come to make the ATT truly effective and universal.     

Mr President,

Over the years Finland has given its support to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) through the highly respected VERIFIN, Finnish Institute for Verification of the Chemical Weapons Convention. VERIFIN, as one of the OPCW's designated laboratories, contributed to the investigation of Syrian chemical weapons attack in August last year.

The destruction of Syrian chemical weapons programme has been a significant endeavour for the international community and Finland has given its strong support to the OPCW-UN joint mission. In order to carry out this important mission, it is important that the chemicals are transported out of Syria for destruction without delay in a safe manner.

Finland’s contribution to OPCW’s two Syrian Trust Funds totals 650 000 euros. Furthermore, Finnish CBRN-unit takes part in the maritime transportation operation conducted by Denmark and Norway. In addition, Finnish expertise will be used in the destruction of Syrian chemicals as Finnish waste management company Ekokem will be one of the facilities in which the treatment and destruction of chemicals will take place.

Mr. President,

Finland joined the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention in 2012. We are engaged in the preparations toward the June Maputo Review Conference, which will be for Finland the first review conference as a full member of the Convention. Finland considers it important to support the implementation of the Treaty and contributes annually about 6 million euros to humanitarian mine action.

Further, I am pleased to note that this year Finnish Permanent representative Ambassador Päivi Kairamo is President-designate of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) Amended Protocol II meetings.

Mr President,

The CD and its predecessors have negotiated several major multilateral arms limitation and disarmament agreements. The CD is a useful and necessary forum for discussions, but is has to be more. Finland hopes the CD can rise again to the expectations from its current stalemate and become a modern disarmament and arms control negotiation forum to the benefit of us all. Finland supports a review of the CD working methods, including its Rules of Procedure, and the enlargement of membership, as well as a deeper involvement of civil society in its work.      

I thank you Mr President

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Updated 3/5/2014

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