Address by Tánaiste Martin to the Conference On Disarmament in Geneva
Speech27 February 2023
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I am very pleased to be here in Geneva to address the Conference on Disarmament. Allow me to begin by congratulating you on Ethiopia’s assumption of the Presidency. I assure you of Ireland’s full cooperation and support. I would also like to express our gratitude to the Secretary General of the Conference and to her team for their invaluable support to the work of the CD.
We meet at a time of crisis. Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine has resulted in appalling violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
Russia’s war of aggression must stop immediately. Not only is it an assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, it is an assault on the rules-based international order and multilateralism itself. Ireland unequivocally condemns Russia’s nuclear threats. Any use of nuclear weapons would result in devastating humanitarian consequences that would have a global impact.
Ireland is concerned by Russia’s recent announcement that it will suspend implementation of New START. The verified reduction of deployed strategic nuclear arsenals under New START contributes to international and European security and to the implementation of Article VI of the NPT.
Ireland reiterates its full support for the efforts of the International Atomic Energy Agency to address nuclear safety and security risks arising from Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. The threats to nuclear safety and security resulting from military activity in and near civilian nuclear facilities in Ukraine, are unprecedented.
Progress on disarmament is more necessary than ever. The 10th Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference failed to agree an outcome, solely due to Russia’s decision to block consensus. This is deeply regrettable; it represents a missed opportunity to respond collectively to the critical challenges we are facing.
The NPT remains the cornerstone of the disarmament and non-proliferation regime. Ireland is proud of its deep roots and continued championing of the Treaty. All obligations and commitments under the NPT remain valid and must be honoured. Ireland, together with our New Agenda Coalition partners, call on the nuclear-weapon States to publicly reiterate and make progress on the full implementation of their unequivocal undertaking to disarm. In the upcoming Review Cycle, Ireland will continue to prioritise progress on disarmament, accountability, humanitarian consequences, safeguards and gender.
We welcome last year’s first meeting of State Parties (MSP) of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), including the Vienna Declaration and action plan. The TPNW is fully compatible with and complementary to the NPT and an effective legal measure contributing to the implementation of the NPT’s disarmament provisions. Its growing number of States parties have already re-energised the debate on nuclear weapons and the urgency of nuclear disarmament.
The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), the last legal instrument negotiated in this body over 26 years ago, established a global norm against nuclear weapon testing. It is a powerful demonstration of what can be achieved by the Conference on Disarmament. Ireland will continue to promote and work towards the entry into force of this Treaty, and welcomes the number of recent ratifications to the Treaty. Ireland calls on each of the eight remaining Annex 2 States to join the CTBT without delay or condition, and calls on all States not to do anything contrary to the object and purpose of the Treaty.
Despite growing international tensions, it has been possible to make meaningful progress on disarmament. Following three years of negotiations in often extremely challenging circumstances, Ireland was pleased to conclude the negotiations on a strong Political Declaration on Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas. Adopted by 83 States in Dublin last November, the Declaration represents a powerful response from the international community to civilian suffering caused by conflict modern conflicts. We want the Declaration to be relevant to current and future conflicts by sending an unambiguous message on the fundamental importance of the protection of civilians.
For Ireland, the integration of gender perspectives and issues across all spheres of disarmament is a high priority. As a co-chair of the International Gender Champions Disarmament Impact Group, Ireland is proud to advance efforts to apply a gender analysis in multilateral disarmament fora as well as promoting gender equality and improving women’s participation.
Ireland is deeply concerned that a number of UN Member States are being prevented from participating in the work of this conference as observers. This is a politically-motivated challenge to multilateralism and it must be resolved immediately. Ireland strongly values the contribution of international organisations and non-governmental organisations to the debate on disarmament. We need to find a means of facilitating their meaningful engagement in our work.
Ireland attaches great importance to the Conference on Disarmament fulfilling its mandate to negotiate disarmament instruments. Ireland felt compelled to abstain in last year’s unprecedented UNGA vote on the Conference on Disarmament resolution as it did not accurately reflect the crisis of inertia that faces this body. The deadlock that has prevailed in this Conference over 26 years is neither acceptable nor sustainable. The increasingly procedural nature of the Conference’s work does not reflect the urgent need to address the deteriorating international security environment through multilateral disarmament and arms control. Put simply, we must do better. Ireland will do its part to reach agreement on a programme of work that allows the conference to get back to work.
The past year has witnessed direct challenges to the norms against use or threat of use of weapons of mass destruction, violations of International Humanitarian Law, and a deepening political stalemate on issues of substance. It is vital that in 2023 we recommit ourselves to substantive work here in the Conference on Disarmament. It is imperative that we make substantive progress and re-engage with our collective commitment to sustainable peace and security.
Ireland calls for creativity, flexibility and inclusiveness as we reflect on the way forward to ensure the Conference on Disarmament can once again deliver on its mandate.
27 February 2023